Aug 30, 2017

Oh brother....


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

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

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

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

Here's the thing about James though..

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

Yet, he didn't believe.

Can you relate? Oh, I can.

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

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

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

This year began with an awakening of my soul.

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

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

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

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

Robert, the homeless man, opened my eyes.

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

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

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

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

When we lose everything, we gain everything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James tells us this:

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


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

Faith leads to action. Every single time.

What is the Lord asking you to do?

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

I know it's hard.

So hard.

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

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

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

His wealth is different than what we consider wealth.

May we do well with what He has given us.


wrecked,

jill






Aug 29, 2017

Give it away...

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

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

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

I have so much stuff.

Stuff. Stuff. Stuff.

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

Guilt racked me.

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

Always wanting more, more, more.

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


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

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

If you live in this country, you are wealthy.

If you are reading this email, you are wealthy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poverty of spirit.

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

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

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

I too am guilty.

Guilty of too much.

Too much stuff.

Too much of desiring more.

When will it end? This crazy cycle of consumption.

What will we do?

Give. Give. Give.

And give some more.

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

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


Who and what do we trust in?

Our possessions? Our wealth?

Or, in Jesus.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34

Give it away, friends.

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

still purging,

jill











Aug 22, 2017

I am poor....

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



Dear Sam,

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

I have.

It happened this past Sunday when we met.

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

Or so we thought.

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

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

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

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

How could you know?

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

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

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

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

Poverty.

Poverty of soul.

Poverty of resources.

Poverty of talent.

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

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

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

But, I was filled.

You filled me with your love.

Your concern.

Your listening ear.

Your kindness.

Your gentleness.

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

How did you know?

See, I want to have what you have.

I want to be in your skin.

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

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

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

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

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

You breathed Jesus all over me that day.

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

Your hands were empty, yet they gave.

Everything, they gave me that day.

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

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

I want what you have.

Thank you, Sam.

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


holding out my empty hands,

jill







Aug 16, 2017

Lord Help...

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

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

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

However, none of this takes God by surprise.

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

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

The first line, and the last line.

Peace.

Peace that God is in control.

Peace that He sits on the Throne.

Peace that He will reconcile all things.

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

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

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

I pray instead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will we teach them?

What will they remember about us?

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

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

Oh, Lord, let it be prayer.

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

Our children need to see us praying.

Not just in desperate times, but at all times.

We must teach them.

Who else will?


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


help us, Lord.

jill





Aug 15, 2017

Hopelessly Devoted....

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

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

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

Reading scripture is like that. 

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

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


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

These are all good things. 

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

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

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

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

We begin  to have His eyes to see. 

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

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

Pray. Watch. Give thanks. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pray. Watch. Give thanks, 

jill










Aug 14, 2017

Oops I did it again....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohhhh.

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

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

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

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

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

This momma rolls around in repentance quite often these days.

Last week was a doozie at our house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone?

Buehler?

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






I felt awful afterwards.

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

Why do I let this happen? WHY?

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

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

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

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

Kill. Me. Now.

Why do I forget how horrible sin feels?

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

I don't know.

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

Despite my sin...

He comforted me, just like the verse says.

He pulled me close.

He forgave me.

He loved me.

He loves me still.

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

Can we love like this?

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

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

Can I love those around me that have hurt me?

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

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

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

Yes, Yes! A thousand times yes!

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

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

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

Jesus will comfort us when we repent.

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

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

He covers us.

He comforts us.

He loves us, anyway.

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

Pointing them to the Comforter.

Lord, we repent.


washing my mouth out with soap,


jill









Aug 13, 2017

Pardon the Interruption...

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


I am just downright giddy.

Want to know why?

Ok, I will tell you anyway.

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

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

Are you as excited as me????

Ok, well pretend you are.

So, here is the new thing..

I have added the prayer page back.

Prayer is so important, as you know.

We need a place to gather and pray.

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

What do you say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come, let us pray together,


jill



Aug 12, 2017

Pity Party Please....

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

Good morning. What a week. Whew.

Since writing is therapy to me, here goes.

God is good.

God is good.

God is good.

God is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ever been there?

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

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

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

I gave in and spilled my heart to them.

Then, immediately regretted being so vulnerable.

But, the sweetest thing happened afterwards...

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

How could this be?

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

But, not this time.

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

My oldest said something wise.

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes God uses people. Many times God uses people.

This time, He used my own kids.

God is good.

God is good.

God is good.



kids are a gift,

jill


Aug 8, 2017

Walk the walk....

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


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

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

Like, this morning.

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

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

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

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

Why did she have to be rude? Why??

My day was doing just fine without her snarky gesture.

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

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

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

Little did I know the lesson would be coming soon.

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

Seriously though.

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

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

They sting our flesh. Our pride gets bumped into.

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

Yet, are we practicing what we preach?

I know I haven't at times.

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

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

Like, really. Do we walk the walk?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who are we when no one is looking?

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

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

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

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

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


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


walk over talk,


jill                  












Aug 6, 2017

How can it be.....

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This past weekend my oldest child turned 16.

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

Then, they grow older and taller and bigger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growth is good.

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

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

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

Growing up is not so bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


still growing,

jill











Aug 3, 2017

Your Greatest Assignment....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girls, He has assigned us this life.

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

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

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

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

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

Who are we to argue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really, there is no better way.

He has given us an assignment.

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

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

Security. Who doesn't want some of that?

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


resting in my assignment,


jill

[original post 7/16/14]

Aug 1, 2017

Puppy Love....

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is so innocent.

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

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

When did I lose that joy?

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

Why don't I notice those things anymore?

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

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

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

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

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

The news makes me anxious. And hopeless at times.

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

Bo sees what God sees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a remedy.

Gratitude.

Humility.

Forgiveness.

Praise.

But, here is the thing...

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

It will not just happen.

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

To see.

To see the good.

To see the lovely.

To see the hope over the despair.

To forgive.

To praise.

It really is a choice.

What will you choose today?

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


thank you Bo,

jill