Dec 28, 2017

Let it go...

Luke 23:24, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing"

Can I be just real straight up vulnerable with you? [shocking, right]

I came across my prayer journal from a year ago this very day. From time to time, I go back to remember. To see what was on my heart. To see the path of God's faithfulness.

As I flipped back to December of 2016, I stopped on one of the entries. I read it slowly.

I want to share it with you because it may encourage you. It may release some pent up stuff happening in that heart of yours. Sometimes we don't know we are in bondage until we begin to pour our hearts out to the Lord. Suddenly, He releases some long held hurts and injuries.

Here's the entry from December  2016:

Father, I forgive those who have hurt me. I release all of the hurt, rejection, anger, bitterness....all of it. When people reject me, they are really rejecting You. 

Forgive me for not forgiving. Open my heart. Slice it right open. I release all of the rejection, hurt, anger, bitterness--I lay it at Your feet and ask that You heal my heart because it belongs to You. 

My spirit abides in You. 

Father, from this moment on, I walk in forgiveness. I walk in Grace. I walk in Humility. I walk in LOVE. I walk in Joy. I walk in Hope. 

My heart is encased in Yours. It will not be penetrated by hurt and hurt will NOT change me. I am full of JOY. And Hope. And Laughter. And Love. 

I will not be afraid to express love, encouragement, kindness--because of fear of rejection. I will not self-protect anymore. God has my heart encased in His. 

Father, thank you for speaking Your words into me. Thank You for setting me free. 

I am a new creation. Created in the image of God. To live a life of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, GRACE, JOY, MERCY. 

I forgive _____. I forgive_______. I forgive_______. I forgive ________. I forgive ________. I forgive_______. 

I forgive friends who have hurt me. 

I release these loved ones to You. I ask that You bless them in a Mighty way. Pour Your Love over them-fill them with your Joy. Bless their families and give them Joy and Abundance. Fill their hearts with YOU, Lord! Let good things happen to them. Surround them with Peace. 

Lord, forgive me for holding these feelings in my heart. Lord, forgive them. For they know not what they do. 

Forgive me for letting feelings and thoughts eat at me and consume me.  

If I am rejected, I consider it an honor to walk the same road that Jesus walked. Through pain, Jesus loved and gave His life. 

Lord, I want to love like Jesus. Without holding back. 

Thank you for releasing me from these chains of unforgiveness. I am set free today. 

I hold nothing against anyone. What can man do to me? 

If God is for me, who can be against me? Romans 8:31

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13

Lead me, Father. Guide me down the path of Love, Holiness, Sanctification and Mercy. I choose You. Above all else. 

In Jesus Name, amen. 


As I read this entry, I was amazed at how the Lord had done exactly as I had asked. I was released. I had a fresh heart. I had fresh eyes to see these people as Jesus saw them.

I didn't even realize I had been holding so much inside until I released it to God.

Start this new year fresh. With a clean and pure heart. Leaving all of the baggage of unforgiveness behind.

We cannot live for Jesus if we live in bitterness and hold grudges.  It is just not possible.


freedom,


jill


Dec 18, 2017

Do you need a miracle?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Last night, I sat in the floor of my shower for over an hour. The scalding hot water poured over my flesh. I buried my head in my knees as the water trickled down my body.

I needed a cleaning. Not from outside dirt, but from inside dirt.

My mouth had spoken words that were not grateful or holy. My thoughts had been filled with anxiety, worry and fear.

The day was spent shopping with my husband. Beginning with a beautiful church service, then off to our favorite town to shop.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt anxiety writhe my whole being. As we shopped for kids and family, I could feel the mounting pressure. I wanted to run. Far away.

I just felt the overwhelming pull of fear that what we were getting wasn't enough. It would not put a smile on the faces we were purchasing for. It was meager, or so it seemed.

My mouth even uttered the most horrible words perhaps my lips have ever formed..."I hate Christmas."

I know. I know.

What was wrong with me??

My husband turned to me and said, "What??? You love Christmas more than anyone I know."

I shrugged my shoulders holding back tears.

This is the part that I didn't like about Christmas. The pressure that I put on myself. To measure up. To do more than I knew we had. To spend more than I knew we could afford.

This is the part that I teach my kids about. Shaking my finger in their faces about the "true meaning of Christmas".

Yet, here I was...

Full of bitter gall...

Full of anxious thoughts...

Full of the pressure to give a gift that would knock the Christmas socks off of a loved one...

The exact opposite of the true meaning of Christmas.

As I sat in my shower, washing off the crud of my thoughts, and my words....

Hot tears steamed down my face.

The pull of the world was fierce.

The pull of the enemy was fiercer.

Whispers of the enemy's lies were ringing in my ears.

Your gifts will never be enough.

You will never be enough.

I began to do war with those thoughts the most powerful way I knew how...

Reciting God's Word. Over and over.

This time is was Psalm 23.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need.

Then, I turned it into these words...

The Lord is my Shepherd, the kids have all that they need.

The Lord is my Shepherd, my husband has all that he needs.

The Lord is my Shepherd, my loved ones have all that they need.

Because, somehow, I had bought into the lie that we needed more.

That I needed to give more than I had.

That they needed to receive more than I could offer.

And the thoughts of disappointed faces as loved ones opened gift that were in my "budget", made me cringe in fear and anxiety.

Was this really what I believed Christmas was about?

Do I teach my children one thing, yet act out the exact opposite of my teaching?

Do I believe that the three wise men's gift to the Son of God had the ability to ruin the whole blessed nativity?

Good grief.

I know better than to believe these lies.

Christmas is not about the gifts.

But, the Gift.

The Gift to us.

To my heart and to yours.

The present of being Present with us on Earth. The Son of God....in all of His Glory.

This past weekend we traveled out of state to see family. One of our dear family members has cancer spots. In so many places.

He received the best news he could possibly receive this week.

The treatment is working. The cells are shrinking. A miracle.

I asked him how he was "doing". I asked him how it felt to have to wait, and wait, and wait....before receiving life-giving or life-taking answers.

He looked me straight in the eyes, his hair short and shorn from treatment, and spoke these words..

"I live in the present, Jill. I don't look back and I don't think about tomorrow. I live in the fullness of today. The present is my miracle."

I felt the air being released from my pent up, stress filled, anxiety ridden heart.

His words popped the hardened bubble of  discontent that was encasing my heart.

The room blurred for a minute. I could just hear his words, almost in slow motion.

Not really his words, but God's words to me.

The present is my miracle.

I had spent so much time worrying about tomorrow and the outcome of my Christmas gifts to others...the money stretching....the time crunching....

That I had missed the present miracle of today.

The miracle of being present.

Not thinking racing thoughts about how little time, how little money....

But, how much.

How much miracle I had.

In each moment. Full of family. Full of laughter. Full of love. Full of life.

The present is my miracle.

Lives lived looking back, or looking forward will miss the miracle.

Lives lived in the present, and in the Presence of Jesus....will be wrapped in the miracle.

Capture your thoughts today. Reign them in. Look around you. Beside you. In front of you. Lock eyes. Lock hands. Lock hearts.

Embrace the miracle of the present.

Embrace the Present--Jesus.

Tomorrow will hold new miracles. But, only if you find the ones today.

The Lord is our Shepherd, we have all that we need.



present,


jill






























Dec 6, 2017

When you don't feel significant...

Commit your work to the Lord,  and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

This time of year always gets my stomach in knots. I get a little anxious about the new year coming up.

I reflect on the past year, and I have that gnawing feeling, again, that my life just doesn't seem significant. 

Ever feel this way?

As I was mopping my floors today, my left side started to ache from bending over with the mop.

My mind was suddenly filled with this scripture, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."1 Corinthians 10:31

I smiled and said to the Lord audibly, "Okay, God, I am mopping these floors for you."

I was reminded in that moment that what I was doing was significant. It mattered.

The world would never know that I took so much care and time to mop my floor for my family, but God knew.

I don't clean and mop because I am a neat freak. I do it because I want my family to feel loved. And welcomed. And warm when they walk through the door each day.

To be honest, most days they have no idea the things I have done each day to try to make this home a place of calm and comfort for them, And, that's okay.

God knows.

One of the biggest struggles I have is feeling like my life matters. Is important. Is significant.

Often, I get my significance tangled up with the world's view of significance.

I forget that in God's eyes...

I am significant.

And so are the things that I do.

All of it.

The tiniest details of my day matter to Him.

Do I honor Him with these details, or am I constantly trying to drum up greater significance for my own pride?

As I was mopping today, side aching,  I heard a whisper in my soul..."They will remember. Your family will remember how well you loved them. "

I almost slipped on my wet floor.

My throat started to close, and tears welled up in my eyes.

Oh, Father. Let it be so. 

When I start to feel insignificant...when I compare my accomplishments to others...

I go back to this memory....


Of being a little girl. Dreaming of the day I could have a family of my own. Driving my children to school each day. Packing their little lunches. Going home to prepare for their return...

God answered those child sized prayers. More than I could ever imagine.

It's not what we do that makes us significant...

It's Whose we are.

It's Who we belong to.

If we submit our work, toilet scrubbing and all, to the Lord...

He will make it matter. He will give us a return greater than we can imagine.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

His Kingdom will be expanded here on Earth because we chose to give our work to Him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

You are worthy.

You are significant.

You matter.


back to the mop,

jill





Dec 5, 2017

When you don't fit in....

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14

As I sit here on my couch, blanket wrapped around my legs, I gaze at our Christmas tree. It's not the prettiest tree, by far.

It has colored lights. Mismatched ornaments. In fact, you will not find any matching ornaments on this tree. It's a jumble of color.

And I love it.

I feel a lot like this tree most days. Not the prettiest, not the neatest, and completely full of  random.

I see this big green tree dressed up in lights and crazy things hanging from it. Trying its best to fit in. To look like the other pretty Christmas trees in the windows.

Surely this tree feels out of place. This is not really this tree's home.

Have you ever felt this way?

We put on our make-up and our clothes, and our best selves. We go out into the world trying our best to just fit in. To not rock the boat. To not be too much.

When our insides are crying out to fit in. To be wanted. To be noticed. To be loved.

There is a man in our town. He's homeless. He lives in his van.

I wasn't sure for a while if he was homeless because he wore nicer clothes. Sometimes even his shirt was tucked in. His body and hair clean and no sign of dirty.

Perhaps, like us, he wants to fit in too.

My husband and I started up a conversation with him one day. He told us he lived in his van. Our suspicions were confirmed. But, I was still confused. He looked so.....normal.

When he told me his name, I almost fell to my knees. His name is David.

Of course, David is my all time favorite Old Testament man. David stole my heart in
2012.

If his name had been anything other than David, I may have easily forgotten it.

I have talked to him several times since that day we met, and something he told me recently has been weighing so heavy on my heart.

I asked him how his Thanksgiving was. He replied: "Just another day."

I had to choke back tears.

This man had no big lunch or dinner with family. He did the same thing he does every day. He sat in his van. He walked around town. Then, went back to his van to sleep for the night.

Just another day...

Have you ever felt that way?

Like, each day is just another day. Just another dish to wash. Just another bill to pay. Just another diaper to change. Just another day without a significant other. Just another day of being unnoticed. Just another day of a job that wears you slap out. Just another day at the hospital begging God to heal your loved one.

Just another day.

I remember a few years ago, some friends and I served dinner at a homeless shelter. That night, I went back home and told my husband, "I feel so at home among the homeless."

He looked at me like I was crazy. Perhaps, I was.

But, I think deep down....we can all relate at times to the feeling of being homeless. Lonely. Outcast. Forgotten. Left out. Misfit. Longing for home.

There's no need for show when you are around the homeless. No need for prettying up, or shining your shoes. You can be yourself and fit right in with the homeless. Perhaps that's why I like it.

I imagine this is how the Disciples felt around Jesus. They could be themselves. Jesus loved them anyway. They could take off their masks and fall to His feet breathing a sigh of relief. They knew Jesus loved them despite their countless flaws.

As I read the book of Matthew, again...

I imagine how Jesus must have longed for His Heavenly home.

This Earth was not His home.

Nor, is it ours.

There will be a day...

Oh, one sweet day...

When we can rest our weary heads in the Mansion of our Father.

We will fit in. All of us.

No one will be homeless. No one will be lonely. No one will be cast out.

There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2


come as you are,


jill


























Dec 4, 2017

Hello Matthew...


All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23

Every December, I read through the book of Matthew again. Slowly. Taking it all in.

From the birth of Jesus,  to the death of Jesus on the Cross.

I soak in the words. The story. The miracles.

So often, I get entangled with "religion" and "religious jargon", that I forget the simplicity of The Gospel. The simplicity of Jesus.

I make everything so complex with my over analyzing and over thinking every little thing. I ponder, I judge, I point out the speck in another's eye--as I have a log in my own eye.

Matthew brings me back down.

Back down to a lowly stable. In a deserted place. In a dingy and dirty manger.

Back to The Savior of the world.

Jesus.

As I read through Matthew Chapter One, I studied the genealogy of Jesus. The 14 generations from Abraham to David. The 14 generations from David to the exile of Babylon, and the 14 generations from the exile to the Messiah.

The names in that genealogy.

The imperfect people that led to a perfect Savior.

Only God.

I am relieved as I read the names. My heart floods with joy.

I see names of people who messed up. Over an over.

I see a prostitute's name.

I see an adulter's name.

I see a murderer's name.

You don't know how badly I needed to read this today.

My mouth got away from me yesterday. Again.

Just when I have been reading the book of James with my prayer group, and learning about the evils of the tongue.

Yep.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6

I can vouch for this truth. My tongue was on fire yesterday. Just ask my husband.

Why is it that my tongue usually gets set on fire before church? Huh?

It was so bad that my daughter asked me, "Do you even like Dad?'

I hesitated.

No, just kidding.

I told her I did like him. Sometimes.

But sometimes I didn't.

But, I still loved him.

Still not sure if that was the correct answer to give. But, hey, I am trying.

I do like him. I do.

But, yesterday, I didn't. Ok?

Ok.

So, of course the pastor preaches on the miracle of forgiveness.

Half way through the sermon, I leaned over and whispered to my husband, "I forgive you."

He choked back a laugh.

I was serious.

He didn't see things my way, so I was forgiving him.

He leaned back over and said, "No, sweetie, I forgive YOU."

I rolled my eyes at him and asked God to forgive me for not liking my husband that day. Especially while sitting in church. [eye roll]

We got back home and I was busy picking up things off of the floor, putting up dishes, and just doing my little chores when I remembered something.

I remembered how flawed I was. I remembered how dirty I was. I remember how unclean I was.

I remembered that I would not always get it right. I would have times of failure and fall into sin with my mouth...again.

The Lord reminded me of my posture  when this happens. I hit my knees. I draw near to Him and beg Him for His Love, His Mercy, His Grace. I just cannot muster up this kind of living.

I can only get it from Him.

My kids may see me spout off from time to time at my sweet husband, and I will roll around in regret for a day or two.

But, what do they see after? Do they see a heart of repentance or a heart of rebellion?

I hope it is repentance.

That's what I see as I read these names in Matthew.

Yes, they were not perfect people.

Yes, they were majorly flawed.

Yes, they did not always get it right.

But....

These generations of sinful mistakes....

Brought forth the Son of God.

How would we know we needed a Savior unless we needed saving?

Oh, y'all. I need a Savior.

I need Jesus.

I crave Him.

My flesh wants to run away with sin--especially my mouth.

But, my soul longs for Jesus.

His Power is made Perfect in our weakness. [2 Corinthians 12:9]

God longs to bring forth fruit from even our most heinous sins.

Yet, we often cower and hover in a corner licking our sinful wounds.

We forget....

We forget of His Simplicity. His Peace. His Mercy. His Covering.

His love covers our sins. Not just covers them, but washes them away.

Make room for Him. Invite Him in to even the fleshiest parts of your day.

Fall to your knees and draw near when you mess up...again.

He will always be there to catch you.

still taming my tongue,


jill















Nov 27, 2017

Before you shop....

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

Today is Cyber Monday.

Online shopping will be crazy today. Deals, low prices, and sales.

Today begins the mad rush before Christmas giving.

Well, actually, Friday began the mad rush. Possibly even Thursday....for some of us.

Listen here, though.

Lean in close...

Don't get sucked into the world's version of christmas. [yes, with a lower case c]

The world will never celebrate Christ. The world's version of Christmas will fill us with debt, overspending, indulgence, guilt, regret.

Since when did we make Christmas into something other than Holy?

Since when did the size of our checking accounts determine the size of our "merry" at Christmas?'

Yes, giving is a part of Christmas.

But, not when it becomes a debt we cannot afford to pay.

A debt that takes our eyes off of Christ, and on anxiety and worry over bill paying.

Let's determine to be a joy to be around this Christmas instead of a big spender.

Let's determine to love those around us by being present, instead of feeling the need to buy an overabundance of presents we cannot afford.

Let's determine to show Jesus in how we love instead of how much we spend.

Let's determine to be still. To rest in Christ. To rest in contentment.

Joy is contagious.

Joy does not come from the world, but from Jesus.

Joy saturates our hearts when we seek to celebrate Jesus instead of the world's artificial form of Christmas.

Let's make our lists...

But, let's include the gifts that only come from Jesus..

Love, JOY, Gentleness, Patience, Self-control, Peace, Forgiveness.

Let's let it be our mission to represent Christ this Christmas. Not in how much we spend, but in how much we love.

For ever dollar we spend on gifts, let's spend an hour with a loved one. Being present. Listening. Looking them in their precious eyes.

Inhale the Joy of Jesus this Christmas.

Exhale anything that is NOT.

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that don't cost a penny.

joy finding,


jill







Nov 9, 2017

Shut my mouth....

How do I even begin? I am not even sure when it started.

It is so much easier to tell stories of my kids, or loved ones. The stories about what God is doing in my heart are harder to tell. They go deep into the crevices of my soul and often I have a hard time putting the experiences into words.

Alas, I will try.

A few months ago I felt the gentle pull of the Lord away from things that I enjoyed doing. Really good things.

I didn't understand it and even felt selfish for pulling away. I felt a lack of peace regarding things that I had so peacefully enjoyed before.

I questioned my heart. I questioned God's leading. Or was it God's leading?

At the time, I didn't know for sure. I just knew that I didn't feel the ease of peace.

It didn't make sense. I felt I had grown a lot in the past year and had much to share regarding experiences. I wanted to surround myself with people to be able to share what my heart was overflowing with.

But, the Lord asked me to stop. To be still. To be quiet.

Uh, what?

It was an odd thing. Aren't we supposed to live out loud our faith? Aren't we supposed to go out and make disciples?

I was confused. But, I knew that God was not the author of confusion, but of Peace. [1 Corinthians 14:33]

My mouth suddenly felt like it was taped shut. I felt the pull to be quiet, and to pray. And pray. And pray.

My fingers didn't even feel the pull to write. I had no idea what was happening in my heart, so I had nothing to write about. I had plenty of stories to tell, but my heart was drawn like a magnet to quietness and prayer.

I began to discipline myself in prayer. Prayer does not come easy. It just doesn't. It often feels pointless if I am being honest.

We are more prone to "do", and  to "talk" it out.

Or, at least I am.

I would discipline myself in prayer by making it a practice to pray over every single person I came into contact each day. EVERY one.

This led little time for me to talk about myself, or to talk about anything really.

It also led to a lot of listening.

Listening to my children more.

Listening to my husband more.

Listening to the lady that rings up my groceries every Monday morning.

We learn a lot by listening. A whole lot.

I can pray as I listen. It's much easier to do this than pray as I talk.

I thought so much about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, how the Bible said, "she pondered all these things in her heart."[Luke 2:19]

As I listened more intently to the spoken and the unspoken cues of people, I began to feel the deep pull for them to feel the warmth of Jesus. Without me saying a word.

This is hard for a wordy girl.

I mean, how would they know I was praying for them unless I told them? How would they know about all the great things Jesus was doing if I didn't tell them?

Oh, I shudder as I type.

It was all about me. Me, me, me, me.

Did I not think that God could speak to them apart from me?

I liked the feeling of leading someone to Christ. To pointing the way and being the "one" with scripture at the perfect time.

Oh, y'all...

God was [and is] working on my heart.

I began to see the working of God all around me as I sat back, listened more, talked less, and prayed more.

Recently, the most incredible thing happened.

I had been praying for a young mother that I see each week. Every day I would see her, I felt the urge to pray for her. I felt she had lost her way somehow and needed Jesus.  This lasted for several weeks.

Last week, she approached my friend and me. She asked my friend about what church she attended. My friend proceeded to tell her, and then an entire conversation pursued, between the two of them, about faith.

I sat there dumbfounded. And, like a third wheel.

I wanted to jump in so badly and say, "Hey!! Let ME talk to to you! Come and visit MY church! I have what you need! I have been praying for you!!"

So embarrassing to admit my true thoughts.

They continued in conversation, and I quietly walked away.

"God, what are you doing? I have been praying for her! Why did you use my friend to talk to her and not me?"

Slowly, my vision became focused. I saw so clear what God was doing in my heart.

Did it matter who led her to Christ? Did it matter which church she attended?

What mattered is that God heard my prayers, and He answered them.

And guess what? I got no credit. From anyone. NOT ONE PERSON.

But, God knew.

Was that not enough for me?

Oh, the pride. Oh, the stinking pride.

Are we willing to go behind closed doors, to be anonymous....and seek the face of God on behalf of those around us? Are we willing to step back and let God get the Glory?

Or, are we getting in His way. Is our pride keeping Him from answering our prayers.

Are our mouths bigger than our ears? Do we talk more than we listen?

Lord, change us.

Let us be willing to have hearts on fire with prayer, without one person knowing it.

There is a time to pray out loud, and a time to pray in secret.

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. Matthew 6:6

How quickly we say YES when asked if we will pray about something for someone. And, just as quickly we forget.

Are we so busy portraying our wisdom and Christianity that we forget what is needed most?

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

So often, in church and in the world, we are urged to be vocal. To let our intentions and our desires be known. To speak!

Could it be that our loud words are getting in the way of the gentle whispers of God?

In all of our efforts to be great missionaries, are our mouths drowning out our prayers and hushing the Holy Spirit?

Oh, Lord, change us.

Is it possible to lead obscure, quiet, prayerful lives?

Jesus sure did.

He made no commotion about Himself. He often was drawn to quiet places. Seeking the face of God. Often when everyone else was sleeping.

Lord, help us to be like Jesus.

Hearts bent on You and not ourselves.

Help us to be okay with not being in the spotlight. To live obscure lives. In Your Mighty Shadow.


shutting my mouth and opening my ears,


jill












Oct 24, 2017

Overcommitted....

Subscribe to SHINE by email: Here. 
SHINE Reading Plan: Here. 
Follow us on Instagram: @shinegirlsshine


Yesterday I was in Walmart and ran into a precious friend.

We chatted for about 2 seconds and her eyes welled up with tears. She suddenly lost her voice as the tears came pouring down her cheeks.

She leaned over to hug me.

I had no idea what was wrong except that my dear friend was hurting and seemed to need a big fat hug.

When she could speak clearly without tear lumps in her throat, she began to tell me how her life was just overwhelming.

She had recently bit off way more than she could do in this season of her life.

My heart immediately knew that feeling.

The feeling of nausea. Another day. Another commitment.

The feeling of the walls closing in on you because of a deadline and people's expectations.

The feeling of feeling like a failure as a wife, as a mom, as a friend, as a volunteer...

Because it was all just.....too much.

Oh, how I knew.

I clumsily recited the verse, "let your yes be yes, and your no be no."  Matthew 5:37.

I reminded her that saying no is not a bad thing, in fact it leads to the better things that God has for us.

Her words to follow I will not soon forget...

She said, "Just because I can do something...doesn't mean I should, right?"
Right.

That was it.

She knew the answer to her dilemma.

It was implementing it that would be the hard part.

Raise your hand if you have been in this place?

Now, raise your hand if you LIVE in this place?

Ok, so I can't see you, but I bet you have your hand up.

Why do we do this? Why do we overcommit?

I think of Jesus and all He had to do. People pulling at Him from every direction

He had one goal. One focus.

The will of His Father.

Jesus often stopped...and prayed.

He got up early so that He knew exactly where His feet needed to walk that day. He needed directions from His Father.

Oh, y'all.

Why can't we stop, pause, and ask for directions?

How about the next time something is asked of us, we stop, pause, and pray about it.

I have seen the faces of my children when I overcommit. I have seen the annoyance on my husband's face when I spread myself too thin and neglect my duties at home. When I choose to not let someone down and commit to something I have not prayed about, something or someone will always suffer.

Usually, it is our families.

This world has made us believe that we do not have an identity unless we are involved in EVERYTHING. We must go to every function, every bible study, every party, every event, every whatever....

Maybe we are afraid of being forgotten?

We want to prove to others and ourselves that we can do it all. With a cute lipglossy smile on our lips.

Meanwhile, our hearts are shattered with guilt and regret of saying "yes" once again.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.. Ecclesiastes 3:1

For each and every season of life there is a purpose. Let's ask the Father for our purpose here and now. Let's be present and not spread ourselves so thin that we miss the season we are in.

There will be someone else that can help. Or fill in. Or volunteer. Or take the position.

In fact, if we do things that are out of our assigned place, we deprive someone else of the opportunity to fill that spot.

We don't have to be overcommitted.

We can stop, pause, and ask God for directions.

The seasons will be fuller, more enjoyable if we do this. We will soak in the joy of each opportunity, knowing that this is our assignment for such a time.

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


over being over committed,

jill















Oct 19, 2017

There goes my heart.....

Subscribe to SHINE by email: Here. 
SHINE Reading Plan: Here. 
Follow us on Instagram: @shinegirlsshine

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...

Subscribe to SHINE by email: Here. SHINE Reading Plan: Here. 
Follow us on Instagram: @shinegirlsshine

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....

Subscribe to SHINE by email: Here. 
Prayer Requests Page:
 Here.
SHINE Reading Plan: Here. 

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