Mar 27, 2018

You are not alone...

"He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." Psalm 107:29-30

Have you ever found yourself in a dark place? A lonely place? A place of suffering? A place of waiting? A place of grief?

Recently, I was in a place like this. A lonely place.

My first desire when in such a place is to withdraw. Go inside. Lick my wounds.

However, something happened a few weeks ago that shed light into the darkness I was feeling. Something unexpected, yet healing.

I woke up with a heavy and anxious heart. I wanted to bury myself under my covers and never come out. I was tired and weary.

Yet, I got out of bed anyway. I got dressed anyway. I stuck to my agenda that day anyway.

"Take the next step, Jill. Stay the course."

The Holy Spirit was breathing these words into my heart each morning. "Just do the next thing..."

Okay, okay.

So, off I went to my morning yoga class. The very last thing I wanted to do was be surrounded by happy-ish people in a small room playing sad music. [eye roll]

But, I did it anyway. Staying at home just wasn't going to be an option that day. I felt pulled to move. To show up. To go.

I walked into my yoga class and to my surprise it was only the instructor and one other girl. A small class. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

The class was about to begin and the instructor looked me straight in the eyes with her smiling face and said, "How are you, Jill?"

Never one to hide my emotions [eye roll again], I spilled my heart out. Right there on that yoga mat.

After my heart was split wide open on the yoga floor, I felt foolish for offering it so freely. I mean, seriously? Like these girls really care about how I am doing. Ugh. Why did I do this??

I wanted to find the nearest exit and split.

But, before I could...

The girl next to me said, "Jill, you are not alone. I feel those exact same things. I have been struggling too."

Then, the instructor said, "Jill, I have been struggling as well."

The three of us sat on our yoga mats and shared our hearts.

We encouraged each other in those minutes...

We laughed, well, they laughed....I cried. LIKE ALWAYS. [EYE ROLL]

Eventually, we did yoga.

But, I felt lighter. I felt less alone.

I started to feel somewhat normal again....

They struggled too.

With almost the exact same thing I was dealing with.

Who knew?

God did.

He knew I needed to go to that class.

He wanted to show me that I was not alone.

There were others...

Perhaps many others...

Who struggle daily...with something.

We often overlook them because we are deeply buried in our own ordeals...

Yet, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and look up and out..

We see a suffering world.

A world that needs to know that they are not alone.

A world that needs to know that someone else understands their struggle and they care.

Once again I am reminded of the woman at the well in scripture.

Jesus sought her out, sat beside her, and loved on her.

He knew her...yet they had never met.

Perhaps we are so quick to hide our hearts that we miss the greatest opportunities in our lives...

To listen to another.

To pray for another.

To be vulnerable with another.

To share our hearts with another.

We tend to get wrapped up in our own suffering, that we forget what Jesus told us was the greatest commandment...


“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor :as yourself.  Matthew 22:37

Love God. Love your neighbor.

Could this be the key to our healing in suffering?

Serving in our suffering?

Loving in our suffering?

This concept was made clear in a text with a dear friend recently who suddenly lost her mother.

She is serving her widowed father in her grief. Tired and weary, yet she serves him.

While her instinct is to crawl under a rock and hide away, she tends to her daddy in his greatest suffering.

Oh, friends...

You are not alone.

Open your eyes and look out. Notice the one God puts in front of you.

Don't be afraid to share your heart, your story.

Someone needs to hear it. Someone desperately needs to feel the warmth of companionship and a listening ear.

I know I did that day in yoga class.

It was healing for my heart.

Jesus uses people..

He always uses people.

Look for them.

Search for them.

Seek them out.

Don't suffer in silence.

We were not meant to live alone.

"Now you are the body of Christ and each one is a part of it."1 Corinthians 12:27


love your neighbor,


jill








Mar 8, 2018

Fear not....

Fear.

The most horrific four letter word that I know.

Fear has haunted me for most of my life.

It comes without warning and stays until I decide to remember how to fight it.

Recently, I was plagued with fear. It kept me awake at night. It robbed me of joy.

I lived there in the fear for about a week. Then, I decided to do something about it.

I knew what to do. I knew very well the weapon to destroy it.

But, somehow, my flesh was hanging onto the fear and the lies of the enemy about this particular fear.

I found my note cards that I used to NEVER be without. Scriptures, so many scriptures. Tear stained and coffee stained scriptures that had been my weapon of destruction for years.

For some reason, I had put them away. I guess I  thought I didn't need them anymore.

I was wrong. So wrong.

"Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."-Ephesians 6:17.

How quickly we can forget.

We forget the Source of our strength when things are going well and life is peachy.

We forget to pray when life is doing okay and struggles are at bay.

We forget to give Him praise when our cups are overflowing.

Often, it is when our cups are empty, when struggles strangle us, and when life takes a sudden turn that we suddenly remember Who we need.

Honestly, I think the biggest test of our faith is how we do in the everyday ride of life. The days when things are going pretty good. It can be easy for us to get lazy with our time and devotion to the Lord. Our prayers get stale. Our words are memorized. We check off our God time and go on with our day.

We forget...

how we clung to Him when our child was sick and the doctors weren't  hopeful.

how we clung to His every Word when  we were faced with a scary diagnosis or possibility of a diagnosis for us or of a loved one.

how we clung to Him in prayer when our kids were on a path that was dark and ominous and it scared the living daylights out of us.

how we clung to Him and His Promises when our finances crumbled and we weren't sure what our future would hold.

I am reminded of Peter. Peter swore to Jesus that He would stick by His side no matter what. Peter pledged his allegiance to Jesus with loyalty and assurance.

Then, very soon after that pledge, Peter denied Jesus three times. Three.

Why did Peter deny Jesus?

Fear.

Peter was fearful for his life. He had forgotten about His love and devotion to Jesus in an instant.

Fear can make us cling to something that is not there.

Fear can make us hold on for dear life with our own weak hands instead of letting it go and placing it in the Hands of the One Who holds it all.....our Heavenly Father.

Fear makes us cowards instead Conquerors in Christ.

Friend, have you lost your way? Have you forgotten the very thing that led you so close to Jesus in the first place?

Do you still have the Sword that you used to slay the enemy?

If not, pick it back up.

Continue to slay the enemy daily. Not just when trial comes.

Listen, the enemy is always scheming. Just because you don't see him doesn't mean he's not up to something.

He is lurking. Be on guard.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Put on the helmet of salvation, the breast plate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sword of the spirit, the shield of faith and the shoes of the gospel of peace!

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword cf the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17

We must pray this prayer everyday! Our children must be armored with God before their little feet walk out the door each morning. 

We must be intentional even in the days where it seems all is well. 

Paul tells us for this very reason in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing!"

Don't let the enemy have any ground in any part of your day. As you drive, as you work, as you fold laundry, as you cook dinner...pray, pray, pray. 

The enemy is waiting for a place to enter into our homes and our families. We must not give him an inch!

Tape scriptures up in your house. Play God's word in your home all day long. Pray in your kids rooms. Pray in every room of your house!

Fill your house with prayer and with God's Word. 

Let it be known to all who enter as Joshua so confidently stated, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

I will end with the words of  David, my favorite man ever besides Jesus....


As for me, I call to God,

    and the Lord saves me.
17 
Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
18 
He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.
Psalm 55:16-18



armoring up, 

jill