Aug 16, 2017

Lord Help...

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There is a lot of stuff going on in this world. In our country. In our state. In our cities.

Like everyone else, I am horrified at the things that I see.

It would be easy for me to panic, worry, and want to throw the towel in on the state of humanity.

However, none of this takes God by surprise.

17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:17-20

Read that scripture one more time and let it sink in.

The first line, and the last line.


Peace that God is in control.

Peace that He sits on the Throne.

Peace that He will reconcile all things.

My son often asks, "Mom, what will the world look like when I am your age??"

I tell him, "I don't know. But, one thing I do know for sure is that...God is in control. Our times are in His hands."

When I am prone to panic, worry, anger, or obsess about what is happening in this world...

I pray instead.

I take all of those thoughts and lift them up to the Father.

I ask Him to give me the faith of a child. To see what He sees.

To not become bitter and enraged, nor to become immune to the suffering.

Lord, let me see as You see. Give me Your eyes. Give me Your heart.

In order to raise the next generation up in the ways of the Lord, we MUST show them what prayer looks like. We must show them that we do not have the answers, but God does.

We have the opportunity to teach our children many things...

What will we teach them?

What will they remember about us?

How will they see us respond to the events taking place around us?

What will they hear coming our of our mouths in response to evil?

Oh, Lord, let it be prayer.

Before we utter a word, let our hearts turn to you in prayer. Let our mouths seek You first before a word is on our tongue.

Our children need to see us praying.

Not just in desperate times, but at all times.

We must teach them.

Who else will?

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land, 2 Chronicles 7:14

help us, Lord.


Aug 15, 2017

Hopelessly Devoted....

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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

Do you remember the candy, Pop Rocks from our childhood? 

They were small little rock things that would explode and "Pop" when you put them in your mouth. I used to LOVE them. I may or may not still eat them from time to time. Shhh ,don't tell my dentist. [although, pretty sure he can already tell]

Reading scripture is like that. 

When we ingest it, suddenly, God uses it to POP and explode into our hearts. 

This morning I came across this scripture in Colossians...."Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
I kept repeating it over and over. 

Throughout our day, we can devote ourselves to many things. Our phones. Our emails. Our jobs. Our children. Our husbands. Our houses. Our relationships. 

These are all good things. 

However, the thing that holds them all together is God. 

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17

When we take these things that we love, and devote them to prayer, the explosion happens. We become more watchful. We cannot wait to see what God will do with those prayers. 

Our eyes suddenly become more watchful to His works around us and in others. 

We begin  to have His eyes to see. 

Along with being watchful, Paul tells us here in this verse to be thankful. 

Boy, doesn't that just tie it all together?

Pray. Watch. Give thanks. 

We can also devote our thoughts to fear. Worry. Anger. Bitterness. Unforgiveness. 

Without realizing it, we give our devotion to things that we never meant to elevate. We must be so careful with our thoughts, because they determine what we say, and what we do. 

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

I want to be devoted to God in prayer, I really do. But, it won't just happen. I have to discipline myself to pray. I have to put down other things I am devoted to, like my phone, and pray. 

In the car I have to turn off the radio because it can distract me from prayer. I have to make sure I get up earlier than the rest of the house because I need that time to pray before my day starts. 

When I am cooking dinner, and the house is chaos central, I can still be devoted to prayer. Browning meat, stirring soup, I can pray. 

Being devoted to prayer doesn't mean we have to halt life and carve out 4.5 hours to pray.  We can pray in the mundane things of our day. Folding laundry, ironing [for you ironer-s out there], changing sheets. 

Prayer open our eyes to the needs of others. It forces us to escape the pull of the "me, me, me" in our flesh. It will take our eyes and point them outward and upward instead of inward. 

Prayer will also push away the worries, the fears, the anxieties of life. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Pray. Watch. Give thanks, 


Aug 14, 2017

Oops I did it again....

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Some friends and I started a prayer group a few years ago. We meet once a week.

The goal of our little group is to pray over our children and families. It feels good to know without a shadow of a doubt that friends are praying on behalf of my family.

Each week we have a theme to pray. A scripture usually.

This week we are praying one of the beatitudes. "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4

As I studied the meaning of this verse, I found out something that I didn't know before. [shocker]

This verse applies to the mourning of our sins. The state of grief over our the amount of sin in our lives.


I had always prayed it over those grieving a loss, a death, a divorce...

However, this verse came to light in a whole new way to me after studying it.

I want to mourn over my sin, because when I do, it is an acknowledgment of my desperate need for Jesus.

We want our children to mourn over their sins as well.

Repentance will never come unless we are truly grieved over our  sin.

This momma rolls around in repentance quite often these days.

Last week was a doozie at our house.

My emotions were all over the place [another shocker].

Poor children. They never see it [me] coming. [please pray for them]

I'm not sure exactly what even happened.....

But, suddenly, my mouth opened and out spewed ugly.

Ugly, as in a word that I would never allow my children to say.

In fact, I said it twice. Because apparently once just wasn't enough.  [mother of the year]

I could feel the regret as soon as my mouth opened.

Does anyone else feel like your mouth has a mind of its own some days.?



I can't  really see you, but I'm hoping yes.

I felt awful afterwards.

And by awful, I mean, I wanted to crawl under a rock and die a cold, lonely death.

Why do I let this happen? WHY?

I mean-- I KNOW better. Really, I do.

But, my mouth. My stinking mouth just will not stay shut when it needs to sometimes.

I spent the next two day, yes two whole days, in sorrowful regret. Mourning my big fat ugly mouth. I even wore all black to reflect my mourning state. My sin needed a proper burial.

I will never forget the look on my children's faces when I said the big ugly....

Kill. Me. Now.

Why do I forget how horrible sin feels?

Why do I lose all sense of holiness in a matter of seconds some days?

I don't know.

But, Jesus knew we would. He knew we would lose it. He knew we would mess up. He knew we would say things we shouldn't say [ever].

Despite my sin...

He comforted me, just like the verse says.

He pulled me close.

He forgave me.

He loved me.

He loves me still.

I don't get it, I really don't.

Can we love like this?

Can I love my husband like this when he blows it again?

Can I love my children like this when they defy me again?

Can I love those around me that have hurt me?

Can I love and forgive myself when I blow it for the thousandth time?

Jesus teaches us that this is the only way to love.

He tells us in one of my absolute favorite verses from 1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Yes, Yes! A thousand times yes!

How many times has He covered the multitude of my sins?

Too many to count. [and too many blog posts to prove it]

So, although we will sin. We will mess up. We will let our mouths spew words like daggers...

Jesus will comfort us when we repent.

When we bow our heads down low, for the millionth time this week...

Jesus lifts our chin and cups it in His Hands...

He covers us.

He comforts us.

He loves us, anyway.

May we be like Jesus. Taking the sweet face of another, touching it ever so gently, lifting it up to our Father in Heaven...

Pointing them to the Comforter.

Lord, we repent.

washing my mouth out with soap,


Aug 13, 2017

Pardon the Interruption...

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For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20

I am just downright giddy.

Want to know why?

Ok, I will tell you anyway.

I FINALLY had some time to sit down and work on the SHINE website.

Updated some things. Added some new background. Added some new stuff.

Are you as excited as me????

Ok, well pretend you are.

So, here is the new thing..

I have added the prayer page back.

Prayer is so important, as you know.

We need a place to gather and pray.

Since I can't see or hear you through this screen, let's meet over at the prayer page and pray.

What do you say?

I mean it when I say, praying for each other is POWERFUL.

We need a place to share. Encourage. Love each other.

Of course, doing this in person is better, but having a space here is a good place to start.

Sometimes we just need a listening ear. Or, in this case, listening eyes.

Come visit our little prayer page. Leave your prayers, respond to prayers....whatever your little heart desires.

Ok, back to your day. Or nap. Or whatever you have going on. Happy Sunday!

Come, let us pray together,


Aug 12, 2017

Pity Party Please....

Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer-
Lamentations 2:19

Good morning. What a week. Whew.

Since writing is therapy to me, here goes.

God is good.

God is good.

God is good.

God is good.

Sometimes, many times, I have to just say those words over and over until they sink in.

As I wrote in my prayer journal this week, tears streamed down my face. I felt ashamed at the words that I was writing to God. I felt like I would regret the pity party I was having with Him.

But, it's not like that with Him. I think He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him. He knows what's going on inside anyway. No use hiding.

As I poured out my heart, not holding back, I felt a slow release.

I had to tell Him. I had to let Him know my feelings about all the things that I just do not understand.

Some are long ago heartaches, some are unanswered prayers, some are desires that seem to fall flat, some are just self condemnation that rears its ugly head from time to time, and some of it is just life. The hard, gnawing, intensity of life.

It all just reached a boiling point this week. The enemy was there at every turn to remind me of how little God thought of me. How little He cared. How little He noticed. How little He loved.

Ever been there?

As I was lamenting to the Lord on my couch, my kids walked in. Ugh. My reading glasses were fogged up and my nose was puffy and red. I could not deny my state of sadness.

I really did not want to explain this to them. I just wanted to have a pity party of one.

But, they prodded and pressed. And pressed some more.

I gave in and spilled my heart to them.

Then, immediately regretted being so vulnerable.

But, the sweetest thing happened afterwards...

They ministered to me. Their words were like a balm to my wounded heart.

How could this be?

I am supposed to be the strong one. The wise one. The counselor. The momma.

But, not this time.

God used their child like faith to minister to my soul better than any professional counselor could.

My oldest said something wise.

He said, "Mom, when you are in the valley, you grow. Remember? You told me that and it was true. You told me that your character forms and you learn more than you ever would when things are going great. You need to remember that now, Mom."

I wanted to crawl under the couch. I hate feeling this vulnerable. Especially with my kids.

But, this conversation turned into a sweet time of sharing. Of laughter. Of tears.

We all ended up sharing stories of how we had felt unnoticed at times. Left out. Without an identity.

It was healing. It was good. It was just what my heart needed.

Sometimes God uses people. Many times God uses people.

This time, He used my own kids.

God is good.

God is good.

God is good.

kids are a gift,


Aug 8, 2017

Walk the walk....

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A  fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11

Some days I wake up. Have my time with Jesus. Drink my piping hot cup of liquid consciousness and feel really joyful.

Then, something happens that jumps right into my joyful little bubble.

Like, this morning.

I was driving my children to school, minding my business, still bubbling over with Jesus and my coffee buzz.

I had even just finished praying over my kids, for Heaven's sake when it happened.

We were getting ready to make the turn into the high school and a lady made a gesture to me and mouthed something. It wasn't even a foul gesture like you are probably thinking, but it was rude. Unnecessary.

My face flushed red. My blood pressure rose a few notches.

Why did she have to be rude? Why??

My day was doing just fine without her snarky gesture.

My oldest looked at me and said, "Wow, what was that about?"

I held my tongue [this isn't always the case]. It was hard.

Of course, as God would have it, I had just read about pride and the importance of practicing what we preach in the book of Matthew this morning. I had even got out my big blue pen and circled and starred the passage.

Little did I know the lesson would be coming soon.

1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Matthew 23:1-4

Seriously though.

Is God working out something in my heart, or what?

There are many things that happen during the course of a day that offend us.

They sting our flesh. Our pride gets bumped into.

Constantly we tell our children to take the high road. The narrow path. Look the other way. Pray for those that persecute you.

Yet, are we practicing what we preach?

I know I haven't at times.

My children have even called me out on it. That's always fun.

As parents, we are always talking the talk. But, do we walk the walk?

Like, really. Do we walk the walk?

Are we easily offended? Do we find ourselves quick to spout off our opinions and thoughts when a mouth filter is in order? How do we treat those that serve us? Are we rude, irritated, and lacking patience when others are not considerate of our time?

Y'all, our children will never walk the walk unless they see us do it first. We can say all the pretty words in the world, but it's not the words that matter. It's the action.

How about this for some conviction at 5:07 am this morning:

27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:27-28

Yes, I realize we are not Pharisees. But, we are teachers to many around us. Our children. Our peers. Our co-workers. If you are a disciple of Christ, you are a teacher to those around you. We teach by our actions.

Sometimes, we are so caught up with our kids being surrounded by the right influences. In the right youth group. In a good Sunday school class, etc. Those things are good, but what are they getting at home? Our influence is MUCH greater than we think.

We can drop our kids off at every youth group in the county, but nothing will be of greater influence than what we show them at home. When no one is looking. When we are not surrounded by our church friends.

Who are we when no one is looking?

Our children are always looking. Watching. Waiting to see how we will react. What we will say. What we will do.

Can we really expect more of our children if we are not showing our children more

We won't always get this right. We will mess up. A lot.

But, how do we handle these mess-ups? Are we humble enough to admit we were wrong and need forgiveness?

Gosh, Jesus knows how to get to this momma's heart. He doesn't want a bunch of white washed tombs walking around, filthy on the inside. He wants our insides pure. The part that matters the most.

Let's walk the walk, parents. Our children will eventually follow.

walk over talk,


Aug 6, 2017

How can it be.....

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This past weekend my oldest child turned 16.

Honestly, I never thought this day could come. The early years were slow as molasses. The good kind of slow. The kind of slow that makes you think it will always be like this and it is just a wonderful little life.

Then, they grow older and taller and bigger.

The older they get the quicker the time goes. Middle school is a flash. High school is a half of a flash. [am I right moms of older kids?]

As I watched my man-child blow out his candles, a lump formed in my throat. Tears started to swell. Memories of his first Winnie the Pooh birthday flooded my heart.

How could this Winnie the Pooh loving baby be 16 years old?

I quickly gathered myself before the last line of Happy Birthday. The last thing I wanted was for this party to be a sob fest about ME.

I turned those tears into prayers of thankfulness to God. Thankful that we still had him to celebrate birthdays. Thankful that he is learning and growing still.

Before the party, I gathered up all of his scrap books and memorabilia. **Note to self: do not do this again right before a big gathering. especially if mascara has already been applied.

Looking at those pages brought me straight back to those moments. Sweet moments. Hard moments. Laughing moments. Crying moments.

As I turned the pages, I saw pictures of me in some of the photos. I am growing older too. It's not just the kids that are growing, it is us parents too.

Growth is good.

I would not trade my 42 years of life under my belt for a younger age. Truly, I would not.

Change is certainly hard, but I believe life gets sweeter along the way. Some would argue with me. I understand.

However, it has been my experience that my heart has softened along the way. I see things from a different view now. I'm not near as hard on myself. Or on others. I let things go a lot quicker. Forgiving has become much easier. Humility is easier to come by too because I have learned that I really am nothing without Jesus.

Growing up is not so bad.

My favorite part of growing up is taking littles under my wing and nurturing them to grow and thrive. I love little people. I love little things.

Getting the chance to take care of, feed, water, and nourish little people is the greatest gift in the world....whether I gave birth to them or not. It really doesn't matter. They all need love and cherishing.

As I kissed my newly turned 16 year old goodnight, I realized something. He would always be mine. No matter his age, no matter his location. He was mine.

I thought about God. How He must love us. How He must cherish us, His children.

No matter where we go, how far we wander...

We belong to Him. We are engraved on the palms of His Hands. [Isaiah 49:16}

As a momma, I get this. Oh, how I see God's love for us so much more clearly.

My children will always be mine. Engraved on my heart. Memories etched in stone in my soul.

Nothing can change this. Not time, not distance..

Wanting them to stay little and turn back time is depriving them and me of growth.

A tree is most nourishing when it is full grown. When its branches spread out wide providing shade for others. When the fruit it bears is ripe and sweet for others to taste and see.

They will be called mighty oaks, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

I pray this scripture over my children. Lord, let them be mighty oaks. Deep roots and far reaching branches.

We must water them though. Nurture them. Prepare them for full growth.

That is our job. And, what an honor it is.

still growing,


Aug 3, 2017

Your Greatest Assignment....

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

When we "hide His word in our heart" as Psalm 119:11 tells us, our insides change. We breathe in the scriptures, and we exhale His truth. Something marvelous begins to happen in our souls. We are renewed, refreshed, and encouraged to "keep going".

His words will bubble up and remind us of His Promises and His Truth when the world is trying to convince us otherwise.

"Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." Psalm 16:5

As we dive into this scripture today, let's look at the word "assigned".

Good ol' Merriam-Webster defines "assign" as this: to give someone a particular job or duty : to require someone to do a particular task

So, when we apply this meaning to our verse, it tells us that the LORD gives us our job and tasks. We don't decide what we do, HE does. Not only this, but He "requires" us to do this particular task.

I'm not sure about you, but this causes my shoulders to release a whole lot of unwanted stress and tension. He is in charge of me. Not the other way around.

As women, we are task masters. We have or daily to-do's and we hit the door running most days.

What a fresh breath of sea salt air to know that God Himself is the One really in charge! Sure, we can make plans, we can dream dreams, we can set goals.....

However, the Word tells us this: "In His heart a man plans his steps, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Y'all, surely you hear that freedom bell ringing in the background. THIS is PROFOUND if we really start to absorb the truth of it all.

On days when I sleep through my quiet time, when I forget to do something I had marked down on 3 of my calendars to do, when my laundry makes me want to go into the corner and suck my thumb for hours, when I have to tell my kids for the MILLIONTH time to be nice to each other....

I can say to the Lord, "Lord, YOU have assigned me this life! You knew the kind of day I would have. You foreknew my melt down at Publix because my daughter rammed into the back of my heels with the buggy 4 times! You knew I would come home to a boat load of dirty dishes after a long day!"

When we grasp the peace in this scripture, we begin to see the grace in all of it.

  • We see our Heavenly Father with us in the dirty laundry.
  • We see Him with us as we try to make sense out of a checkbook that seems to never balance in our favor.
  • We see Him in the loud mornings with our children, when all we want to do is hit our knees in the bathroom and cry our sleepy eyes out.
  • We see Him at the job that we are tired of going to, day in and day out, as we daydream for better days.

Girls, He has assigned us this life.

He will use us to further His Kingdom, exactly where He has us.

It may not look like what you imagined, maybe even far from it. Oh, but don't you think for one second that He doesn't have a master plan working on your precious behalf.

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

Y'all, you can take this with you to the BANK. He is working for GOOD in your life.

Even through our darkest hours, He is working to bring together His perfect assignment for our life.

Who are we to argue?

My new prayer for the last few weeks has simply been this:

"Lord, Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven"

When I wake up to fussing children, "Lord, Your will be done today."

When I am confused about which path to take, "Lord, Your will be done in this situation."

When a relationship is strained, "Lord Your will be done in this."

When life just seems too overwhelming, "Lord, Your will be done."

Really, there is no better way.

He has given us an assignment.

Instead of arguing with Him over our assignment, let's thank Him for what He's doing through it. The lives that will change forever because we allowed "His will to be done."

The very next line in that scripture reads this: "You have made my lot secure." Psalm 16:5{b}

Security. Who doesn't want some of that?

Thank you Jesus for our assignments. None is greater than the other. We are all a part of Your master plan as we carry out our tasks each and every day. Your will be done, Lord. On Earth as in Heaven.

resting in my assignment,


[original post 7/16/14]

Aug 1, 2017

Puppy Love....

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"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you, LORD, have called forth your praise'?" Matthew 21:16

We just got a new puppy. 8 weeks old. Brand spanking new.

It is a lot like having a toddler. Especially while house training. Whew. I'm tired.

But, our little puppy has already taught me a few things. Imagine that.

I watch Bo [our puppy] chase his tail, chase butterflies, worms, squirrels. He is so joyful and full of spunk.

He sees the world with different eyes. Eyes that are filled with wonder and amazement.

He is so innocent.

Innocent to cars, mean people, mean dogs, mean cats, any kind of danger....just so innocent.

I love watching him explore this big, beautiful world. It makes me smile. Yet, it makes me sad at the same time.

When did I lose that joy?

When did I lose that sense of amazement of the things that God daily surrounds me with? Like, the tall trees, the blooming hydrangeas, the red birds that constantly flit and play in my yard.

Why don't I notice those things anymore?

Instead, many days I see busy. I see stress. I see rushing. I see a short tempered mother. I see a guilt filled mother after my short temper explodes.

What happened to my innocence? What happened to my seeing the best in all things?

I remember life as a little girl as being magical. Everything was amazing and new!

I day dreamed about my future husband, children, playing house...

Where are those dreams when you are full grown with growing children, growing bills, and growing worries?

The news makes me anxious. And hopeless at times.

Yet, when I look at our little puppy, I am filled with remembering hope. The deep, satisfying, soul filling kind of hope that gets lost in the hustle and bustle of life.

Bo sees what God sees.

Amazingly, God has used this little bundle of fur to remind me to have the faith of a all things.

And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

That's what so often is missing in my life.

When we have been hurt, rejected, neglected, disappointed, let down...

We close off parts of our soul that feel the pain of those memories.

We may even feel let down by God...I get this. I too have struggled with the pain of unanswered prayer.

But, when we do focus on the losses and the let downs, we lose that child like faith. We lose Hope and Expectation that God will make all things good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Have you been in a similar place? Void of hope?

There is a remedy.





But, here is the thing...

We have to do these things every day. Clothe ourselves with these things.

It will not just happen.

We must wake up every morning and decide to choose...

To see.

To see the good.

To see the lovely.

To see the hope over the despair.

To forgive.

To praise.

It really is a choice.

What will you choose today?

“At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.
We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it."-C.S. Lewis

thank you Bo,


Jul 31, 2017

Who am I?

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

My children started back to school today. Joseph is in 11th grade, Presley is in 7th grade.

I was doing fine. Really, I was.

Until, we gathered to pray before we headed out the door.

We were in the kitchen. We grabbed hands.

I began to pray.

And, stopped mid sentence.

Suddenly, I couldn't find my voice. It had disappeared.

Tears were stinging my tired eyes.

My kids both asked, "What's wrong, Mom?"

I gathered my sorrow and managed to squeak out some semblance of a prayer.

The emotions flooded and I tried hard to push them back down.

"Jill, it is just another day. Calm yourself. Get a hold. Don't do this here and now."

These are the words I spoke to myself. A pep talk cheering myself to be the kind of mom that doesn't cry at every drop of the hat.

I mean, what the heck is wrong with me?

Why do I do this every.single.year?

As I pondered the why's in all of these emotions, I remembered something the Lord revealed to my heart a few years ago.

If I am not careful, I can get my identity confused with something that it is not supposed to be.

Being a mother made my identity real. Palpable.

I remember when my son was born, I felt like my life finally was beginning. My entire life I had dreamed of being a mother.

When motherhood was fulfilled, I thought I was finally living out my identity.

However, I was wrong.

My identity is not in motherhood, it is in Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Motherhood is a high calling, make no mistake. However, Jesus Christ is our highest calling and purpose.

If I put the entirety of my identity into being a mother, I will lose my identity as soon as they flee my nest. Although they will still be mine, my role of daily taking care of them will change.

When my identity is in Christ, I have something that is not earthly and temporal. An identity that can never be shaken or taken away.

Being a mother is a part of who I am, but not the whole.

The whole of who I am is a follower of Christ.

Jesus' disciples lived this out for us.

They were made up of fisherman and a tax collector. Yet, when Jesus asked them to follow, they laid their identity's aside to follow.

Their value was not based on who they were, but Whose they were.

It is the same for us.

We can get tangled up thinking our value is in our motherhood, our marriage, our financial status, our friendship circle, our church.....

But, we will never find true fulfillment and contentment until we realize that our true identity is in Jesus Christ alone.

We must not love these things more than we love Him.

Idols can form in our hearts, even our own children can become idols.

So often I have asked God to take any desire away from my heart that leads me away from Him.

23Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

He has always answered this prayer, but not without painful severances at time.

However, nothing comes close to realizing that no matter my surroundings and circumstances, I belong to Jesus Christ. The giver of Peace. The giver of Life. The giver of Hope. The giver of Contentment.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1

By the time my kids get home from school, my tears will be dry. My heart will be mended.

Sometimes we just need to go sit in the Father's lap and be reminded of His love for us and how we belong to Him.

He is what makes us who we are.

No need to worry if you have an identity, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are identity is sealed. For eternity.

remembering Whose I am,


Jul 28, 2017

Did I offend you?

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[original post 7/19/16]

Every once in a while, I will put down all other reading plans, and just read straight through the gospels of the New Testament.

It never fails that when I do, I fall blonde-head over cracked-heels in love with Jesus again.

I read through it slow. Just one chapter a day. I like to soak it in. Each word drenching my heart with His teaching, grace, mercy, and jaw dropping love.

My heart becomes exposed each time I read. The Light of Truth pierces the dark corridors of this heart, and warms deep into the cold places.

Almost every time, I cry. I hold my bible close to my chest as if doing so will cause His Love to jump right into my spirit. Like osmosis, seeping into my pores and flooding me with Himself.

I want this so much.

He shows me something new each time I read His Word. Amazing how that happens, right?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

A verse did this very thing to my heart last week. I still hear it over and over again. Pondering its meaning and praying for God to reveal to me what this means for me.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Notice, the verse doesn't say "if you have something against your brother or sister." It says, "if your brother or sister has something against you."

I have never looked at it like this. Usually, I am praying to have a forgiving heart towards those that have wronged me or offended me. I ask for God to bless that person despite the hurt they caused.

However, look what this is saying. Go to the person that has something against you.

This takes on a whole new perspective.

Who have I wronged that I need to make right?

Who may be holding a grudge against me?

Who may have misunderstood something I did or said?

This verse really comes into play when pondering this scripture, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise" Ephesians 5:15

Are we careful with how we are living? With our words? With our lack of words? With our actions?

Are we thinking of who we may have offended or wronged today, or just focused on who offended us.

Oh, y'all. This is powerful. And so important.

We must live out our faith with the words we speak. We must be so careful with our conversations. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

We must be careful to not be a stumbling block to those around us. I believe we can even be an unintentional stumbling block. Therefore, it is so important that we be intentional about NOT being one. Because of our flesh, we are not always thinking about how others may receive our words. Many times our focus is on how we receive the words of others.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 2 Corinthians 6:3

I wonder if this is what happens to our prayer life. Our prayers get stifled and smothered due to the lack of wisdom in how we speak and treat others. Again, even if we are not aware. We must ask for Jesus to show us, to open our eyes to ourselves and see ourselves clearly. Not shadowed by pride of murky self-righteousness.

Let's take these words of Jesus and put them into practice. Who may I have wronged? Let me go and make it right!

Let not another day pass that there is friction and strife in the heart of another towards us. To really have a heart like Jesus, we must be concerned about the heart of others, not just ourselves.

We may not be able to receive the persons forgiveness, but we can receive the forgiveness of our
Father for trying to make it right with the offended. We will have to trust that God will do the work in the persons heart that we have intentionally or unintentionally offended.

Jesus is rocking my world,


Jul 20, 2017

Unmet Desires...

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[original post 4/13/16]

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires." Psalm 37:4

For many, too many, years, I took this verse to mean: When God grants me the desires of my heart, I will delight in Him.

Even if I didn't express it out loud, I viewed my taking delight in Him only after I had received my current "desire".

If we really think about this, haven't we all had conditions on our love and delight in God?

We say all the right things at bible study, we can quote scriptures off the top of our heads...

But, do we really take delight in the Lord?  Is He really our One True Desire?

I love how King David, my favorite man in all the world, states His desire for God. Read what he says to God and let it take your precious breath away.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4
One thing David wants. One thing David seeks. The Lord.
This scripture is one I have taped to anything it will stick to. I desperately want God to be my one true desire.
However, when my hopes and dreams don't pan out the way I feel they should, that desire for Him can disappear. Oh, I can fake it with the best of them. I can smile my way through church and worship and small group. I can post flowery scriptures on Instagram declaring my love for God and His Word.
But, the Lord knows my heart. He knows the wall I have created because of the unmet desire.
Isn't it funny how we think we can punish God by pulling our heart away from Him for not granting us these desires? When all along, we are the one suffering from not delighting in Him. He surely is grieving over our messed up thinking. If we only knew how much He loved us and delighted in us. If only we knew that the answer to our sorrow and our hurt was found in Him. Not the unmet desire.
Oh, y'all. This is so personal to me. I can write about this because I know this so well. It has just been very recently that God has shed light on my heart regarding this very thing.
I have wrestled with Him. I have argued with Him. I have told Him how I could not believe Him or trust Him if He did not give me this desire. I have believed the lie that He has forgotten about me. Or worse yet, not seen me at all.
When all the while, the desire my soul was created to long for, was right there all along. In Him.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:1
Our hearts can lead us astray in desires. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things..."
We cannot be lead by our hearts but by our God. By the Holy Spirit Who dwells inside of us breathing God's desires into our souls.
Any desire, let me repeat, any desire, that overshadows our love for God will never work out for our good. Ever.
We can pray for better marriages, for our husbands to pray more, to have better children, to have more money, to have more discipline in our eating, to have babies, to get married, to have a boyfriend, to meet the man of our dreams, to get that job we want so badly....
However, when we make bargains with God to attain these things, we suffocate our desire for God. Those desires, even good ones, become idols.
“You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  Exodus 20:3-4
Our hearts grow cold when our demands are not met. We act like rebellious children when we don't see the fruit of our desires.
He is the fruit. He IS our One True desire.
Can we wrap our brains around the fact that we have ALL WE WILL EVER NEED. HE IS ENOUGH. END OF STORY.
I don't put that in all caps to yell, but to remind myself. To remind my own heart of what is at stake when I think something besides Him will make me happy. It just will not. It is a lie that the enemy loves to help us to believe. A big, fat, stinking, ugly LIE.
In Matthew 22:34-40, the Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up by asking Him what the greatest commandment was. They thought He would give them an answer that they could dispute and prove that He did not know what He was talking about. Oh, they were so wrong.

34  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Any answer besides this one could have become an idol to us. We will never ever be led astray in our desires if we Love God and desire Him above anything else. And then right below that one, loving others as we love ourselves. Whew. Talk about piercing straight through the bloody walls that encase our beating hearts.

Jesus didn't "desire" to be hung on a cross and tortured. He desired to delight in God by doing the Will of God.

THIS, is where we find the missing piece to the gigantic hole in our hearts we have been trying to fill up with all the wrong stuff. When we die to our man-made desires and make HIM our One True Desire above anything or anyone else, we suddenly have all we ever need.

Don't be mistaken, God wants all of it and more for us. He loves us more than we can even begin to comprehend. But, He wants our hearts above it all. Completely, and utterly devoted to Him.

After all, we are and always have been His desire. We were created by Him, and for Him.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

desiring Him alone,


Jul 19, 2017

The Secret Prayer...

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[original post 7/17/16]

My husband and I share many intimate conversations together. Things that we discuss just between the two of us that are special and treasured. We dream about our future, and the future of our children together. We express concerns and observations of things happening around us. This openness creates a secret and rare vulnerability between us that I cannot put into words.

These talks are sacred between the two of us. Many of the things on my heart, I have never shared with another living soul. They are meant to be kept between the bond, the unity, and the love between the two of us. When we took an oath before God on our wedding day to be submitted to one another, our spirits became one. God sees us as one as well. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Romans 8:26

Our prayer life is the same. When we approach the Father in prayer, it is a time of deep intimacy and lavish openness of our hearts to His. We express things, even if not spoken in words, they are expressed through the groaning of our spirits.The bible tells us in Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."

Jesus teaches us about the power of prayer in secret. Not just prayer in secret, but the power of giving in secret, and fasting in secret. Take a look at Matthew 6 verses 6-18. Here's an excerpt...

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

When reading God's word, hang onto things you see repeated over and over again. Make note it it, and store it up in your heart. Like a good Father to his children, He reminds us so we will not forget.

In my own personal prayer life, I have seen the power of prayer in secret several times over the last few years. Honestly, I didn't even realize the prayer was in secret at the time. These requests were just so deep and so personal in my spirit, that I kept them between the Father and me.

One experience that I will share from a couple of years ago is that of a prayer over my husband. It was regarding a trip he wanted to go on with some friends. He would be gone several days and something in my spirit just was not at peace about it. I never told him my concerns. Instead, I took my concerns to prayer.

I wasn't sure why I was so hesitant about this trip for him, but I was. I asked God to grant me peace for him to leave if His will was for Lem to go on the trip. I also reached out to three friends and asked them to please pray for an unspoken request for me and my family.

At the time, I wasn't sure of my motives for wanting him to stay home. I wanted to be clear the motives were not selfish, so I spared sharing the details with my praying friends. I just asked them to pray.

About a month later, my husband came to me and told me that the trip he was planning on going on had fallen apart. Nothing was working out for he and his friends to be able to go.

Bewildered, I gasped out loud.

I could not even believe it.

God had answered this prayer, and I knew it was only God that could have made the details come together for the trip to not take place.

I never did tell him that I had prayed about that trip. The things that God had done were so personal and so intimate and so intricate, I wanted to keep it between He and I. Also, I did not want for one second for Lem to think that I had prayed him out of going. It would have put a shadow on future trips he wanted to take with the fellas, and I did not want the enemy getting a foothold there.

I love when Lem is able to get away with his friends to hike and camp. I love it because he loves it. It makes him smile, and it makes him excited! So, not for one second did I want him to think that I had manipulated the situation for him not to be able to go.

Another time that God answered a secret prayer was one I love to share to anyone who will listen. If you have heard it, I apologize in advance.

A few years ago I was running out of my favorite skincare line. I had purchased it for myself  from some money I had received for my birthday months before. I loved it so much and I wanted to order a whole new set! The cost would be...a LOT. Way over our budget. Especially for fancy skincare.

I had rationalized in my head that I deserved to get it. I specifically remember thinking, "This is the ONLY thing I splurge on. I deserve this for myself. Plus, I will save my husband on a face lift because my skin will be firmer due to this awesome skincare line." 


I logged on to the website to order this outrageously expensive skincare. I had everything I needed [wanted] in my cart online. I scrambled for my credit card to put it all on there, praying that the bill would not come for at least 30 days. I wasn't ready for a fight with the hubby any time soon.

I began to type in the numbers, and I stopped. Conviction seized me. I couldn't do it. My husband had clearly marked our budget boundaries just that very week, and this was not even close to being in the equation.


I logged off of the site feeling sad and feeling sorry for myself.

Silently, I prayed that God would forgive me for almost stepping into disobedience.

Are you ready for what happened next?

The very next day, a friend called me on the phone.

She asked me if I would like a bunch of skincare that she had purchased a few weeks ago. She said she did not really like it, but she didn't want to go to the expense and the effort to send it all back. Plus, she knew I was a huge fan of that particular skincare.

YES!! I would love to take this off of your hands!

I was beyond elated.

Y'all that afternoon, I went to pick up the skincare she had left in her car for me at her work. It was DOUBLE what I had planned ordering online the day before. DOUBLE. There were even some items that I wanted to get, but knew there was no way I could at that time.

I was absolutely blown away. That big gold bag of skincare was a gift from my Father.

He heard my secret prayer. I didn't even really ask Him, I just asked Him to forgive me for disobedience. Yet, He knows the desires of our hearts, doesn't He?

I share these things to encourage you that the Father loves to lavish us. He loves to be one on one with you in the secret place of prayer. Just the two of you.

In my case, those secret times of prayer have built my faith stronger. I think if I would have asked a lot of people to pray, I would have missed out on a chance in intimacy with my Father. In my flesh, I may have thought that it was certainly not because of my feeble prayers that it was answered. I would have not felt the same intimacy with Him, I believe.

Please don't for one second think that asking for prayer or group praying is not powerful. It is!

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19

However, I do believe that there is a time for intimacy as well. A place and time to pray secretly those deep groans and desires. He will lead us how to pray, and with whom to share our prayers, we just need to ask Him.

I have learned in these secret prayers with my Father, that He is most concerned about the well-being of my spirit. My faith and belief are of the greatest concern to Him. More than a prayer being answered, it is about my oneness with Him. The intimacy that develops when I share my heart, my desires, my confessions of sin, and my whole being with Him. It is the power of what happens during that process that ends up being the greatest miracle. The answer to the prayer is just the icing.

What is it that you need to approach your Heavenly Father about today? Oh, friend, go to Him. Go to a secret place and pour your heart out to Him. Believe that He hears you. Believe that He will answer. 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

praying secrets,


Jul 12, 2017

Where everybody knows your name....

God uses the most random of places to speak to me. Can you relate?

This time it was at Walmart.

As I was checking out my groceries recently, I looked up and saw this beautiful girl waving at me with a big warm smile.

Sheepishly, I smiled back at her. She looked familiar. Maybe a past babysitter? Did we go to church together? How do I know this sweet girl?

My brain was empty. Nada. No recollection.

A few minutes later as she is leaving, she comes right up to me and says, "Hey, Jill! How are you? How is Presley doing?"

Suddenly my brain came back to life.

I had met her a few weeks ago at our local orthodontist office. I had spent at least 30 minutes in her office discussing braces for my little girl.

When my brain finally charged back up, she and I chatted and talked for a few seconds in that Walmart checkout line.

As she walked off, I sat in amazement that she remembered my name. And my daughters name. We had only met once.

I was struck by how comfortable she made me feel by the one simple fact that she called me by name.

It felt good to be remembered. It felt special.

I got in my car and prayed that God would help me to be more like this young girl. More in tune with people. Listening to them as they talk. REMEMBERING their names.

Our names are so precious to God. In fact, our names are engraved on His Hand.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:16

When someone calls us by name, it shows intimacy. A knowing.

Remember the story of the Samaritan woman at the well? [John 4:1]

Jesus approached her and talked with her. He knew all about this perfect stranger. She could not believe how much he knew. How could He know so much?

Because He loved her.

One of my favorite shows growing up was "Cheers".

When people walked into the bar called "Cheers", everyone said the persons name that walked in.

In fact, the theme song was, "Where everybody knows your name".

One of the lines of the song says this:

Sometimes you want to go...
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came....
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.

Oh, but isn't this true?

Don't we all have this deep desire to be known? To be loved? To walk into a room and people know your precious name and they are so glad to see you?

I know I do.

That day in Walmart. I felt loved.

I felt remembered.

I felt known.

I believe God used this sweet girl as a reminder to my heart to do the same to others.

Love others by knowing them.

Love others by remembering their names.

Love others by being glad to see them every time you see them.

What a simple way to love others.

It doesn't take extravagant gifts, or extravagant planning.

I'm so challenged to live this way.

Will you join me?

Thank you, Miranda. I will never forget you. Or your name.



Jul 11, 2017

Check yes or no...

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[original post 7/10/15]

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

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

Nothing was clear.

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


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

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

My answer came yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We lean on God in these times.

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

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

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

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

The answer was just a simple, "yes".

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

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

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

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

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

Are you facing a hard decision today?

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

Go for the harder choice.

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

Wait and see.

just say yes,


Jun 29, 2017

I got crowned....

Well, yesterday I finally received my crowns.

Not the ones you are probably thinking.

The crowns that go in the mouth. You know, the dental kind of crowns. [insert an eye roll]

I have put these off for the better part of a year. Maybe more, but who's counting?

Dread is an understatement.

I abhor dental work of any kind. I get anxious. I get fearful. I just don't like people's hands in my mouth. Ever.

As I drove to the appointment, I asked my daughter to pray.

I felt some peace as she prayed a sweet prayer.

But, soon after, my stomach was in knots again.

When I arrived, they took me back. They plopped me in that big leather chair, and my hands were shaking. Really, I mean shaking.

I was thinking of every excuse possible to escape. I could tell them I was sick and needed to go. I could tell them there was an emergency and I needed to flee. I could tell them this was all a big mistake and I was fine without having crowns in my mouth!

Suddenly, I heard in my spirit the words, "Be thankful, Jill."

Huh? Who said that?

Thankful for what??


I immediately began praying. Not out loud. Because you know, they already think I am looney.

I thanked the Lord that I was able to have dental work done. I thanked the Lord that I could afford to pay for the "crowns" in my mouth. I thanked the Lord for my dentist and all who had studied the mouth and teeth and knew what the heck they were doing.

I prayed for our missionary friends, The Dubose's. Josh Dubose and his family are in Peru doing missionary work, and helping with the dental needs in that area. I thought about the many needs they must come across every single day.

I thanked God for how blessed I was to be able to have medicine to numb my mouth when many others do not have this privilege.

Eventually, my heart stopped racing. My hands stopped shaking, and I began to feel a huge rush of peace.

Half way into our little crowning session my dentist said, "Jill, you are so much less anxious than usual. I know you don't like dental work, but you are extra calm today."

I gave him a crooked, numb-mouthed smile, and said, "Prayer is powerful."

Replacing my fear and anxiety with gratitude changed everything. Instead of just praying for the fear to go away, I replaced the prayer with thankfulness and praying for others.

Maybe this is why Paul tells us:

Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Are you dreading something today?

Pray and give thanks.

Peace will come swiftly. Just ask my dentist.

newly crowned,