Sep 12, 2018

Hey you....

Hey you.

I know how you feel. I know the questions. I know the doubts.

I have been there. So many times.

You wonder if it will ever work out. You wonder if doing the "right" thing will actually pay off.

You wonder if this is just all for nothing. You wonder if this is some kind of cruel joke...this Christian walk.

I get it.

Oh, do I get it.

I have journals and journals of these thoughts. These doubts. These questions.

Why is being good so hard?

Why does it seem like those that choose wrong paths actually come out better sometimes?

Why does it seem like you will always be the one at the wishing well instead of the dance?

What good is it to pray and fast, and believe, and repeat that sequence only to have nothing happen. Zilch. Nada.

Why does it seem like everyone gets what they want so easily, while you sit with hands held out grasping air?

Your story is not over.

Let me say that again, your story is not over.

When these thoughts run rampant through my mind, I have to go back.....and remember.

I have to grab my Bible and read about Noah, and David, and Ruth, and Esther, and Abraham, and Moses, and Paul, and Peter, and....

Jesus.

No one escapes suffering. No one escapes loss. No one escapes heartbreak. No one escapes pain.

Yet...

Few find the fruit of those things.

They give up too easily.

They walk away from God.

They walk away from church.

They walk away from good.

Because....it's just not working.

Oh, but what if Joseph would have walked away? What if he would have burned with hatred for his brothers and spent his life trying to find revenge?

What if Noah would have given into the peer pressure and the nay sayers and not built the Ark?

What if David would have given up his pursuit to rise above King Saul's hatred and jealousy and take matters into his own hands?

What if Ruth had turned from God and her mother in law out of her deep grief and loss of her husband and not stayed with Naomi?

What if Moses had not gone to Egypt and approached Pharaoh?

What if Jesus would have turned back around from that walk to the Cross?

NONE of these people wanted to do these things. None of these people felt equipped to do what God was asking.

NONE of them could have ever imagined what the outcome of their obedience would be. Not one.

But....

What if they had given up.

What if they thought it was just too hard.

What if they turned their back and hearts from God.

Your story is still well under way.

Do. Not. Lose. Hope.

Do. Not. Lose. Faith.

Do. Not. Stop. Doing. The. Right. Thing.

Your time will come.

When you least expect it.

You will see the fruit.

You will experience the bounty.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9


not giving up, 


jill

Aug 31, 2018

Dear Annie Ruth.....

Dear Annie Ruth,

I remember the first time I saw you. You were buying a coffee at the local coffee shop. I was right behind you. It was a Friday morning.

I was meeting up with my prayer girls. We meet there every Friday to talk, read God's Word, and pray.

You had the biggest smile on your face as you were talking with the lady at the register. You turned around and just gave me the biggest welcoming warm smile.

I knew immediately that you were a Jesus girl. I could see it a mile away. Your face was literally shining. Psalm 34:5 came to my mind, "Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed."

We began chatting. Somehow or another I invited you to come to our little prayer group table.

Our group has not been the same since.

You shared your story. Addiction, divorce, fornication, homelessness.....decades of it.

You told us that you fell to your knees on a concrete ground and asked God to heal you.

And, He did.

Annie, I wasn't sure what to think of you at first. You were so bold. And loud. And you talked so much.  We never could get a word in. You talked and talked and talked.

For a while, I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do to ask you to join our group. You made us all feel uncomfortable.

Your words pierced us.

They still do.

You prayed loud and made us stand up and hold hands to pray, because you said, "God always stands up for us."

You challenged me, Annie.

You opened my eyes to something that I did not even know I needed.

Your words resonate with me. They are not your words, they are God's Words.

They literally slice me.

I began to see something about you. Something I saw all along, but I could not quite understand at first.

You remind me of Jesus.

Jesus made everyone uncomfortable. Jesus spoke Truth. Not just pretty words.

He revealed the inner workings of the Pharisees hearts....He called them "white washed tombs."

Oh, Annie. How could you know that we needed you?

You tell us that we are your only friends. You tell us that everyone else says that you talk too much.

Well, it's true. You do.

But, Annie, we need your words. We need your stories. The world needs your words. The world needs your stories.

You speak Jesus.

You speak what you have read, and lived, and what you believe with all of your heart.

You have challenged my faith in ways that I never knew I was weak.

I have begun to write down the things that you say.

Like, "Parents pray for their kids to be doctors, lawyers, business men and women. Instead, what we need to be praying is for our kids to be like Jesus!"

Or, when you said that when people tell you that you talk too much about Jesus you tell them, "Well, what else is there to talk about?"

Or, when your friend asked you why you went to church every day and night and that it was just too much. You replied back to her, "I need all of it. And then some."

You are like Jesus, Annie Ruth. More like Him than anyone I have ever met.

When your friend surprised you with a new grill, you began saving and collecting money and food to have a hot dog cookout for all of the neighborhood children.

You love all people. You take every dime of what God has given you and you give it right back out to a hurting world.

You remind me of the poor widow in the bible that gave, "all she had to Jesus."

Your example put a mirror to my heart and I did not like what I saw.

Thank you for coming to our table.

Thank you for not being afraid to be exactly who you are.

Thank you for showing me that even with an 8th grade education, you can be a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. And you can make a difference.

You are making a difference, Annie Ruth.

I hope Jesus will show you one day in Heaven the impact that you have made on so many of us.

I will never be the same.


keep talking, Annie,


jill







Aug 16, 2018

When life is a mess....

I have been meaning to write for a while. 

But, I haven't.

It is hard for me to find the time to sit still these days. Or maybe, I just don't like stillness.

My mind is always racing of a million and one things that need to be done. Or started. Or finished.

Never. Ending.

Our kitchen is undergoing a renovation. What began as a small, two week job....

Has turned into a not so small job.

We have been without a kitchen for several weeks now.

Hey, don't get me wrong, it has been nice not sweating over a stove. But, whew, the chaos of the dust, the mess, the constant in and out of workers....

Is getting a little old.

However, I  am trying to keep my eyes on the finished product. The end result.

It will be worth it.

One day.

Parenting is a lot like this kitchen renovation. The excitement of a whole new adventure begins when you are pregnant. You dream about what it will be like....to be a mommy.

You plan and you pray....

But, parenting gets messy. Oh so messy. Beginning at day one.

Your sleep never will be the same. Ever.

When you have a newborn, you get no sleep.

When you have a teenager, you still get no sleep.

Many a night, I will go to my kids' bedrooms just to look at them. To make sure they are still there, and breathing.

The worry and fear do not get easier,

No matter the age of your child.

The days are messy. Chaotic. Unplanned events.

Just like this kitchen renovation. Like, when some workers stepped through, yes through, our ceiling. Three times.

The job lingers on..

Just like parenting.

Days can be so long. So hard. So confusing.

I feel like an utter screw up as a momma most days.

I pray and I pray.

But, I still have no idea what the outcome of all of these days will be.

I pray that these long, hard, prayer filled days produce a harvest of fruit.

I pray that the ugly messy days will somehow become beautiful.

I pray that God will never allow me to be lazy or unintentional as a momma....even when my children roll their eyes and seem to close their ears to my voice.

It's so easy to want to throw your tired hands up and say, "I GIVE UP. Does it EVEN matter? Lord, can you EVEN hear me?"

Sometimes when I get home to this mess of a kitchen and all of the workers and think, "What in tarnation? I thought we were renovating....not destroying!"

Then, a few days later, I will see some progress. I think to myself, Ohhhhh, so that's what's going on there.

It's hard to tell when you are in the thick of it, day by day.

But, when you step back and take a breath....

You begin to see.

God is building something that human eyes cannot see.

God is chiseling some hard places on my heart  and my childrens' hearts.  It can be painful at times.

Sometimes I want to throw that chisel to China and never lay eyes on it again.

Oh, but without the chisel we are not changed.

Lord, help us to remember this.

Help us to not give up on this parenting thing. Help us to not lose ourselves in something else because we just cannot take another day of being intentional in this motherhood thing.

Lord, help us to not be lulled away by distractions of the enemy but to stay dead set on this job of ours. This calling. This entrusting.

Help us to not give up on the hard days....or on the not so hard days. Help us to not get bored, but to stay plugged in. To stay alert. To stay all in.

Help us to keep the end in sight.

Help us to persevere.

Help us to lean into You and not into a life of escape.

Our children need us to stay intentional.

They need us  to not give up.

They need us to show grace....especially to ourselves.

Mistakes are going to be made. And many.

The outcome of all of this will be worth every ounce of these hard days.

When we finally meet Jesus face to face....It will be worth these days to hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Well done is not perfect...

Well done is done well....

With intention.

Regardless of how God chooses for this story to end....it's our part to show up and do what we can.

Our children may stray....

And when they do, we stay the course, We never stop praying. Until we draw our last breath, we are entrusted with this calling. This purpose.

Hang in there, momma.

There will be fruit from your tired hands.

He is faithful.

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

Jul 10, 2018

Unplugged.....

Last week we went on vacation.

It was so nice being unplugged. Like, really, unplugged.

We had zero in internet or even phone connection. Well, we could have paid a gazillion dollars to have phone service, but we declined.

I was worried about not being able to be in contact with my kids. We were on a huge cruise ship and we had four different rooms among our family members.

Without phones, how would we communicate??

We survived.

In fact, we thrived.

For 7 days we figured out ways to communicate with each other. It was nice. Real nice.

Mornings we would meet at a designated place and time for breakfast. Same for lunch and dinner.

After a few days without phone service, I could feel the anxiety release, and I didn't even miss my phone. (shocking, I know)

Even though my children probably will not admit it, I think they kind of liked being unplugged as well.

Without my phone, I had more time to think. To pray. To laugh. To enjoy the moments with my family.

I had almost forgotten what freedom there was without being connected at all times of the day.

It feels good to be out of the loop. It feels refreshing to not be able to be found. At least for a little bit.

Of course, as soon as we touched land my phone was up and going again. I mean, I had to post pictures on my Instagram account. Duh. (eye roll)

Just as quickly as my anxiety had released from being unplugged, it returned when I plugged back in.

Emails. Texts. Catching up on what I missed on Instagram. (double eye roll)

The world was still spinning. Everyone was still breathing and beating to the drums of their days.

Nothing had changed.

But something inside of me changed.

A longing for quiet of the soul.

A longing for the peace and distraction-free life without the constant buzzing of my phone.

I thought of all the reasons I wanted to ditch my phone all together.

Visions of flip phones raced through my head.

Then, I thought of all of the things I would miss on social media. The pictures, the posts. Being in the know. Not missing out.

Double minded. That's how I felt.

I wanted peace, but I also wanted to be included. Noticed. Liked.

But, is Instagram really the answer to that longing?

No.

For me, it is an excuse.

An excuse to escape. To brag on my children. To display the "good and pretty" of my life.

I felt this ickiness rising in my chest. This feeling that it was too late. I was too plugged in. I could never not be. I mean, I have a SHINE Girls instagram for Heaven's sake. Who would I be able to encourage without posting every day on social media? (eye roll for days)

Again, icky.

As I pray, "Lord, what is the answer? Do you want me to be unplugged?"

I hear and see this verse everywhere as I pray, "Be still."

Not the answer I want to hear.

I want a yes or a no to my question.

Isn't it just like God to just give us a scripture??

This is where that hearing His still small Voice comes in.  Sometimes things are not black and white with God.

Sometimes it just boils down to the state of the heart.

How's my heart doing?

Is it clouded by the distractions of the world?

Is it searching for contentment and fulfillment in places that it will never be found?

So, that's where I am today.

I want that stillness in my soul.

I desperately want to hear God when He speaks so tenderly into my soul. The still, small Voice of His leading.

But, I cannot hear it when my heart beats for something other than Him.

This morning I read about the woman that poured a very expensive jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus.

The disciples were bewildered and disgusted that she had wasted such an expensive thing to wash someone's feet.

Jesus was honored and praised the woman for giving all she had to Him, instead of the world.

This resonates with me.

The distractions of this world will lure us and convince us that what we have to give is wasted if we serve and honor Jesus in ways that don"t make sense to the world.

This woman could have made much money off of her possession. Yet, out of her love and gratefulness she gave all she had to Jesus. Every last drop.

What are we giving to the world instead of saving to present to Jesus as a love offering?

He can do so much more with our offerings than we ever could.

Sometimes serving Jesus doesn't make any sense. Just ask the disciples. They were often dumbfounded by what Jesus asked of them. They didn't understand His ways.

We don't either at times.

But, if we quiet our hearts, read His Word, and earnestly seek Him.....

He will lead us.

Sometimes we must unplug to do this.

Maybe even just for a season...

**a little update after writing this post: I reached for my phone to check  it.....and  it went DEAD. Dead as a door nail. Hmm....**


quieting my world,


jill



Jun 25, 2018

Do Not Open, yet......

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
Matthew 6:21


There's an envelope in my bedroom. It's tucked away in a safe place.

I haven't shown it to anyone except my son.

The envelope is filled with his senior picture proofs.

Normally, I would show them to all the world, smiling from ear to proud-momma ear.

This time is different.

I am not ready to show them to anyone yet. I am still treasuring them in my momma heart.

Eventually, I will show them to people. In my time.

I remember a scripture in the bible about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think of it so often.

It reads: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19


Jesus had just been born. The Shepherds had come to visit. They were worshiping and praising the baby King Jesus. Mary looked around and must have felt the most overwhelming love swell in her heart. 

A love that escapes words. 

A love that can only be understood in the deepest depth of your soul. 

A love that only God Himself can understand. 

Mary treasured and Mary pondered. 

With the world of social media, treasuring and pondering is a rare commodity. 

We don't have time to do either. We instantly express whatever emotion we feel at the moment and blast it out for all the world to see. 

But, there is something precious about treasuring and pondering.

There is something holy about a love so deep and a feeling so strong that we have no desire to share it yet with the world. 

A sacred love. 

Mary surely felt this. She alone was the mother of this baby King. She alone was the woman that would get to raise this child and watch him grow into an adult. 

Sometimes, words are not meant to be spoken. 

Sometimes, words are meant to be treasured and pondered. 

Between God and between us. 

Just the two of us. 

There are moments in my marriage that I feel this sacred love. Moments that I bury deep into my heart to store. Hidden treasure. 

There are moments with my children that I feel this sacred love. When I don't log on to instagram to document it. When I just sit and treasure up the moment. Hoping that for one second the world will stand still, and this memory will stay buried in the treasure chest of my heart. 

There are other times. 

Like, when we do something that no one else sees. Serving someone that cannot return the service. Helping someone that will never give us the credit for the sacrifice. 

These times are sacred and holy. 

These stories are often just to be known between us and God. 

Sometimes we can even treasure grief. 

We can feel so much pain over the loss of someone or something that the pain can only be understood by God. Our words fail us. But God sees. He hears when nothing is spoken. 

We treasure not the grief, but the memories. We remember. We ponder. We bury more treasure into our heart chest. 

So, I will keep those senior proofs in that envelope for a little while longer. 

I want to continue to treasure and ponder.

Until the time is right.


holding those pictures close for now, 


jill











Jun 21, 2018

Who's King of your heart?


The one thing I ask of the LORD--the thing I seek most--is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in his Temple. Psalm 27:4


My daughter's voice teacher, Christa, is working on a new song for Presley to sing. The song is called, "King of my heart". 

As I listen to them from the other room practicing the words, the tune, the technique of this beautiful song, I pondered this question...

Who or what is the King of my heart?

I can tell you with honesty it hasn't always been Jesus. 

He has been a close second at times, but I can look at a calendar and point to a particular year and tell you exactly who or what was king of my heart at the time. 

I remember not too long ago one king in particular.

I wanted more children. I so badly wanted to adopt. I felt this stirring in my heart and I prayed for years and years for God to fulfill this desire. 

My husband did not have the same desire. I begged and pleaded with him to pray with me about this and he was very adamant that he did not feel like we should add more children to our family. 

I was devastated. 

I began to have bitterness towards him, and towards God. 

Why would God put me with a man that did not share my same desire?

Tear stained journal entries filled the pages of my life. 

My heart began to grow hard toward the Lord and toward my husband. 

My desire for more children became an idol. 

It consumed my thoughts. It weighed on my heart heavily this emptiness I felt that could only be filled by more children. 

I could go on and on...

There have been many kings of my heart. 

However, until I began to truly desire only One King...my life was not fulfilled. 

The Lord slowly began to help me unclench my fingers from this desire. It was a long process. 

I didn't want to give up that desire. It had become an addiction almost. It had put a wedge between me and the Lord and me and my husband. But, I didn't care. I just wanted what I wanted. 

I began to pray the same prayer as David prayed in the verse above in Psalm 24. Over and over I prayed this prayer. 

I also began to pray, "Lord, your will be done. Not mine."

Those are some of the hardest words to pray. 

I began to see how God was fulfilling the desire for more children in different ways than I had imagined. Like, when kids from the neighborhood would constantly be in and out of our house. Sitting at our table night after night for dinner. Or, when my nephew came to live with us for 3 years.  Or, helping in the classrooms that my kids were in. 

I began to see that the stirring to help children was much broader than I had initially thought, and much different than I had planned. 

Isn't that always like God? 

We must trust God with our desires, and trust Him with His timing. This will come much easier when He becomes our first desire. The King of our heart above anyone or anything else. 

Desires are good, but they must never be bigger than our desire for Jesus. 

We must constantly stay in the Word and in prayer in order to untangle the desires that stir our hearts. 

Who or what is King of your heart?

Ask the Lord Jesus to be King. Every single day seek Him and talk to Him. Ask Him to put in your heart desires that only come from Him. 

Ask the Lord to remove any desire that is not from Him, and be willing to lay it down. 

He has better things for you than you could ever imagine. 


dethroning any other king of this heart, 

jill



Jun 19, 2018

Maturing Momma...

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Matthew 14:19



I am really, really trying to cherish every second this Summer. My oldest will be a senior this upcoming school year. Did I hear you gasp? Yeah, me too.

Today, I looked at my calendar and it said, June 19th.

What???!!!

Already the time is getting away from me. Once again, Summer makes its entrance and just as soon as it does, it bows back out for the school year.

Back in my day, you know the world of black and white, we had 3 full months of Summer. School did not begin until after Labor Day.

Ugh. Don't even get me started.

Ok, moving on.

My son works during the week, then of course, he wants to hang out with his friends as much as he can when he is home.

Which leaves not a whole lot of cherish-y time for dear ol' momma.

Here's what I am learning though...

I am thankful for the moments I do have with him. Even though they are few and far between many days.

Instead of trying to manipulate time and break my back trying to force things the way I want them to be, I tell the Lord I am thankful.

I am thankful when I see him laugh.

I am thankful when I see him work.

I am thankful when I see him act silly.

I am thankful when I sit across from him at the dinner table.

I am thankful that I get to check for change and who knows what in his shorts pockets when I wash them.

I am thankful when he comes to me and sits down next to me and just hangs with me on the couch.

Having teenagers forces you to change your focus. I could whine and cry all day about missing my "baby", however what good is that going to do?

Instead, I choose to smile and say a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

Life moves on.

It continues to change.

Day by day.

Hour by hour.

We may as well accept it.

Maturing in motherhood changes your vision.

You begin to see the child become the adult.

It is really quite amazing.

The talks you have with your growing up kids....gosh, they are just priceless.

As I was reading in Matthew this morning, I came across the scriptures of Jesus feeding the five thousand.

The disciples were anxious and doubtful. They wanted to send the crowd of people home because they did not have enough food to give them.

Jesus assured them they would have enough.

Jesus gave thanks to God for the food....

And they all ate

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:20-21

"and they were satisfied."

When we give thanks, we become satisfied.

Giving thanks creates a peace in the soul that brings contentment.

I am satisfied with my children growing up.

I am content with the way things are now instead of hanging on to memories that will never return.

A thankful heart frees up discontentment and it allows joy to harvest.

Is there an area of life that you are struggling with?

Maybe a child? A marriage? A friendship?

Commit that person to the Lord and give thanks for them. God will do a miracle in your heart.

Just like He did with the five thousand.


still maturing,


jill











Jun 14, 2018

Who do you hang with?

The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25:40

For the past several Summers I have veered away from my bible reading plan and read instead the  gospels of the New Testament.

Each and every day that I read a passage, I have to stop. Take a breath. Take it all in.

I read slow. Sometimes I don't even finish a chapter. I look deep into the words. I try to visualize the scene.

With each passage, another treasure uncovered. Just when I think there is no possible way of getting anything else out of a scripture, the Lord reveals something else to my awaiting heart.

When I read about the Pharisees, I tend to tighten my lips and feel a pang of oneness with them. I have been like the Pharisee. I have been like a whitewashed tomb. White and clean on the outside, but full of dirt on the inside.

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. Matthew 23:27

I cringe ate  the thought.

The times when I thought that rubbing elbows with church people could make me clean. The times  when I thought that if I said the right thing, and did the right thing, then that was all that mattered. Forgetting that God saw my heart.

Before I found the Grace of Christ, I thought I had to muster up goodness. I thought I had to strive and work, and pretty up for God.

I remember the first time I served in a homeless shelter. For the first time in my life, I felt home.

It was the strangest thing.

I felt free.

I felt like I belonged.

I felt like I had found my people.

What in the world?

Yet, as I read through the New Testament, I am reminded of who Jesus spent his time with. Certainly not religious folks. They knew the old testament inside out but had no idea the true meaning. Their lives were on display for humans instead of on fire for God.

Jesus hung with the least of these.

The ones who were forgotten.  The ones who were shunned. The ones who were not thought highly of. The ones who society did not accept.

Those were Jesus' people.

When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." Matthew 23:27

Jesus knew they needed Him. Jesus knew they were hungry for Him.

The religious people were too starved of humility to realize their need for Christ.

White washed tombs. 

Something awakens in our hearts when we hang with people that cannot do anything for us. Something happens in our souls when we hang with people with no agenda and no desire for something from us--except maybe a warm meal and a kind word.

A flame ignites.

We become closer to Jesus when we get closer to the least of these.

Who are the least of these in your life?

Is it someone you see but have never really "seen"?

Lord, open our eyes. 

Let us see what You see. 

Ignite our hearts with the desire to be in the company of those that the world rejects. Because, those are the ones you welcome, Lord. 


May 20, 2018

Silent Suffering...

"but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

I have sat down to write this post a hundred times, at least. But, I just could not bring myself to do it.

Possibly,  because I didn't think I was smart enough or wise enough to broach this subject. Perhaps, I was even afraid that I was wrong. Maybe, everything I wanted to say was not the way it really is.

This afternoon, I left the grocery story and headed home. My heart started beating a little faster and my mind was filled with racing thoughts about this post. It was time.

In my late twenties I suffered from terrible panic and anxiety attacks. I had no idea what they were at first. After visiting every doctor under the sun to try to help me, I was finally diagnosed with panic disorder.

I remember being disappointed with the diagnosis.

It sounded so.....

Crazy.

I wanted it to be anything but a mental thing.

I began seeing a therapist. Two of them actually.

Like it was yesterday, I remember telling one of them, "But, you don't understand. I am a Christian. Christian's don't take medicine for things like this. Christian's should be able to trust the Lord enough to heal them and not have to see doctors."

He looked me square in my tear stained eyes and said, "Jill, I am a Christian too. I was called into this profession to help people. All people. Do you think that medicine and doctors are not  from the Lord?"

I gulped loudly.

My mind was spinning.

Peace suddenly filled my soul.

He was right.

If I had found a lump in my breast I would have gone straight to a doctor. I would have asked for prayer. I would have taken the medicine. I would have gotten the help I needed.

But, for some reason, this seemed different.

It seemed so shaming.

I was ashamed.

My life was good. I had a family that loved me and a husband that adored me.

Yet, I could not function.

I could not go anywhere without my heart racing, the room spinning and have a feeling of impending doom.

My mind was not well.

My brain was not functioning properly.

But, I was still ashamed.

I remember praying, "Lord, anything but this."

I started my first anti-anxiety medicine at 28.

It got worse before it got better.

But, finally...

I felt like myself again.

I could go to the grocery store without having to run out of it.

I could take my baby to the pediatrician without having someone drive me.

My life was coming back together.

I still never really talked about the medicine.

I was still ashamed that I had to take medicine to feel normal.

After about a year, I weaned off of it.

I did well for about 3 years, until it happened again.

This time, I was a mother of two.

What was wrong with me??

I went to a different doctor this time.

I remember crying in her office when she asked me if I had ever had suicidal thoughts...

I didn't answer her, I just cried.

She took that as a yes.

I remember her telling me that medicine would just help jump start my brain back into the normal way it functioned.

I was ashamed, again.

Why would God let this happen?? I was praying. I was reading my Bible. I was not in a season of sin.

So, why???

I was angry with God.

But, after the persuasion of my doctor and my husband, I started taking medicine....again.

I kind of just stuffed those angry feelings down deep. I didn't want to deal with them. I buried them deep into my heart.

I began to have serious trust issues with God.

If He won't heal me from this, He must not love me.

I convinced myself of this.

For years.

Until I started devouring God's word in 2012.

I started to trust Him again. Slowly.

He had proven Himself faithful time and time again.

But, honestly, I still did not understand why I had to fight mental battles.

A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Something about this made me see God differently.

I knew she was loved by the Lord. I knew she loved Him. I knew she lived a godly life.

So, why??

Then, things began to come into perspective for me.

Why did I think I would ever be spared suffering?

Whether it was physical or mental, it was still suffering.

From what I had read in the bible up until that point, all of God's most beloved people suffered from something.

David. Joseph. Moses. Esther. Ruth. Daniel.

Jesus.

Who was I to think that I would be exempt from suffering?

It has been a slow process for me.

I have had moments where I still question Him about this.

Then, I just surrender to Him. And, at times, that meant taking the medicine I did not want to take.

Listen, this is not a post about medicine.

It's a post about God.

And getting help.

And surrendering to what your husband, or parents, or wise doctors advise you to do.

When we are sick, we need the counsel of others. We need to have the faith of a child and let them help us. To take care of us and point us to what we need.

Of course, all of this should be covered in prayer. Much prayer.

But, I am so tired of Christian women feeling like they have to hide their mental struggles. They are convinced by themselves and sometimes other Christian's that if they would just be "more faithful", or "believe harder", they would be healed.

I have found along this journey, that many women suffer with anxiety, fear and panic. I have learned that they also hide it well.

I have found that they carry shame, just like I did.

We must be willing to talk about this. To get help. To get therapy. To ask our friends to pray for us and with us.

This journey has actually brought me closer to God and to others who suffer. Suffering creates a bond with others like nothing else.

Suffering gives you compassion that you could not have otherwise.

Please. If you are dealing with mental issues, reach out. Talk to someone.

God uses people. He uses doctors. Therapists. Counselors. Medicine.

Don't suffer in silence.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

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


pushing back the darkness,


jill




May 1, 2018

Before you fall...

A few weeks ago I found myself face first in a deep dark pit of fear.

I have been in that same pit before, but this time I thought that I knew better. I thought I was victorious over fear. I thought fear could not hold me captive again.

How very wrong I was.

It started by a very small thought. Then, I expressed this thought to a couple of people. Then, I turned this thought over in my head day and night, night and day.

Then, I started googling this thought. As you all know, google is a terrible place to look for something out of fear and desperation. Anyone been there? Ever had a sick child and googled their symptoms? Yep, full blown anxiety attack.

When we are in a place of captivity, we turn inward. We secretly think things and act on impulses that are completely irrational and against our faith nature.

We rely on flesh.

The last place we often turn is to the Word of God.

We think to ourselves, "I don't need scripture, I need an answer."

We look for peace and assurance in all the wrong places.

I imagine God is looking down thinking, "Daughter, you know you won't find the answer there. Come to me. Come to me, weary girl."

Often when we find ourselves in captivity, we are blind and deaf to the Lord. Sin separates us form Him. [Isaiah 59:2]

I remember thinking in this deep well of fear that I could not even remember what peace felt like. It felt so far away. I even blamed God for letting me get this far into the well of fear.

My own choices led me there. I chose to not take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. [2 Corinthians 10:5]

I chose to go my own way.

I chose to listen to the world and the lure of google to give me an answer for my worries.

God didn't push me away, I pushed away with the help of an enemy who roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [1 Peter 5:8]

Here's the thing..

I know better.

I have been down this road more times than I want to remember.

I knew not to take the dark paths that lead to fear.

But, my flesh desired more. More answers. More information.

Remember what finally got Eve to bite the piece of fruit in the garden? It was her desire for more. She wanted to know more. She wanted to have full knowledge.

I wanted the same thing.

The world will never, ever, fulfill us. The world and its answers will only make us crazy, fearful, and empty.

We must turn to God when we find ourselves on the brink of any kind of captivity.

This is why the enemy loves when we fall into dark wells of captivity:

  • We turn inward.
  • We cease praying.
  • We cease reading God's Word.
  • We turn away from friends and family in our shame.
  • We do desperate things in order to fill the sin craving.
  • We cease being able to use our gifts to minister to others.
  • We cease to serve others because we are self-consumed.
Oh, friends, if I could look you right in the face and tell you something right now it would be to stop looking to the world for saving. The world will NOT save us. The enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy us.

Only God can save us. Only God can wash us over with peace. Only God is our refuge and our strong tower. [Psalm 61:3]

The world will suck us in and it will feel like we are stuck on the spin cycle of a washing machine.

If you find yourself in this place. Stop. Immediately.

Go straight to the Father and repent of your sins.

Ask Him to give you the strength to stay away from things that will lead you straight back into the black well of captivity. You know the things that tempt you. You know them well and so does your enemy.

I can tell you with all honesty and truth that God will help you. He will rescue you. But, you must be willing to turn away. You must use the strength He gives you to walk back to Him and His Truth and Peace.

His Life Line is always there. Always. You just have to reach for it.

Coming out of the fog of fear, I look back and cannot believe how I fell again. I know better.

However, our enemy is relentless and he doesn't miss an opportunity to tempt us. Often when we are weak, stressed, vulnerable....is when he strikes.

Be alert! Be on guard! [1 Peter 5:8]

Clothe yourselves daily with scripture. Do not give the enemy an opportunity to trip you up. Put your armor on before the attack comes.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10

Don't ever be fooled enough to think that you are so far along in your faith that you cannot be tempted right back to that place of captivity.

Paul tells us to not boast in ourselves, but to boast in Christ alone.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31

We must be intentional about waking up every morning and inhaling God's Word just as much as we like to inhale our coffee. We must be intentional about praying as much as we like to browse social media. And, we MUST be alert to the things around us that the enemy is using to trip us up. We must open our spiritual eyes and keep them open every single day.

The enemy is not just out to destroy us...he is out to destroy our husbands, our children, our families. Make no mistake about that. You are not spared. Be ready to take your stand against his schemes.

The good news is, we will always be victorious with God on our side. We cannot lose.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

armor up,


jill




Apr 30, 2018

Finding Simple....

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  1 Timothy 6:6-8

Do you crave a simple life? Do you just wish that your life had some kind of order and structure?

Me too. 

So, I am on a journey to find simplicity. 

If you are reading along with us on our reading plan then you are well aware that we are learning a whole lot about the Israelites. People so much like us. 

The Israelites were always trying to make things harder. To do things the hard way instead of the simple way of obedience. 

They were constantly trying to find short-cuts, which inevitably led them to 40 years of wandering in the desert. 

The journey to the Promised Land could have taken 2 weeks. It was a 200 mile journey.  Instead, it took 40 years and a whole generation of people dying before they reached their final destination.

Gosh, aren't we so much like those stubborn Israelites?  We are always looking for the fast track, and the easy way out. 

In our culture today, we have so many "things" to make our lives easier. Computers, cell phones, GPS, microwaves, self-driving cars (really?!!)...

In the search for simplicity, we have found anything but. 

Our lives are complicated by a million tv channels, thousands upon thousands of Internet search engines,  shopping online at any store in the whole world...

Too. Many. Choices. 

I tend to get anxious just thinking about all of the choices! Did I choose the right one? The cheapest one? The best deal?

Good grief. 

Remember when the Israelites were hungry and they asked God for food? 

God rained down "manna" from heaven. 

This was all they had to eat. And it was enough. 

The people were told not to hoard it or save it overnight though or it would be rancid and spoiled by the morning. 

Of course, many of the people did this very thing. And, to their bewilderment, they awoke with a mess of spoiled manna. 

They didn't believe that God would provide this food for them every day, so they took too much and hoarded it. Only to find that it would make them sick the next day. 

 Hello? Anyone see the comparison to us?

We don't trust that God will provide our needs, so we hoard. We over-purchase. We stock up and pile up "stuff" until we don't even know what we have. 

We long for simplicity, but it scares us. 

What if we don't have what we need when we need it?

Seriously? There is a Wal-Mart on every corner. 
 
Somewhere along the way we get attached to our "stuff" and it makes for a messy and cluttered life. 

Which leads to a cluttered mind. 

Every single time I see a bird flying in the air, I long for its freedom. Birds have nothing to hold onto. They live such simple lives. 

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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Matthew 6:25-27

How I long for that feeling. Of no attachments to stuff.  Or schedules. Or anything that makes me miss out on the present of my moments. 

To assist my journey of simplicity,  I am cleaning out my closet. I am appalled at how much "stuff" I have. I cannot throw it into a black trash bag fast enough to give away. 

It's freeing. 

It unlocks something in my soul to be able to let it go. 

But, there are other things I need to simplify. And, I am working on that. 

What about you?

What do you need to get rid of to have a simpler life?

When we are surrounded by clutter, our spirit cannot hear the Voice of the Lord for all the noise. 

We miss out on so much because we have too much to tend to. 

Will you join me on this journey? 

I am praying for you. To let stuff go. To be free from whatever it is that suffocates you and holds you back from freedom. 

Let's don't be like those Israelites....

Let's trust that God will provide for us so we don't have to hoard and stock pile anymore. 


back to my closet, 

jill

Apr 26, 2018

When you want to be known....


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).


As I scroll through my Instagram feed, I feel a heaviness in my spirit. I love pictures. I love stories. I love people.

However, for the past year or so God has opened my eyes to some things in my own life that needed pruning.

My desire to be known.

I think, deep down, we all have this desire.

Yet, the world twists it into something it was never meant to be.

God gave us this desire to be known, so He could fulfill it.

He wants us to know that we are known by Him.

We are adored by Him.

We are important to Him.

But, somewhere along the way, our flesh strives and screams and begs to be known by others.

To be regarded.

To be looked upon with fondness.

To be important.

To be noticed.

To be admired.

To be....

You fill in the blank.

I can put a lot of fills in those blanks. Through the years i have  filled those blanks with many things I wanted to be known for.

a good mom. 

a good wife. 

a good Christian. 

a good writer. 

I can go on for days, but I will stop here.

Social media is creating a monster in the hearts and minds of us and our children.

Thanks to the world wide web, you can get "known" for just about anything these days. And, I mean ANYTHING. Good, bad, and everything in between.

Things go viral in a hot second and suddenly someone is known by the world.

Haven't we seen this time and time again?

Deep down in the minds of our kids and maybe even us, we think if only we could be "discovered" and "known".  (I have definitely had this thought about being a writer. Many times. )

I have seen post after post of kids (and adults) asking their friends to like their post. To get the most likes they can possibly get.

Why?

To be known. 

We "follow" others on social media in hopes that they will "follow" us back.  We follow people we may not even know because they will follow us back.  The more followers we have, the more "known" we are.

It all goes back to one thing...

We crave being known.

Discovered.

Liked.

Thought of.

Talked about.

Admired.

How do we stop this crazy game that only leads to loneliness and lack of fulfillment?

We remember who we are.

We remember Whose we are.

We remember that we are known by the Only One that really knows us in the way we long to be known. The One who knows the exact number of hairs on your head. (Luke 12:7)

When we realize what a treasure we are to our Father in Heaven, we realize we don't want or need to be known by the world.

The fulfillment comes when we walk with the Holy Knowing of our place in Christ.

Heirs of the King.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Chosen, Treasured. Dearly loved.

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

We are known.

Nothing on earth compares to being known by our Father. No person. place, or thing could ever replace the filling that comes with this knowing.

Let's walk in this knowing. Let's point our children to this knowing. Let's point the way to Fulfillment. Shall we?


fully known by Him,


jill

Apr 25, 2018

Will it really be okay?

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Lately, the heaviness of the world feels like it is sitting on my chest. I feel the panic rise some days, and I have to go back to what I know. God's Word.

When this feeling comes up through my chest cavity and into my throat feeling like I will most likely suffocate, I recite God's Word. Over and over.

Immediately the panic is gone.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. Hebrews 4:12

A few nights ago, I escaped to our back porch. The sky was pitch black except for the sliver of a bright and shining moon. I gasped when I saw the moon. So bright. So captivating. So affirming.

God is light, there is no darkness in Him at all. 1 John 1:5

As I stared at the moon and heard the words of 1 John repeating in my head over and over, my heart was washed over in peace.

Everything is going to be okay.

Everything is going to be okay.

Everything is going to be okay.

I felt the same way I did when my mother would tuck me in at night when I was a scared and frightened little girl. She would always say, "It's okay baby. Everything is just fine."

The warmth of her words washed over me.

Just as the warmth of God's Words washes over me.

I cannot be fearful when I am saying His Words.

I cannot be scared when His Word is being spoken, whispered into the depths of my spirit.

I cannot worry what tomorrow will bring when I know that He has tomorrow in His hands.

Do I think He doesn't know what I need? What my family needs? What our nation needs? What our world needs?

 ...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

It feels good to ask Him though.

It feels good to say, "Lord, is it going to be alright? Do you see our need? Do you see the state of our world? It will be okay, right?"

Just as a child asks her mother, we ask the Lord.

It affirms our faith.

It shows our dependence on Him when we can just stop dead in our tracks and say, "Lord, it will be okay, right?"

We need to talk to Him. We need to tell Him how we are feeling. We need to shed the thousand pound weight of worry on our hearts. We need to unload it on Him. He can handle it. But, we cannot.

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 11:29-30

The truth is, I have no idea what will happen. No idea.

But, God does.

My job is to be still, and know that He is God. And pray.

Worrying, fretting, and incessantly talking about the fears we have, is not being still. It is in fact, quite the opposite.

We are to have a deep knowing of God's Hand in all things.

Our times are in His hands. Psalm 31:15

I am reminded of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. As she sat at the cross where her perfect Son was being crucified, tortured, laughed at, mocked, spat upon...

She was still. Quiet. Prayerful.

She could have wailed, pitched a fit, made a scene, plead His case....

Yet, she sat still.

Mary had a knowing.

A knowing that could of only come from her faith in Jesus.

She knew it would all be okay.

Surely, it didn't look okay in the moment...

Yet, she knew.

She trusted God enough to know that this was not the end.

Her faith kept her still, quiet, and prayerful.

Mary was able to see the fruit of her faith just a few short days later, when she would see Jesus in His Glorious arisen state.  But, she also had to see the absolute worst of scenarios right up until then.

Our children are watching us. Our neighbors are watching us. The world is watching us.

What will we do?

Will we panic? Will be feverishly try to figure out the outcome? Will we lose sleep, worry incessantly, and drive ourselves to a mad state of mind?

Or, will we be still. Quiet. Prayerful.

Knowing, that all things work together for our good. [Romans 8:28]


choosing stillness,


jill

Apr 24, 2018

In the Weeds....

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"The Lord lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads" Psalm 146:8

A few minutes ago, I stepped outside to sit on my front porch. I needed to breathe. I needed to see air and space and green grass. I needed to inhale the bigness of God's Creation outside of the sometimes bubble of my life.

I sat on the pollen covered front step. Black pants on, but not a care in the world for those pants that would soon be covered with yellow dust.  I just needed to sit and be still.

As I looked over our yard, a faint giggle came to my lips. We have weeds the size of a small toddler growing everywhere. I have recently teased my friends that they were secretly planning to start a "go-fund me page" for our yard.

Don't get me wrong, we have a great yard. However, with cutting a few trees down, we have dirt piles and we are majorly in need of pine straw for our flower beds.

We are patiently waiting for our yard maintenance company to squeeze us into his overloaded schedule for a major yard overhaul. My husband has declared he is not pulling one weed or wasting and ounce of energy on this yard until the extreme make-over of our lawn is complete.

I tend to disagree. We live right smack in the middle of town where everyone and their grandma drives by to take kids to school. [hello, humility]

A little weed pulling would not hurt, I assured him. He sticks to his theory. He says [with ALL seriousness], the worse the yard gets as we wait for the yard man, the better it will appear once it is finished. [I am still scratching my head over that]

But, as I sat there a few minutes ago looking at dandelions, weeds, and tall yellow flowers growing wildly about me, I began to feel a freedom slowly washing over me.

Who cares.

Really, who cares.

There is freedom in growing wild and carefree. There is freedom in not conforming to the norm or keeping up with the status quo set in our always- comparing -ourselves -to -others mind.

As I eyed the weeds, I began to see beauty. So much beauty.

Those weeds were finally able to bloom. To be set free from a life only able to live just above the soil until someone bends down and snatches them up by the root.

Gosh, don't we feel like weeds sometimes? Like, we just cannot bloom because something or someone is constantly telling us we don't belong. We are not quite enough.

The burden of trying to live up to a certain set of standards warps our soul and our uniqueness.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Everything.[Ecclesiastes 3:11]

Perfectly manicured lives can often be lifeless. Dead. And lost of all of God's beautiful design and purpose.

Because...

With perfectly manicured lives comes a burden. The burden of maintaining that perfection. It will not allow us to get messy with loving others. We won't desire anything in our lives that will mess with the life we have on display. The load will get heavy. The maintenance will grow our hearts cold and devoid of allowing others to frolic in our space.

Weeds attract footprints and an open invitation to step right on in and pick as many wildflowers as your heart pleases. There is no limit on the giving or the taking in a field of wildflowers. Take what you please. More will grow right back up in its place.

Oh, I long to live like wildflowers. Wild and free.

Perfectly content with who God created me to be. Where He created me to live. And all He brings into my space. With open arms waving for all to come in and sit down among the weeds and wild flowers.

Instead of apologizing for all of the weeds, allowing them to partake of a life of freedom right along side of me. Soaking up the beauty of messy love, messy yards, and messy lives.

There is beauty in the mess.

So much beauty.

We find our purpose there because our eyes begin to focus upward and outward instead of inward.

If you happen to drive by my house, feel free to come and play in the wildflowers. Pick them, blow the dandelions all over the place, and then come knock on my door. I will greet you with a hot cup of coffee or a cold can of La Croix. Depending on the time of day you come.

You are welcome here. Mess and all.


learning to love weeds,


jill

Apr 23, 2018

Do you remember?

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4


Since my children were little we called Monday's, "Mission Monday". We would look for an opportunity to serve someone. Usually a neighbor.

As the children get older, we forget about Mission Monday.  Life gets hectic. Schedules get crazy. Homework gets out of control. [can I get an amen?]

Every blue moon I will say, "it's Mission Monday! Find someone to bless today!" Honestly, I do it more for a reminder to me. To get out of my bubble. My to-do list. My self-centered life.

However, when I do take the time to stop and do something for someone else, I am filled in such a beautiful way. Suddenly, my to-do list seems manageable. My bubble seems silly.

Serving opens our spiritual eyes like nothing else. Serving allows us to see how Jesus sees.

Gosh, I want that more than anything.

I want eyes like Jesus. I want to see what I so often miss when I rush around looking down, looking inward.

We all desire to be intentional, don't we? I believe we do. We just forget. We get busy. We move on.

So many times in scripture, God tells us to "remember". He sure knows us well, doesn't He?

Not too long ago I was going through a spiritual battle. A battle that about knocked my lights out. Yet, I heard the gentle whisper of Jesus saying to me, "Remember my Faithfulness."

Remember.

How quickly I had forgotten the many, many times He had rescued me from myself. From fear. From anxious thoughts. From the enemy's lies whispered in my ears.

During that dark season I read over my prayer journals from years past. Desperately searching for a jog to my memory regarding His Faithfulness.

It didn't take long for me to find it.  Prayer after prayer answered. Some answered in days, some in weeks, some in years. But, answered none the less. In His way, and in His time.

How quickly I had forgotten His faithfulness.

What is it that you want to be intentional about?

Make it a priority.

Put a note on your calendar as a reminder.

Ask someone to hold you accountable.

Do it with your children.

A few things come to my mind of things I want to be intentional every single day about...


  • Reading God's Word
  • Prayer
  • Being a helping wife
  • Being an encourager
  • Being Kind
  • Serving others
These seem like they would be easy to remember...but they aren't always easy when life gets tough and hectic. 

We have to be intentional. We have to make it a priority. We have to remember. 

I encourage you to remember today.  Remember what you want to do with your life. Remember who you want to be. 

And do it.


back to mission monday,


jill








Apr 22, 2018

I have a thorn....

When I come out of darkness, I have this insatiable need to write. To let it out. To talk about it.

I desperately need to share what God has been speaking to my heart. My flesh just feels like it will burst some days!

For about two months, I have been in utter darkness. A season so dark I thought I would surely never see light again.

Here is the thing...nothing bad happened. There wasn't a colossal incident in my life that brought on this season of pitch black.

It came out of the blue and knocked me down like a ton of bricks.

It had been so long since I had been that desperate, and I do mean desperate for a Word from God. I needed to know that I was not forgotten. I needed to know that I was still on His radar. I needed to know that I was not alone in this battle. Oh, and battle it was.

If you have never had your heart beat so wildly that you thought for sure it would beat right out of your chest....

If you have never felt like the world was closing in on you...

If you have never had your head so filled with fear that you would rather die than open your eyes...

Then, this post will be hard to understand.

But, if you, like me, have had anxiety and panic attacks....you will be nodding your head in agreement.

I have prayed so many times that God would take these panic attacks from me and give me another weakness...ANYTHING but this.

Yet, the thorn has not been removed.

Let me say something here though...

This thorn is what drew me to Jesus. This thorn is what made me open God's word sitting on my shelf after sitting dusty and dormant for YEARS.

This thorn is the reason I have hidden scripture in my heart and can recite just about every verse on fear and anxiety. Not bragging here, just showing you the depth of this thorn.

I have been told that my faith wasn't strong enough. Or, I was not praying enough. Or, I just didn't read the Bible enough.

I have been told that I just need to think positive and retrain my thoughts.

I believe all of those things.

But, what if you are doing those things...what if it is not a prayer thing, or a faith thing at all?

What if it is just a thorn that the Lord is allowing for a greater purpose?

I sat happily eating my chicfila breakfast one morning last week. I glanced out the window and saw an elderly man with a severe handicap. He was by himself. Walking, more like limping his way into the restaurant. He used a walker. His steps were so small and so slow.

It took him 10 minutes to get into the restaurant.

I watched and my eyes filled with tears. Not tears of pity, but tears of joy.

In that moment, the Lord spoke so gently to my heart.....

Everyone has a thorn, Jill. 

Suddenly, after weeks and weeks of being in utter darkness, I saw Light. The Light of His Truth shining deep inside my soul. Piercing my heart in a way that it had never been pierced.

I remembered Paul. He wrote this...

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

His Power is made perfect in our weakness. BAM.

If I had never had this thorn, I would have NEVER drawn close to Jesus. I would have had no use for Him.

Gosh, how clear this has become.

We all have thorns.

Sometimes God chooses to remove those thorns, and sometimes He doesn't.

Let me assure you though, BOTH scenarios reveal His Power.

He will either choose to reveal His Power by removing the thorn, or He will reveal His Power in spite of the thorn.

Oh, y'all.

I cannot even tell you with mere words what this has meant to my walk with Jesus.

I have questioned Him for so long regarding this thorn...wondering why in the world I could not muster up enough faith to be free from it.

Could it be that this thorn is the very thing that keeps me in close fellowship with Him...

The very thing that brings me to my knees head over heels in love with His mercy, grace, and peace.

Despite the thorn, He comforts. Despite the thorn, He heals. Despite the thorn, He soothes me.

Oh, friend. I hope you will see God's great love for you despite your thorns.

I hope you will see that He loves you so much that He will stop at nothing to draw your heart to His.  Instead of asking Him to remove your thorn, thank Him for allowing it to draw you close to Him.

If He chooses to remove it, then so be it.

But, if not, keep walking with that limp. The world will see His power magnified in your life.

Trust Him. He is Faithful.


limping,


jill