Oct 19, 2017

There goes my heart.....

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So, I thought I would post this while it is still raw. If I wait too long the words will fall flat. [Just like my hair mid-July.]

Today my son drove to school for the first time. He turned 16 in August.

If you would have told me 3 years ago that I would not be a basket case all day, I would have laughed in your cute face.

Well, I was not a basket case.

Let me rephrase, I was not a basket case all day.

When I saw his red tail lights pull out something inside of me went numb.

Like, a weird heart stopping surreal moment.

It would be the first time in 12 years that I have not driven this kid to school.

The first time I had not prayed for him in the car on the way.

The first time my daughter got to ride shot gun the whole entire way to her school.

Yesterday, I did not realize it would be officially the last time I would drive him. Why didn't someone tell me?

Like, when my daughter stopped taking baths. Why didn't someone tell me that the last time I would run the water over her little blonde head would be that day?

Or, when my son stopped wanting to sleep on the floor in our room. I don't remember how it stopped, it just did.

Motherhood is hard.

It's about letting go.

Over and over and over.

I don't want to let go though.

I want to hang on white knuckled to these days. These moments. These seconds.

However, I know they will change yet again.

There will be more change. More loss. More seasons of hard.

We toughen up somewhat through the seasons. We adapt a little better each time. We feel the same pain of letting go, but we know there is good on the other side.

We just have to get used to the new normal of change.

Mom's of teenagers, you know what I mean.

You know this new normal.

It's a terrifying season in so many ways.

Yet, who do I trust?

Do I trust that I can protect my son and guard him 24/7?

Or do I put my trust in the One who knitted that boy together in this womb of mine 16 years ago.

The One who knows the very number of hairs on his sandy blonde head.

The One who put the sparkle in his light green eyes.

The One, the only One, who sees the length and breadth of my boy's days here on Earth.

I will trust Him.

He loves this boy of mine more than I do.

Impossible to fathom, but I know it to be true.

As I watched him walk out the door, I realized....

I had to believe what I had taught him all those years.

All of those scriptures about God's love for us. God's protection over us. God's sovereignty. God's peace. God's will to be done....

The rubber met the road in those moments.

Do I trust Him with my boy?

Or, do I take back everything I have ever impressed on this boy's heart and fall apart in front of him begging him to stay and to never leave this place.

From the moment those babies of ours leave the safe haven of our womb, we begin the letting go process.

Our Father knows how we feel.

He sent His Son to Earth to be beaten, scoffed at, abused, spat upon, murdered on a bloody Cross.

He knew these things had to happen in order for His perfect plan to be accomplished.

I believe it is the same with our children.

God has a perfect plan for their lives.

We are a big part of it...

But, we have to trust God with His plan for them. His will for their lives.

We plant the seeds....

God makes them grow.

If we hover over our children, they don't get the chance to grow. Just like a seed with shadows instead of sunlight.

The seeds need the light of day, the space to grow, to flourish.

So do our children.

God hears our prayers over their lives.

Before Joseph walked out the door this morning,  I read this passage in 2 Peter.

It gripped my heart and reminded me of my calling as a mother.

I prayed it as a letter to my son.

Dear Joseph,

12So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our LORD Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things [2 Peter 1:12-15]


Momma's, keep refreshing their memories. Remind them of what you have taught them.

Make every effort.


letting Jesus take the wheel,


jill



















Oct 17, 2017

Please stop talking...

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My morning routine consists of coffee, bible reading, and then consciousness. It takes coffee and Jesus to get me conscious. Obviously. 

Lately,  I've been reading a chapter of the New Testament, a Proverb, and a Psalm.

The Proverb that I read each day never EVER fails to convict me. Did I say EVER?

Like, today.

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

Crickets.

Hello out there?

You still with me?

I had the same response after I read it too.

I mean, what do you say to that little dagger? Definitely nothing to say.

It actually makes me not want to talk at all. Maybe we could learn sign language and the world may be a much more peaceful place?

Seriously. It's something to think about.

My mind swirls to the many, many times I have talked too long. Said too much.

Each time I do, it is followed by a knot in my stomach. My mind repeats the words over and over in my little blonde head. I want to rewind time like I used to rewind my blockbuster videos before turning them in.

Women like to talk. Well most women anyway. If you don't you're just weird.

Totally kidding. Actually, if you don't like to talk I admire you and envy your wise self.

But, for talkers like myself, we can get ourselves into deep manure if we are not careful.

We can talk too long and we can talk too much.

Scripture proves that we need to heed some discipline with our word count. Take a look at this little doozie..

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. Proverbs 10:19

As I begin to ponder [and be convicted] by this scripture, I thought of some reasons why I tend to talk too much at times.

-pride
-insecurity
-proving my point -i.e. pride
-uncertain of what to say, so I just said anything...i.e insecurity.

I could go on, but for the sake of your precious time and my precious ego, we will stop here.

Bottom line, ladies...

Let's think before we speak.

Let's pray before we respond.

Let's be okay with awkward silence as opposed to foolish words.

So, on that note, I will end with few words as to not look foolish...


 goodbye in sign language.


jill








Oct 11, 2017

Don't look back...

I have been reading in the book of Acts. The journey of Saul/Paul fascinates me. The early church was rising and Paul was a big part of the mission.

You know about Paul, right? His  name was first Saul and he was a devout Jew. Jesus met him on the road one day and blinded his eyes. Basically, Jesus said this to Paul, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

Saul answered, "Who are you, Lord?"

Jesus replied, "I am Jesus who you are persecuting, now get up and go into the city and I will tell you what you must do."

[Acts 9--go READ. it is fascinating]

The rest is history. Paul becomes one of the greatest disciples and missionaries to ever walk the face of the Earth.

So, let's get this straight...one day Saul [later named Paul] is breathing out murderous threats to all of Jesus' disciples, and the next day he is a follower of Jesus.

Seriously though, this sounds a lot like my every day life.

One day I am a fire breathing dragon, the next day I am ironing my Sunday skirt worshipping in my loudest tone-deaf voice.

Do you ever feel this way?

I hope you said yes. Really, even if just to make me feel normal.

On the days when I am a fire breathing dragon, I find myself in a pit of despair by the end of the day.

The enemy wants me to think I am unredeemable. Unworthy. Useless.

Paul could have felt this way. He could have let his past determine his future. But, he didn't.

He walked straight on with Jesus. He left his shady past in the dust and walked on.

I am sure he left his buddies dumbfounded.

A sweet friend just said to me recently, "when we obey God, there is usually someone that gets their feelings hurt in the process." Gosh, what wisdom.

Aren't we glad Paul didn't look back?

Half of the New Testament would not be written if he would have wallowed  in his past sin.

My past regrets can haunt me at times. I think about things I could have done differently or said differently. I turn it over and over in my head. It will drive me crazy if I let it.

The enemy wants me to live in guilt, condemnation and regret.

Jesus came for me to have "life and life to the fullest!" John 10:10

Paul's past helped him to have more compassion for others. It also gave him a purpose.

If Paul would have had a perfect life from the beginning I wonder if he would have ever been called? Jesus knew Paul would have a heart afire for God because He knew Paul had lived so long in the darkness.

I love how Jesus blinded Saul/Paul with light on that road to Damascus. What a perfect visual of what He does for us.

Once we step out into the darkness and into the Light of Christ, we never long for that darkness again. We want to live in the Light.

But, from time to time we step our toes back in the darkness. We want to go back and pull up what God has redeemed in our lives because we grieve our past sins. Proverbs calls this, "like a dog returning to his vomit". Proverbs 26:11

We are set free. Why would we want to be in chains again?

If we are to live lives of purpose and freedom we must walk with Him, straight ahead. Remembering His Goodness, but forgetting what lies behind.

Oh, Paul, we have so much to learn from you.

Friend, if Jesus has called you into His Light, live there. Walk on with Him.

He has so much in store for you. Immeasurably more than you can imagine.

Tell the enemy to flee when he reminds you of your past. Tell him Who you belong to. You bear the mark of Christ. Redeemed. Forever.


walking on,


jill













Sep 29, 2017

Just Breathe....

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Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

I recently signed up for some yoga classes. Two precious friends teach at this studio, so I decided to give it a try.

In the past, I have always kind of rolled my eyes at yoga. It wasn't challenging enough.  Or so I thought.

Boy, was I wrong.

Here is why I love yoga: It forces me to slow down. And breathe.

Breathing is something that we often forget to do.

Slowing down is not even on most of our radars.

Why is this?

In my early parenting years, I thought by the time my kids became teenagers life would slow down.

It is completely the opposite.

Life will never slow down.

There will always be something to do.

There is a story in the bible that I can relate to so  much. It is the story of Mary and Martha.

Jesus comes to visit and Mary sits at His feet soaking up every word. Martha on the other hand is busy and distracted. She cannot sit down because there is just too much to be done. Oh my, can you relate?

Here is the passage:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I have been Martha so many times. Inviting company over and stressed to the max before they even get here. Dreading that I even asked them over!

Seriously? What is wrong with me.

Suddenly, I notice every single dust spot in my house. Every single flaw. I notice suddenly how small my kitchen is and how some [most] of our plates are chipped. Then, I yell at everyone not to touch a blessed thing or they shall surely DIE.

Martha, Martha. I get you.

Here Jesus was at her house. Jesus, the Son of God. Surely she wanted everything to be perfect.

But,  her sister Mary wanted only one thing...she wanted to be with Jesus.  To slow down and sit at His feet. She wanted to inhale His presence, breathing in His holiness.

Mary lived in the present, Martha lived in perfection.

Mary probably did some Holy Yoga from time to time. [kidding]

I love to write. It is pure therapy to my soul. However, sometimes I just don't make time for it. There are just too many demands. Or are there?

Maybe I just cannot slow down enough to stop and do the things I enjoy. The things that bring joy to my heart.

Mary stopped. She quieted herself. She knew what her heart needed.

I have a challenge for us. Well, it is really for me, but I would love for you to do this with me.

Let's stop. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale.

Let's notice what is happening right in the very present. Oh, don't you see? That's where Jesus is.

He is with the people around us. The little faces we feed everyday. The big husband face we tend to. The little puppy face that gets into every living thing.

Jesus is there. In all of it. Right where you are.

We keep the plates spinning so fast that we don't stop and put those plates down, and breathe. Breathe in the sweetness of your child's breath. The humming of a dishwasher that holds those chipped plates that the very loves of your life eat from. The birds chirping out that window that needs cleaning.

He is in all of this.

"But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. 2 Chronicles 6:18

What do you say we take time to breathe today?

If you are with me, send me a note via email, or leave a comment. I need to know I am not alone here. I need to know there are more Martha's out there in pursuit of Mary-ness.

We can do this. Together.

grabbing my yoga mat,

jill




















Sep 20, 2017

Do you want to be great?

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

I have recently seen this versed lived out before my very eyes.

Many times I have struggled with the meaning of what Jesus was saying here. He was asked by the disciples this question: "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Jesus replied aptly to their question sending shock waves to their system I would suppose.

Little children? Such little knowledge? Such unlearned ways? Really?

Really.

Jesus says this next: "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Again, shock waves.

In our minds we think the greatest should be the holiest in deeds, the one who prays out loud at every and any opportunity, the one who quotes the bible day in and day out...

But, Jesus says the greatest will be like children.

What is it about children that Jesus would say such a thing?

Recently, I observed this and finally this scripture came to life.

One of my children was treated unfairly by a friend. My child was criticized by a couple of friends who this child looks up to greatly.

The heart of my child was broken.

So, of course, the heart of this child's momma was broken as well.

Not just broken, but flat out mad.

So mad that I could not see straight.

Suddenly, every part of Jesus inside of me wanted to exit the nearest door.  You know what I am talking about Momma's?

Yeah, that kind of mad.

I wanted to set the record straight with the children who had hurt my child AND their parents.

Yet, the response I saw in my child changed me. And humbled my prideful heart.

My child was forgiving. Beyond belief.

So forgiving that I wanted so badly to say, "You don't have to be so nice. Tell these kids off!"

But, I didn't by the grace of the Living Jesus inside of me.

I watched this child extend grace beyond measure as I watched with my mouth agape.

This child hasn't lost an ounce of sleep. All is well in this child's heart.

It's harder for me. I wanted revenge for the hurt. I wanted to rescue my child and bandage up the wounds. Just like a momma bear would do.

However, this child showed me better.

We will do well watching children interact. They trust easier. They forgive easier. They let things go easier.

Children don't put up walls and fortresses around their hearts. They are on open door inviting others in.

Whew. I am telling you...I am begging Jesus for a heart like a child's. A heart that loves without conditions. Forgives without holding grudges.

And, can we talk about humility here?

That's probably the hardest part.

When we have been hurt we swell up with pride and anger...

Just the opposite of humility.

Here's the thing...

We can read the bible every morning from cover to cover.

We can tape scripture up all over our houses.

We can attend every church service.

But, y'all...

If we don't change and become like little children, we fail miserably.

Peace will escape us if we don't change our hardened adult hearts.

I am sickened by my heart at times. Oh, but I see there is HOPE.

Hope for the battered state of my heart...

Hope for the anger that fogs up my way to see Jesus...

Hope for the pride that kills off every ounce of humility...

Friend, do you want to be great?

Change and become like a child.


back to childhood,


jill












Sep 11, 2017

On this day....

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." Mark 16:15-16

I will never forget this day 16 years ago.

It changed me forever.

I had just given birth to my first child.

It was a gorgeous September day. He and I had just went for a stroll around our neighborhood. I was just getting into the swing of being a mother.  Life was so sweet. So innocent. So perfect.

Until, I heard an alert come on the news about 30 minutes after our morning stroll. Something in my heart knew all was not well. I could just sense something was wrong.

I sat in my green rocking chair, holding my 5 week old baby boy. My eyes were glued to the screen.

My pulse began to quicken and a felt a cold chill go down my neck.

My first panic attack.

I thought I was about to die right there in the green chair holding my newborn.

Life changed in the moment.

My eyes were opened to evil in a way that I had never seen before.

I realized in an instant the sanctity of life. The utter amazement of breath in our lungs and the rhythm of the beating in our hearts.

I wonder if this is how Eve must have felt when her eyes were opened to sin? When she realized that life would never be the same after she took the bite of that fruit.

Perhaps there is a moment for all of us. A moment when we must choose....will it be a life or will it be death.

In the years to follow after 9/11, I had a choice to make.

Would I choose to live in panic, fear, anxiety and torment?

Or, would I choose peace, joy, and faith.

I could not have it both ways, I soon discovered.

After many years, many doctors, many medicines, I finally found the cure.

Jesus Himself.

He was there all along. Beckoning me to His side.

I knew Him, but I didn't know Him.

One day, I opened God's Word in a desperate pursuit of peace. I found peace, and so much more.

I think about the many who did not know Jesus on that September day, 16 years ago. They had no idea their lives would end that day. No idea.

They probably thought they had forever to choose life. Forever to choose Jesus.

But, they didn't. And neither do we.

The state of our world brings anxiety to my heart. Not anxiety over war, or storms.....but over the lives of those who still don't know Jesus.

This keeps me up at night. I picture their faces. Precious faces.

What if they don't know about Jesus? What if they don't know Who He is and what He's done?

Or, what if all they know of Jesus is religious people who judge them and turn their backs on them.

Or, religious people who reflect anything but love, gentleness, peace, and kindness.

Or, religious people that attend faithfully to their church services, but hold hatred and grudges in their hearts against others.

Or, religious people that say all the right things, but their actions show anything but love.

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Matthew 15:8

Or, religious people who think they are showing love by not sharing Truth in a loved one's life. We watch idly on the side lines as if we pity them and their sin. Shame on us.

May our pity never stop us from sharing the Gospel of Jesus. Even if they turn away from us, may it never be that we turn away from them.

Pity will not change a heart. But, Jesus can.

Are we loving others enough to tell them about Jesus? Or, are we afraid we will offend them.

For Heavens sake, if we offend them, then count it all joy.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" James 1:2

Who do you need to share Jesus with today?

Listen, we don't need to be bible scholars to talk about what Jesus has done in our lives. We just need to have courage to speak up, and love other enough to tell them.


speaking up,


jill








Sep 7, 2017

What are you being accused of?

[Original Post 9/24/15]

Hey, friends. Can we have a little chat? I'm not too happy about something.

This "something" is bugging me in a BIG way. In fact, I am downright MAD about this thing.

As I was reading in my Bible this morning, in Zechariah to be exact, I came across something.

I had to pause, and read it again. And again. And again.

In the passage of scripture, God calls Satan "The Accuser".  Here, see for yourself:

Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel's right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. Zechariah 3:1

This got me thinking of a few accusations the Accuser himself has thrown my way. Let's talk this out for a minute. Have you ever heard a little whisper inside of your head accusing you of things?

See if these words sound familiar to you...

You're a horrible mom.
You're kids deserve better than you.
You're not smart enough.
You're not pretty enough.
You're nothing special.
She is so much better than you.
You're too old.
You're too young.
You're fat and you always will be.
Nobody likes you, anyway.
Just keep your mouth shut, nobody really cares what you have to say.
You're not cut out for this.
You're a failure at everything.
Your marriage is over.
You may as well give up.
Nobody wants you.

I could go on for days with the accusations. Even years.

I am sick to death of these LIES. Why is it so much easier to believe a lie than the TRUTH?

Here's what God says...

You are beautiful.
You are God's masterpiece and perfect design.
You were created for a purpose.
God chose YOU to be your kids momma, and YOU are the best mom for them.
You are smart because you have the mind of Christ.
God has a future and a hope and a plan just for you.
You are the apple of God's eye.
You can be used at any age! [think about Sarah and Abraham]
You are wanted.
You are desired.
You're marriage is Holy in God's eyes.
You are oh-so LOVED.

All of these truths are backed by scripture--every last one of them. Look them up for yourselves.

Listen to what God tells the accuser in the next sentence of that scripture:

And the LORD said to Satan, "I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. Zechariah 3:2

Did you hear that? Read that one more time.

God, the Creator of the Universe, REJECTS AND REBUKES, the Accuser.

God calls Satan out for who he really is....a LIAR. An ACCUSER.

Satan knows God's truth will set us free. Satan knows that if we believe God, we will further God's Kingdom in a huge and mighty way. Satan knows that if we break the chains of the accusations, he will have no jurisdiction in our lives anymore. Satan knows that once we believe God's truth we will fulfill our God-appointed and God-given destinies. So, the accuser continues to accuse.

Are we believing the accusations? Are we paralyzed from these lies? Are we so chained to these accusations that we are giving up our God-given freedom and purpose on this earth?

I am sick to death of this.

The Accuser is a LIAR.

Say that with me out loud--THE ACCUSER IS A LIAR.

Will you refuse,  REFUSE, to believe the lies of the accuser??

Whatever lie he has been whispering, YELL TRUTH back to him!

He has been exposed for who he really is. An accuser. A liar.

God called him out.

Will you call him out too?

Break the chains of the accusations today, and believe what God says about you.

Who created you?

Who designed you and knitted you in your mother's womb? [psalm 139:13]

Believe Him.

Believe Him.

Believe Him.

And, while you are at it, tell the Accuser to go back to HELL where he came from. The Accuser has NO authority over you anymore.


breaking some chains today,

jill

Jeremiah 29:11
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.


Sep 5, 2017

Let it be....

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

I do not like pain. Of any kind.

I will go to great measures to avoid pain. Avoiding danger, rejection, or hurt of any kind, I look for the path of least resistance many times.

Recently, I watched as my husband disciplined our little puppy. I got mad at him because I thought he was being too harsh.

Lem said back to me, "If I don't train him now to do the right thing, he won't be an obedient dog."

He was right, but I didn't like to see my puppy get in trouble. I like the fun, the cuddling, the playing...not the disciplining.

I realized at that moment that I had a habit of trying to avoid pain and trying to help others avoid pain as well.

A heart of compassion is good, but it must be balanced with proper wisdom. I must know when to show compassion and when to realize that God will often bring suffering to bring the best possible fruit.

One of my children went through a very hard season recently. It broke me. I could not stand to see this child so unhappy and heart broken.

I would have given anything to make this child happy. Anything to save this child from suffering.

However, during this time, the Lord taught me so much about the need for suffering. The value in suffering. The discipline of suffering.

I watched my child grow closer to the Lord. I watched my child have more compassion on others that were suffering. I watched my child grow in character like nothing else would have grown them.

This child recently said to me, "I am glad I went through the painful season, Mom. It helped me to see things differently and change my heart in some ways."

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

When we see those we love suffer, it breaks us. We try any measure to take their pain away. But, I am learning to pray them through the suffering instead of trying to rescue them from it.

I cannot rescue anyone. Only God can do this. Only God can see the big picture of the suffering. Who am I to try to step into the middle of what God is doing in the life of someone else?

Yes, we should be compassionate. Yes, we should help when we can. But, no, we should not try to rescue them from what God is doing through all of this. We will wear ourselves out trying to salve every wound and we will also keep the sufferer further and further from the fruit of that suffering.

Sometimes we do things that we should not be doing because we don't want to disappoint another person. We want to save that person from a little pain, so we end up walking a path or extending ourselves into places that God has not called us to. All for the sake of wanting to protect someone from a little pain.

In God's infinite wisdom, He has a purpose for the suffering. He has a purpose for the times when we have to say yes to God and no to another person.

When we try to please man and not God, we walk on dangerous ground. When we are not obedient in what He is telling us to do, we get out of His will and it's not a good place to be.

Pain is part of the process.  Discipline yields fruit. Labor brings life.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

When I was in labor with my second child, I was rushed to the hospital. The doctor told me I needed to have a C-section immediately. I was petrified. I was so scared of being cut wide open on that table. I was fearful of the suffering that was looming ahead of me.

I looked over at my husband and said, "I can't do this, Lem! I am so scared! Please don't make me do this."

He took my hand and said, "Jill, there's only one option here. You have to do this to see your baby girl. You have to go through this to see her face. There is no other choice."

He was right.

When I saw her angelic face, I forgot about the pain. It quickly escaped my memory. All I saw was the sweet fruit of all of that labor. I would have done it a million more times to hold her in my arms.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.
 
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
 
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
 
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.
 
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!
 
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!
 
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.
 
            But neither happened!
 
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
 
It never was able to fly…
 
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings.
 
 Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.
 
 
letting it be,
 
 
jill






Aug 30, 2017

Oh brother....


"Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

The book of James is wrecking me. WRECKING me, I tell you.

Do you know about James? He was the brother of Jesus. The BROTHER of Jesus!

I tend to sit up straight and lean in close when reading James' words. He lived, slept, ate, laughed with, and probably did a little brotherly wrestling with...Jesus Christ.

Here's the thing about James though..

He didn't believe Jesus was the Son of God until after Jesus' resurrection. James saw with his own two eyes the miracles that Jesus performed. He witnessed the character of Jesus, the love, the compassion...

Yet, he didn't believe.

Can you relate? Oh, I can.

How many times has Jesus shown me unbelievable mercy and miracles that blow me away...yet, I still doubt Him at times.

Maybe that is why I can relate to James. He is flawed. He missed out on believing while Jesus was right next to him. Yet, James eventually saw the Truth. And, he never stopped proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. Until he drew his last breath.

James' words live on. They speak to the deepest parts of our hearts. They are stamped with truth. Hard truth at times. Conviction laden truth.

This year began with an awakening of my soul.

It started in January. In Memphis, Tennessee You know the story. If not, you can find it here.

God used a homeless man to awaken my heart to suffering and poverty.

I thought I had opened eyes, but I did not. Hey

Like many of us, I was immune to poverty on this level. I live in a safe little bubble in a safe little town.

Robert, the homeless man, opened my eyes.

The theme of poverty has been going on since I met Robert. I am disgusted by my own selfishness. My own greed. My own discontent.

How many times I have repented since meeting Robert. Lord, forgive me of greed and ingratitude.

This morning as I watched the news I saw many without homes, without clothes...without anything.

A hurricane can ravage a town, but it cannot ravage a soul.

When we lose everything, we gain everything.

We see life in a way that we have not seen life before. We begin to be thankful for things we daily took for granted.

Like bread. Like water. Like showers. Like clothes.

Honestly, I think the toughest layer to remove from our hardened hearts is greed and love of money.

I never in a million years thought I was greedy. Until I saw my mom offer her new jacket to the homeless man, and I felt relief that I didn't have to give him mine. Shame, so much shame I felt in  Thank the days to follow.

Conviction followed the shame. I didn't know the condition of my heart until it was put to the test.

Oh, but the Lord knew. He knew there were some places that needed softened, buffed out, and shaped.

Since January, poverty has been a common theme. I see it everywhere now. I beg and ask God, what can I do, Lord? I don't have much to give. How can I give when I have so little it seems?

I think of the lady with the alabaster jar of perfume. She gave all she had to pour over the head of Jesus. The people thought she was out of her mind. [Matthew 26:7-11]

But, Jesus praised her sacrifice. He knew that her faith and love were greater than all the religious teachers combined.

She gave all she had because she knew that Jesus was all she needed.

God can take the very little we have and invest it into a very big eternal treasure. Treasures we may never even see here on Earth, but we will surely see when we get to heaven.

The gift is more about the heart. The sacrifice. The willingness to lay down treasures in order to receive the greatest treasure of all....Jesus.

If we know the Word of God upside down, can quote scripture like a theologian, but don't have a heart to give...what will we gain?

James tells us this:

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.


We can have all the faith in the world, but when our faith is not accompanied by deeds, we are useless.

Faith leads to action. Every single time.

What is the Lord asking you to do?

What is He asking you to lay down for the sake of following Him?

I know it's hard.

So hard.

But, not following Jesus in obedience is much harder. I don't want to go anywhere that God has not told me to go. Or do anything that He has not asked me to do. We will never find life there. Only death and barrenness.

Every time we pass a homeless person I tell my children to show kindness. We may very well be serving them in Heaven one day.

God's economy looks a lot different than ours, friends.

His wealth is different than what we consider wealth.

May we do well with what He has given us.


wrecked,

jill






Aug 29, 2017

Give it away...

As Fall approaches, I go into clean out the house mode. Most people do this in the Spring, but not me.

I purge closets, papers, anything that is piling up.

Yesterday as I was going through my clothes, I was saddened.

I have so much stuff.

Stuff. Stuff. Stuff.

It hit me hard after watching a Hurricane Harvey flood victim talk about how she had lost everything. However, she had her family and that was all she needed.

Guilt racked me.

So many people have so much less. Yet, I am never content at times.

Always wanting more, more, more.

Jesus had an encounter with a rich man. It convicts to the core.


17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. Mark 10:17-27

We, Americans, are the rich young ruler this passage speaks of.

If you live in this country, you are wealthy.

If you are reading this email, you are wealthy.

If you are drinking out of a water bottle or coffee cup, you are wealthy.

Yet, we don't see it this way, do we?

We see what others have around us and it makes us want more.

We see the clothes our friends' kids wear and we want to dress our kids the same.

We want to drive cars that make people stop and notice.

I am not saying all of this to make us feel guilty, but to make us aware of our wealth.

And to make us aware of our need for poverty...

Poverty of spirit.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 5:3

When we hunger and thirst for the world, we begin to look like the world. We have an overflowing amount of stuff that we hold so tightly to.

We conform to the world when we conform to our desire for more wealth.

I too am guilty.

Guilty of too much.

Too much stuff.

Too much of desiring more.

When will it end? This crazy cycle of consumption.

What will we do?

Give. Give. Give.

And give some more.

The only thing that stops the demon of greed is the fruit of giving.

1 Tim. 6:17-19 Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.   Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven--it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.


Who and what do we trust in?

Our possessions? Our wealth?

Or, in Jesus.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34

Give it away, friends.

He will bless every ounce of what you give. And then some.

still purging,

jill











Aug 22, 2017

I am poor....

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:2-4



Dear Sam,

Have you ever wanted to trade places with someone? Like, have you ever been so moved by someone that you just wanted to crawl into their skin and get whatever it is that they have and become them?

I have.

It happened this past Sunday when we met.

You work at Publix. You insisted on taking my groceries to the car. I did an internal eye roll because I wasn't in the mood for small talk. My daughter was even with me so we really didn't need your help.

Or so we thought.

You talked to me the whole entire way to my car. You even pointed out my car. How did you know that was my car? I am still scratching my head over that one.

As you unloaded our groceries in the car you asked many questions.

I was taken aback by your obvious concern over how our day was going. You even asked what we had eaten for lunch that day.

You must have seen the tiredness in my eyes. The battle inside of my head that was raging on that day.

How could you know?

Sam, here's the thing. Sometimes I just don't feel like I am enough.

I feel many times that I have nothing left to give. Empty.

Surrounded by people with many gift, talents, resources to share with the world, I often feel like I am holding out empty hands. Ashamed by the scarceness.

I hear  the enemy screaming in my ears on many days these words, "you will never be enough. you have nothing to give that anyone wants, and everyone sees your poverty."

Poverty.

Poverty of soul.

Poverty of resources.

Poverty of talent.

Yet, something in your eyes made me see things differently.

You had given me nothing, yet you gave me everything that day.

I had nothing tangible to take home with me. No special gift, no money, no expensive gesture...

But, I was filled.

You filled me with your love.

Your concern.

Your listening ear.

Your kindness.

Your gentleness.

Your knowing....that I was not doing okay.

How did you know?

See, I want to have what you have.

I want to be in your skin.

I want to serve without having to give a tangible thing...

I want to make be the hands and feet of Jesus without even realizing it...

I want to make people feel like you made me feel...

You know Jesus, don't you. I just know that you do.

He lives in you. He speaks through you. He breathes through you.

You breathed Jesus all over me that day.

I inhaled the sweet smell of being "enough"....even with empty hands.

Your hands were empty, yet they gave.

Everything, they gave me that day.

Sam, I have not stopped picturing your face. Your smile. Your warmth.

You left a mark on my heart that will never be erased.

I want what you have.

Thank you, Sam.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3


holding out my empty hands,

jill







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.

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.

jill





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, 

jill










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.

Ohhhh.

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.?

Anyone?

Buehler?

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,


jill