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


Apr 9, 2018

Erin's Story....

Hey, SHINE friends! Gosh, I have I have missed all of you! Life has been a whirlwind...as usual.

I just have to share something with you on this rainy, bleak Monday!

My dear friend, Erin Davis, just adopted a precious baby boy, Ryan. I have been honored to be able to witness this entire process. From the moment God laid fostering and adoption on her heart [before God laid it on her husband's heart!], up until the day he was adopted, April 6th, 2018.

Erin's story is one of faith, patience, obedience, mercy, and GREAT love.

I will give you a small back story before posting her video....

Erin's mother died on April 7th, 2011. This grief brought Erin to the feet of Jesus, where she gave her life to Him.

Soon after, He stirred her heart to foster children. She decided not to tell her husband of the stirring because they already had two children. The youngest being one years old.

Of course, just like God, He eventually stirred her husband's heart.

Chad and Erin began the long journey of fostering. Never really knowing it would lead to this day...April 6th 2018.....Seven  years almost to the day of Erin's mother passing into Heaven.

Erin's story is one of beauty from ashes. A story full of HOPE.

I want to post it not just to shine the light on Erin and her family, but to shine the light on God's faithfulness and goodness. To encourage those of you in times of deep grief, sorrow, or valleys...to hold onto Jesus. He will bring something good from your sorrow.

He will turn those ashes into stunning beauty.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

Please take a minute to listen to Erin and Chad's story. It is not very long and it will bless you abundantly!

Click here for the story...

https://www.facebook.com/seeingsouthernphotography/videos/vb.1634685246774640/2052270638349430/?type=2&theater