May 30, 2017

Our kids are thirsty....

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:3

Finally, it happened. We got new grass. We also planted some  trees and bushes to liven up our landscape somewhat. Remember the story about the weeds? Yeah, well we still have plenty of those too.

The first week our yard was complete I spent every single day watering bushes and trees. Twice a day. Sometimes three times if it was a really hot and dry day.

Never in my life have I watered anything outside. Ever.

I was more of an inside work girl. Until now. [eye roll]

Day after day I stood over those bushes and trees watering. Watering. Watering.

It was incredibly boring. And long. It usually takes about 45 minutes to hit them all. [Yawn]

However, God gave me an insight as I was watering those newly planted trees one day.

He reminded me of why I was watering them.

I was watering them because they were dependent on me for nourishment.

I was watering them because they were young and tender and new.

I was watering them because I wanted them to be strong and not wither under the hot sun.

I was watering them because I wanted to sit under those trees one day and be refreshed by their beauty and stature.

In that moment, as I was pouring fresh water on my baby trees, I pictured my children.

My job is to water them. Daily.

My job as their mother is to soak them in the Word of God while I still can. While their roots are forming and deepening.

Just like watering those plants, it has to be consistent. I cannot just water my kids when I see them starting to wilt. I must water them to keep them from wilting.

The hardest part of watering these plants is not seeing much fruit at first. They look the same day after day.

But, I know that just because I don't see growth and nourishment....it is happening.

Just like with my children.

I don't always see a lot of growth. In fact, I can get downright discouraged and want to throw my tired arms up in the air and give up.

But, then I remember....

I must keep watering them.

My job is to water...

God's job is grow them.

I don't know how my children will turn out in the end.

I pray daily they will be strong men and women of God.

However, God has the ultimate job. He grows the heart. He also decides how tall they will grow, and what kind of fruit they will produce.

I cannot hover over an apple tree and make it produce peaches. I just cannot.

God decides what comes from the plant...

We just water.

Daily.

The best way to water our children is by prayer.

Another way to water our children is by reading the Word over them. Teaching them in daily instruction about God.

They will get tired of your stories. Trust me. But, their hearts are like sponges. They will drink in the water even if you don't think they are thirsty.

Standing over my children and being anxious of how they are turning out will not produce a better fruit. It will only drive me crazy and my kids too.

But, I know if I just do the job of watering...

God will be the one that allows the growth when I step away.

I don't have to hover over those trees to make them grow. I just have to be consistent with them. Giving them fresh water and trusting God with the rest.

My prayer is that He will send others to water my children when I cannot be there. Pouring water into their thirsty hearts, sprinkling  them with Truth.

[Thank you, Lord, for those that water our children! Teachers, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, youth leaders...praise God for them!]

My prayer is to one day sit back and look at those trees that were watered so fervently and remember fondly the long, hot days of watering them. I hope those trees will be tall, statuesque, strong-rooted, and reaching high towards Heaven.

I pray those trees will bless many from generation to generation. Bringing refreshment and joy to all that sit under their broad branches.

I pray those same deep roots and broad branches for my children. May their lives bear much fruit and extend from generation to generation.



time to water,

jill









May 26, 2017

Today....

Hi. Me again.

Well, there are three things that I turn to when I am emotional. Exercise, food, and writing.

I just finished an hour walk so the exercise box is checked.

And, since I a currently doing a 30 day detox [i.e. living H.E.L.L.], the only food I can turn to is healthy whole foods. Umm, no thanks.

So, I made a 3rd cup of coffee instead.

On to my third emotional release...writing.

Today is my kids last day of school for this year.

Joseph finished 10th grade.

Presley finished 6th grade.

Really, all week I have been so "together". I think with all of my focus on this detox I haven't had the emotional energy to cry.

Until today,

I know, I know. I just wrote about finding joy and having intentional joy a few days ago.

Here's the thing: I do have joy. But, I can also have some emotions at times. [i.e. tears flooding my face like Niagara falls]

The end of anything makes me sad.

The end of a vacation. The end of a book. The end of a movie.

I don't like endings.

As I took my therapy walk this morning, I held back tears behind my big fat round sunglasses. My nose was dripping, but I had no tissues. I just let it drip.

On my walk, I did a lot of praying. A lot of talking to Jesus.

At first, I wasn't sure what to say. I was just sad. I just didn't have words. And I told Him so.

Five minutes into my walk, I heard this scripture in my head:

1 Thessalonians 5:18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

It was like God had flipped a switch in my heart.

I was missing something huge in all of this.

I had not thanked Him at all.

I had not thanked Him for my children. And that they were growing and changing.

I had not thanked Him for another sweet year of cherished memories and adventures.

I had not thanked Him that my children were able to pass their classes and move on to the next grade.

I had not thanked Him for anything.

Only complained about my sad heart.

For the next 45 minutes or so on my walk, I spilled out my heart to Him in thankfulness. I even laughed at some of the things I thanked Him for. I was giddy with thankfulness!

In an instant, my heart was lighter. Suddenly I noticed the sky. I noticed the crisp little breeze in the May air. I noticed two birds frolicking right next to me. I noticed a nursing cat and her 4 newborn kittens next to a house I walked by.

Life suddenly seemed sweeter.

I had been so worried about ending and change. All along God has been telling me to "look around, soak up what I am giving you. Be thankful. It will change you."

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8

This scripture has never rang more true in my ears.

I had been focused on all of the wrong things, and it was making me miserable.

Oh, friend. If endings or change is hard for you too, I can relate. Oh so well.

But, I promise you with my whole heart that changing your mind-set to thankfulness will change your attitude and perspective.

If you are living and breathing air, you have something to be thankful for. I think the truest enemy to our well-being and contentment is a lack of thankfulness.

Thankfulness sets our hearts free.

Thankfulness brings contentment.

Thankfulness brings joy.

I am committed to praying for all of you today. Your hearts, your children, your families...

May He flood you with such joy!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1


giving thanks,

jill

Presley's last day of 6th grade

Joseph's last day of 10th grade






May 24, 2017

He goes before you...

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Another school year almost in the books. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would not be a soggy mess this week, I would have laughed in your cute little face.

I have found it to be true that God prepares us for what is ahead. He prepares our hearts for what is to come.

He goes before us. He hems us in, before and behind.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

How comforting to this momma's heart.

The more time that passes, the more I lean into Him and trust Him. I trust Him with my future, and the futures of my children.

I trust Him, because I look back and see a road of faithfulness behind me. I see His Hand in so many details of my life and in the lives of my children.

This is not to say that the way has not been very, very hard at times. Rocky and hard.

But, He has always been there. Preparing the way. Carrying us at times when needed.

Nothing takes God by surprise. Nothing.

Not hard times, not change, not grief, not death, not loss....

He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

If God loves us so much that He knitted us together in our mother's wombs, don't you know all of our details are knitted with the same precision?

All our days, all of our moments. He has ordained them.

He sets our times and destinations.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
Acts 17:26


Rest your sweet head on that. He knows exactly where you are and where you will be. For the rest of your precious days.

Oh, how He loves you,

jill




I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy.....

[original post date 5/23/14]

This week is always emotional.

The end of a lot of things.

The end of another school year for my kids. The end of having great teachers that teach them.

For some of you, it may be the end of elementary school for your children. The end of middle school for others. The end of high school. The end of college.

Or, the beginning of an empty nest. {oh, I am praying for your hearts as I type this!}

Two years ago, you would find me on the floor, in a puddle, crying my pitiful eyes out.

I don't like change. Let me repeat, I don't like change.

However, last year, God helped me turn the corner with all of this.

This is the verse He gave me:

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."
Proverbs 31:25

Sounds so simple, right?

That is because it is simple!

God showed me last year that I could cry my eyes and out mope around all day.....

Or I can LAUGH and have JOY in weeks like this.

What was I teaching my children being so mopey and pitiful? Absolutely nothing.

Last year at this very time, we celebrated every single day of that last week of school.

This year, we did the same.

Small little gifts for them after school, later bedtimes, their favorite dinners....anything to lighten the mood in this house. (lighten MY mood, that is)

Our Wednesday Surprise...
silly masks!
God showed me that life is about change. Time will not stop until we are with Him in Heaven.

Each tick of the clock, draws us closer to Heaven.

Now that is something to celebrate!

Are you anxious about change? Are you fearful of the future?

Can I just encourage you today?

I want to tell you to laugh at the days to come! Find JOY in these moments!

Yes, they are fleeting, so even the more reason to celebrate them!

We have to be intentional about choosing Joy, sweet friends. It will not always come naturally.

We MUST choose to live in Joy.

We MUST choose to walk in it each day.

I want my children to remember the times we celebrated together. I want them to have warm memories of smiles, laughter, and joy! Not a momma moping around with her chin on the floor.

 
"The hope of the righteous brings joy"
Proverbs 10:28



Today, they will come home from school with one last fun surprise awaiting them.

Today, I will celebrate change instead of mourning it.

Our  challenge:

Celebrate life today! Surprise someone today! Go to the dollar store for your kids, buy your hubby his favorite magazine, pick some pretty flowers to leave on a friend's doorstep, leave a kind note on someone's windshield...

Celebrate!!


finding my joy,


jill

May 15, 2017

Where I'm at.....

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Really, I thought I would be in a different place in this season of my life. I had it all figured out.

I was going to be writing devotionals for Lifeway [ahem, ok, don't laugh], and I would be blogging daily.

Well, both of those things are not happening.

My kids are growing older, and, well, I am too.

5 years ago I longed for this day to be able to write as much as I wanted to! To be able to just sit at the Lord's feet day in and day out soaking up His Wisdom as I sip on my vanilla latte.

Oh, the naivety  of a middle aged woman with a big dreaming heart.

I never dreamed that in this season of my life I would actually have less time to write. Less time to just sit and sip at the feet of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely sit with Jesus. Just not all day long like I had imagined.

I just knew I would be blogging daily. Pouring out wisdom from my fingertips. [please try not to spew your coffee laughing].

The more time that goes by, the quieter I become.

I am learning to listen instead of talk.

I am learning that being less means gaining more of Him.

Instead of racking my brain for stories to write, I find myself living out my stories instead of typing them out.

This is so contrary to the life I had imagined.

I do not have life figured out. Or parenting. Or marriage. Or anything really.

But, I do have one thing down...

I need Jesus daily.

In every decision.

In every moment.

In every second.

I am learning that the world has a lot to say and so do many well-meaning people.

But, what is God saying to me? That is what I want to know.

That is the true desire of my heart.

I used to look for parenting examples--hard and fast rules to produce good kids.

Now, I see that He will guide me if I listen. If I search for Him in my days. If I read His words and obey His commands. He will show me the path for our family.

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

There are many people that want to tell us how to raise perfect kids, be the perfect family, be the perfect momma...

We need to hear what God has to say regarding our family.j

He knitted us together...He knows every detail of His purpose and His plans for us.

We can be encouraged by parenting examples, but we must not make them rigid laws and rules for our family. [and we must not judge others that are not doing the same thing we are]

If we listen, if we turn our hearts and our ears to the Lord....

We will hear His gentle whisper.

One of my favorite chapters in the bible comes from 1 Kings. God tells Elijah to prepare for His presence to pass by. [can you imagine??!!]


1 Kings 19:11-13

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Did you catch that? God wasn't in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire...

He was in a gentle whisper.

I think many times in my desperate need to be heard or seen...I have missed what the Lord is telling me.

I think if I am loud enough, or wise enough, or on display enough....then I will be doing God a favor. Because surely He wants me to let everyone know exactly what I think, or what I would do, or what I am doing. Right?

Perhaps our lives can speak loud without us saying a word.

Maybe.....

He just wants me to look up. To listen. To be still. To be quiet.

Could it be that I may miss out on His whisper for trying to shout to the world?

Or, for listening to the shouts of the world.

I have done both.

The more years that go by in my parenting [and in life], the more I realize I still have so much to learn. Oh so much.

Being present in these parenting moments can be challenging in a world that is loud. And alluring. So many choices. So many ways. So many!

Surely Elijah thought God was in that powerful wind, or earthquake, or fire...

Maybe God is in the minutia of our life-so entrenched in the daily details of our days- that we often miss Him.

Maybe we are busy  looking for God in big revelations and mighty displays....

When He is there in the smallest and most overlooked moments of our days.

Maybe one day I will write more often. Tell more stories.

But for this season, you will find me listening. Because I so desperately want to hear His voice above all the others.



leaning in,



jill




May 2, 2017

Fear Not...

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

For the past 15 years, I have been a Mother. Besides my marriage, it has been the absolute greatest season of my life. However, it has also been the hardest.

We all wish that we could have a "re-do" button on some of our not-so-great moments in motherhood. I have many.

However, as I gain the status of getting to be an "older mother", with preteen and teenage children, I have learned a few things along the way. My role of mothering is constantly changing with my children.

First, let me get it out there...I do not like change.

Ok, I said it. I hate change.

But, change is necessary if we are living and breathing. So, we have to deal with it.

As my children started to become more independent I grew fearful. How would they survive without me? How will they know what to do? Who will keep them safe if I am not with them?

Typical mothering thoughts, right?

This is where our faith has to become a reality in our lives.

I have to turn loose of my grip on my children, and turn them over to the Lord.

Of course, this is so much easier said than done.

For years, I didn't really believe or trust that God would take care of my kids like I could. I doubted His love and protection over them.

So, I clung tighter. And tighter.

Fear can make a mother crazy.

Just ask my husband. [poor hubby]

My mind would go over scenarios in my head of horrible things happening to them. I would re-enact tragedies in my mind and literally start to shake with panic.

I was a mad woman. Getting madder by the minute.

How could I ever survive my children reaching adulthood with these constant paralyzing, fear inducing thoughts?

It was torture.

The enemy was dead set against using motherhood and fear in perfect combination to smolder any chance of faith-filled mothering that I had.

Something had to give.

I remember driving home form dropping my kids off at school one day. I had tears streaming down my face. I was picturing something happening to them and not being able to reach them.

I cried out to God to help me. I asked Him to release me from the fear that was overwhelming my soul to the point of exhaustion and consumption.

Minutes later, this scripture came to my heart and mind...sent straight from the Lord...

"Fear not, for I am with you..." [Isaiah 41:10]

In that moment, I relinquished my heart and my children over to the Lord. I told him through wet tears that I trusted Him with my children. He created them. He knitted them together in my womb. Certainly I could trust Him.

I knew in that instant, that no matter what happened, they belonged to Him.

"Fear not" were the first words that God spoke to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He has been whispering the same words to us mothers ever since.

Fear causes us to be controlling. [check]

Fear causes us to be rigid and immoveable. [check]

Fear will override our faith if we let it. [check]

God never told Mary that He would keep Jesus in a bubble and nothing bad would ever happen to Him...

But, He assured Mary that Jesus belonged to Him and He would direct Jesus' path.

As mothers, we have to believe this is true over our children as well.

Mary sat at the foot of the Cross of her Son being crucified. She saw suffering and horror. Yet, she had the assurance that God had a plan. His plan was for the greater good. His plan was not her plan, yet she trusted God.

I want this kind of faith.

And, it is possible.

"Anything is possible for one who believes." [Mark 9:23]

Believe Him in the hard times.

Believe Him in the lean times.

Believe Him in the fruitful times.

Believe Him the grieving times.

Believe Him in the dark times.

Believe Him in all times.

"Perfect love casts out fear.." [1 John 4:18]

We become the mother He has created us to be when we mother out of faith instead of fear. Our times with our children become more joyful and less stressful when we can commit our children to  His loving care. Our children will be influenced by our faith instead of suffocated by our fear.

Fear not, sweet Mothers.


trusting Him,


jill