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