Jan 17, 2020

Fun Friday Challenge...

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Memory Scripture: Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Our reading. Can we talk about it?

Oh man. My heart.

I love Joseph.

I need to be like Joseph.

His heart of forgiveness and faithfulness just SLAYS me.

Are you still reading? It's okay if you are reading another plan. I forgive you.

See, Joseph is rubbing off on me.

Just kidding.

But seriously, I cannot get enough of the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph...OH MY!

In other news...

Since taking on the challenge to walk 10, 000 steps a day, I have had much time to ponder and pray. Being outside surrounded by God's Creation will overwhelm a heart.

With so much walking, and seeing cool things I never ever noticed, I started taking pictures of random things.

I find myself going back to those pictures and just filling up with gratitude.

Something about numbering my steps is doing a number to my heart.

This scripture keeps being played on repeat in my spirit,

Teach us to number our days,  that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

When we begin to number things....we begin to see the brevity of life.

Like, when we have birthdays. (mine is coming up, just in case you forgot! heehe)

Or, when we start paying cash for everything. You begin to realize how quickly it goes! (it is true, try it)

God's Word tells us in that Psalm that we actually gain wisdom when we begin to number things.

My son told me about a football player, Kirk Cousins, that created a tower of stones. Each month he takes a stone out of the pile and discards it. It is a reminder that he will never get that time back.

He learned this from a Sunday school teacher using the same verse from Psalm 90:12.

Here is an excerpt from what he said..

As Cousins removes a stone each month, the feel of it in his palm is a reminder of the time passing. But it's the questions that come with each stone that perhaps carry more weight.
"What impact are you making, not only today, but for eternity? What impact are you making to leave a legacy?" he says.
He pauses.
"It's just a healthy reminder, make life about other people, invest in other people, knowing that in the end, that's a life well-lived," he says.
You can find the full article here. 
What a wise young man. 
Let's put this scripture to memory. Let's hide it away in our hearts to remind us the importance of numbering.
I will leave you with a few random pictures from my phone as I was walking my 10k steps yesterday. 
How will you start to number your days? 
Sun peaking through the clouds 1/16/20


My 3rd child, Bo.  1/16/20

These boots shoes are made for walkin'...
1/16/20


The speed limit around our high school..random
1/16/20

Pretty in pink.
1/16/20


counting and counting, 

jill




Jan 15, 2020

Who's your Katie?...

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Memory Scripture: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

The following post was written four years ago. And, I still need the reminder.

Grab a chair, a sofa, a bed, some coffee, and sit next to me, will you?

I love chairs. And sofas. And beds. And coffee. And especially friends.

Happy Wednesday!


Goodbye Katie
re-posted from 1/1/16

At the beginning of every New Year, I get butterflies in my stomach. I feel anxiety come on, and it makes me feel nauseous.

It all started about ten years ago.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My family and I were in Orlando. Everyone was out by the pool at our hotel except for me and my one year old baby. It was her morning naptime, so we had come back inside the hotel room.

She was sound asleep and I had turned on the television.

The Today Show was on, and I began watching it. It just so happened to be Katie Couric's last day on the show. I loved her! I had always loved every segment of hers because she just lit up the room.

They were replaying old segments of her with the saddest music ever. Before long I was crying my eyes out in that hotel room by myself.

She was so darn cute. And smart. And successful. And loved.

Everyone loved Katie Couric. Including me.

And, well, here I was. Alone in a hotel room. Baby food splattered on my shirt. Two day old hair that still had knots in it from riding rides at Disney. Surrounded by baby toys, pink princess floaties, diapers and wipes. Impressive.

I sappily watched Katie's brilliant life being played out on t.v., while my life looked like Loserville in comparison.

She was 49 years old when she left the Today Show.

At that time, I was 30, with not a glimpse of a chance at a life like hers.

I cried. And cried. And cried.

In that moment I made a vow that I would make something of myself. Anything but who I was. A stay at home mom with stained shirts was not the life I wanted anymore. I wanted to be like Katie Couric. I wanted to be loved. Adored. Cute. Spunky. Successful. And well, just more.

 Before I could even wipe my tears and blow my nose, I heard my daughter crying in the other room. Well, naptime was over.

Back to reality.

Back to Loserville.

A few months passed and the year was coming to an end. This was my chance. My chance to make something of myself I thought.

A NEW YEAR, a new me! Yay!

I sat my husband down and talked to him about all of my big plans for the "new me".

He patiently listened. And listened. And listened.

After I spilled my heart out to him that cold December day, all he had to say was this..."Aww, you are just fine the way you are. I love you and that is all that should matter."

Thud.

Not what I wanted to hear. At all.

Words of encouragement are not his thing. Obviously.

So, as the dawn of a new year was on the horizon, a sadness came across my heart. An anxious feeling that haunted me. A feeling that made me wonder if the end of the next year would bring the same boring scenario for my life....the same old me.

With each passing year since Katie left the Today show, I have felt this same feeling. The feeling that tells me that I am just not quite enough. I need to be more to really make a difference. To really be somebody.

However, this year is different.

Something changed.

Something has settled in my 40 year old heart.

40 is a very powerful and biblical number. Story after story from the Bible speaks about the number 40. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. The rain fell for 40 days on Noah's ark when the rain flooded the world. Jesus fasted for 40 days before His teaching ministry began.

There is something about 40 that brings change. Whether it's 40 days or 40 years.

This year has definitely brought a lot of change. A change in our family.  A change in our living situation. And many more changes.

A lot of change in one year.

As I prepared to write this post, I just kept thinking of Nehemiah. I love Nehemiah. He was a cupbearer for the King. Which literally means, he brought the King his cup of wine each day. Yet, God laid it on his heart to rebuild a wall around Jerusalem to protect the people. Nehemiah was so concerned about the people in Jerusalem. They were falling away from their faith and being destroyed by their enemies. He weeped, prayed and fasted for them night after night.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:4-7
Nehemiah led a pretty cozy life. He didn't have to leave the comforts of the King's palace to go help these people, yet, he did.

He ended up encouraging the people of Jerusalem and rebuilding the wall. It was an amazing feat! It only took them 52 days to rebuild it. 52 days!

The people were amazed. Their hearts quickly turned back to God because of  one's man courage, faith, and love for these people.

Here is what I find interesting about this story....

Nehemiah didn't build a whole new city from scratch...he just helped rebuild the wall.

Rebuilding the wall is all it took for restoration to take place and the people's heart to be restored back to God.

Nehemiah didn't have to have great skill, good looks, or much education to do this great work. He just had to hear God's voice, and have the boldness to go and do the job.

There are some areas in my life this year that need a little rebuilding. A little work to repair some of the breeches.

I don't need to find a whole new me to make a difference in this world. I just need to rebuild a few areas God has called me to work on. I just have to say YES to His plan and design for my life. Not for Katie Couric's life.

When we try to design our life like another's we end up having not being of much use in God's Kingdom. He designed each of us for very specific tasks. It is not up to us to decide that our tasks are not "enough". He is the Potter, we are the clay.

What needs a little rebuilding in your life this year?

Your marriage? Your prayer life? Your bible reading? Your friendships? Your finances? Your gifts and talents?

Whatever it is, go, and don't look back.

One of my very favorite passages from the book of Nehemiah is this, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." Nehemiah 6:3

The next time the enemy whispers in your precious ear that you are not "enough". Shoot this scripture right back at him with a fiery fervency..."I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."

You are enough.

Because God created you in His very own image. [Genesis 1:27]

Imagine that.

You shine the brightest when you are who He created you to be.

A little rebuilding, a little restoration. That's all we need.

Your greatest work has already begun. Before you were even born...

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
     Psalm 139:13-16


goodbye Katie Couric,


jill

Jan 14, 2020

SHINE Spotlight...


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I have written to you several times about my 10th grade Math teacher. God used her to speak to an insecure, wobbly, and unsure girl...me. 

She has made such an impact on my life that all of my friends have heard stories about her! 

When I am not sure what to do about something, I think back to conversations that she and I have had through the years and remember wisdom that she shared. 

I could go on for years regarding the impact this woman has had on my life...but I will let you read a post she wrote here a couple of years ago. I needed to be reminded of these words. I bet you may too. 

Since writing this post, she and her husband have adopted FOUR daughters. They are well into their fifties and heard the call to foster and to adopt. 

Needless to say, we don't get much time together anymore due to her full home. Yet, still, her words and counsel to me live on. Daily. 

Grab a cup of coffee or hot tea and savor Beth's message to us. 


A High Calling
By: Beth Crowley


My husband, Guy and I had our family over recently to grill out. These times were precious to us as life and parenting have been so busy through the years. We were all approaching the empty nest stages as one by one our children were launched to colleges, jobs and marriage. Sitting out on the deck as the sun was setting over the trees, my brother in law quietly said, We did it.

Many years ago when each of us began our families and only a few of our children were crawling around under our feet, we met for dinner. We were all concerned about the times we were living in and realized that we had no idea what our children would face. We decided to pray together as families for guidance and strength to continue to love the Lord with all of our hearts, and that each of our children would have a genuine growing faith in Christ; that they would have experiences with Him throughout their lives looking back, they would realize He was always with them.

Now, here we all sat in the twilight of our child rearing days overwhelmed with the abundance of stories of each child and Gods precious faithfulness to them. They all love Him. And the stories continue. In the past 24 hours each of my children have asked me to pray for them over certain situations in their lives; it is our way. Often Scriptures accompany my prayers and I tell them that it is my absolute joy to pray for them. I want them all to always remember that their mother daily petitions our Loving Father on their behalf.

Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias tells the story of a soldier assigned to bombard the front lines while the others covered him. The soldier asked what time it was and waited... When he finally made his way through a volley of firearms to safety, he was asked about the wait. The soldier replied, I knew that at a certain time back home, my mother is always praying for me. He had confidence and assurance in the prayers of his mother.

Our children are in a battle for their lives as well. It is a battle for the heart and the soul of their faith. This battle is best fought on our knees. We will absolutely have some sleepless nights... wont you let them draw you to prayer for your family, for your children? I can honestly say that I recognize Gods presence is so close when I am praying for my children. It is what I am designed to do. It is what we are all privileged to do.

There have been some troubling times over my family; times of desperation when Ive gone out on my porch at night to cry out to God on their behalf and I had absolutely no idea how the situation could be rectified. I remember whispering, God, I dont know what to do, the way seems too dark...But something happens when you look up at a starry night sky in the quiet of the evening, and realize God is larger and problems seem smaller. I was gently reminded of Psalm 139: 11-12, If I say, surely the darkness shall fall on me, even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. God can see through the dark times in our life and our childrens lives.

I never intend to trivialize difficulties that exist in our days, but I have to say with so much love that surely there is hope! So often I have talked with women whose  situations seemed dire, BUT we serve a God of hope! It is important to share that anything is possible!

Make a lifetime commitment to knowing Christ by beginning your day with prayer and the Word. If you only start with five minutes on your knees in thankfulness, you will see your relationship with God grow through the years with joy in His presence beyond what you can imagine!  It is never too late to begin! God so wants to intervene in your familys life...it happens through prayer.

Scripture is filled with stories of godly mothers who clearly lived their faith in front of their children, leaving their influence to the following generation and beyond. But I want to share an unusual one. In Joshua chapter 2 a young and anything but godly woman was immersed in a pagan society and was a prostitute. Her name was Rahab. Aren't you thankful that however we start out in life, we don't have to end there because we serve a merciful and overwhelmingly loving Heavenly Father?

Rahab heard the stories of the children of Israel through the years but when she encountered the Israelite spies, she alone struck a deal. She would hide the spies if they would spare her and her family.  They agreed and Rahab was spared from the destruction of Jericho. But her story doesnt end there...

Imagine the changes that must have taken place in Rahab’s heart as she recognized the redeeming grace of the God of Israel. After, she married an Israelite she also became a mother. I just have to wonder when she held her little boy close, what sort of prayers she prayed. Surely she learned the ways of God; surely she was a faithful mother. For her son Boaz became a unique man, considerate, kind and accepting of another young woman from a pagan culture, Ruth. I love to think that prayers from a loving and forgiven mother deeply affected her son and those who followed.

This courageous woman, Rahab ends up in the greatest place of honor, in the linage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So God honored a pagan prostitute and her child when she valiantly believed Him. God redeemed her family line and He can most certainly redeem yours.

Clearly there are many many aspects of motherhood we might consider, but it is my joy to share some of my favorite Scriptures to pray for my children. Wont you join me as we pray for the next generation?  Wont you put your childrens names in the space?


When they are not with me...

Isaiah 54:13 And all my children will be taught  of the Lord and great will be the peace and undisturbed composure of my children.


For times of protection recite and learn the reality of ...Psalm 91.


In times of worry, replace that with crying out to God...

Philippians 4:6-8, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


When they need to understand their uniqueness to God...

Psalm 139:13, 17-18 Oh Lord, you have knit me together in my Mothers womb...

How precious are Your thoughts toward me, Oh God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the grains of sand.


For wisdom In times of decision...

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.


 In times of uncertainty...

Romans 8:35, 37-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Motherhood is a high calling and a sacred trust from God. All that we have in this lifetime, everything and every one that passes through our home belongs after all to God. We have been given a wonderful opportunity to cherish, nurture, love and pray for our children . May they delight to know and follow Christ all the days of their lives...because we ask of God through prayer. With so much love.

Jan 13, 2020

See the good....

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Memory Scripture: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14


She had no idea how much I needed the reminder.

As I opened the overdue Christmas gift a few days ago, I read the words on the mug made of tan pottery...

"See the good"

I had to choke back a thank you. It wasn't the time or the place to explain how much I needed that reminder each morning as I slowly sipped my favorite caffeinated beverage. Not even sure my new friend would understand me enough to try to mutter out an explanation.

Since the end of November I have been on this thankfulness journey. Desperately trying/forcing my eyes open to see...

To see what is often not in the frame.

The good. 

When kids are suffering at the hands of other people, when death swallows a life, when relationships just continue to get weird and sticky and foreign, when those that supposedly love you......stop loving you, when the choice to follow the narrow path leads to severe loneliness and soul pain, when people that you admire and are even mentored by take wide paths that lead to destruction, when your kids don't fit in and constantly feel left out, when YOU don't fit in and find yourself not ever being invited..or just not ever feeling...enough...

It is almost impossible to see the good.

Almost...

But with faith, everything is possible. Mark 9:23

In my own walk, I have found that faith is a daily discipline. An everyday decision of opening the eyes, not closing them shut.

To look up and out. To strain my eyes, even when it hurts to see, to find, to capture...something good. 

The longer I do this, the easier it becomes.

Faith is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets.

Things and people and circumstances can close off your heart and make you bitter. They can turn a heart of love and grace into a heart of dark shadows and unforgiving landmines.

However, when we truly grasp the discipline, the habit, the intention that Paul teaches us...of giving thanks in all circumstances, we bring oxygen back into the lungs, the heart, the soul.

We revive it from literal death.

When my children are going through hard times, when they don't understand and they feel it will never ever get better...it is so hard for me to remember this.

I want to fix it.

I want to to fix the people that are causing my kids pain too!

 Mama Bear comes out in a hot second if my heart doesn't quickly breathe in gratitude.

Thank you, Father, that I have children. (James 1:17)

Thank you, Father, that you are molding their hearts and shaping them through this trial. And MINE!(Psalm 34:19)  (Acts 14:22)

Thank you, Father, that they were born for such a time as this.(Esther 4:14)

Thank you, Father, that your Word shows us story after story of faithful and godly men and women that endured painful trials...only to come out victorious. Even when the trials were long and seemingly unending. ( read about Joseph here...Genesis 37

Thank you, Father, that You love my children more than I do! (Jeremiah 1:5)

When I breathe in these words of thankfulness, I breathe out wisdom and words of healing instead of hurting.

I have to practice it though. Every. Single. Day.

My friend Karey and I started a 10,000 steps a day challenge. We are 6 days in.

Besides helping me get in better shape, it is helping me to get outside.

To see the big, big, beautiful world around me!

To see things I so often do NOT see.

As I walk around my neighborhood, the schools, my small town....I am starting to see.

There is so much good to behold.

We just don't choose to see it.

These 10,000 steps a day are forcing me to prolong my vision on Creation. To see the trees, the birds, the expansive sky, the water running down sidewalks...sights that I have overlooked day after day and year after year.

10,000 steps are giving me 10,000 reasons to give thanks.

To see the good. 

All day. Every day.

And just in case I forget, I have my beautiful mug to remind me...






sipping and seeing,


jill
















Jan 10, 2020

Fun Friday...

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Memory Scripture: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

It has been a very long while since we have had a Fun Friday Challenge! Remember those?!

Anyone?

As always, I like to take you all along with me on my wild-brained crazy journeys! I have never ever liked being alone. Nope, not ever. (just ask my friends and family..i can be a little clingy)

So, I hope you will join me in this challenge! Walk beside me, will you? I need you! (see, clingy.)

Do you know that God's Word tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he? (Proverbs 23:7)

In other words, we begin to believe the things we are pondering and thinking on.

Go over the thoughts that have been going through your mind today.

Are they good? Are they healthy? Are they life giving?

Most of us don't really think about what we ponder on. We just endlessly ponder.

God's Word also tells us "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)

So, like it or not, the words that come out of our mouths are seeping out from the overflow of our hearts.

Yikes.

My children have heard me say this to them a million times. What we say is a direct result of the condition of our hearts. 

So, how do we make our hearts and mouths healthier? How do we become encouragers and life givers instead of naggers and complainers?

Real simple.

We take in God's Word. We memorize it. We feed it on it daily. Word after word. Scripture after scripture. We hide it deep into those long closed off and dark crevices of our heart.

We change the meditations of our hearts.

Charles Spurgeon said, "The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in the book case."

When the Word is inside of us it takes root. It will begin to blossom and flourish to those around us. God will use it to change the course of your lives and those around you.

True Wisdom comes from a heart soaking in scripture. 

My mouth can run away from me at times. My husband and my children have heard it. Maybe my neighbors too? (just kidding. I hope.)

After those embarrassing moments of mouth overflow, when my nerves and heart have settled...

I try to remember what my heart had been meditating on that day. Sure enough, it was not what it should have been meditating on. Maybe it was a worry, a fear, a doubt, a grudge, a troubling conversation...whatever the case, it overflowed out of my mouth. And onto innocent people.

When our hearts are meditating on God's Word, our mouths will reflect it.

So, what do you say? Want to do this together? Pretty please?

Yay!!

Let's start with this one:

"May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Write it down. Text it to a friend for accountability. Text it or email it to me if you are in!


We can do this!



working on my heart (& mouth),



jill






Jan 9, 2020

The Lord Provides...


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As we journey through our reading, I am once again struck by the faith of Abraham. For years, I have prayed for God to give me and my family the faith of Abraham.

I now remember why I have prayed that for so long.

Abraham is the epitome of a faithful man.

He trusted God.

We can learn so much from Abraham.

The long awaited promise of a child was finally fulfilled through the birth of Isaac. Joy filled the new parents hearts. Although Abraham and Sarah were roughly 90 and 100 years old when the promise was fulfilled, they were thrilled none the less.

Imagine how Abraham must have felt when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son only a few years later.  As in, sacrifice him on an altar...to die.

Once again, we see the faith of Abraham shining through.

His obedience astounds me.

At the very last minute, as the boy is tied to the altar on top of some wood, God provided a ram instead of the boy for the sacrifice.

Abraham named the place where the sacrifice took place, Yawheh Yireh--The Lord will provide. 

Take a sheet of paper and write that out. Yawheh Yireh.

Put it somewhere you can see it throughout the day.

It is so hard to believe this could be true some days. The pain, the loss, the lack....it overwhelms our faith.

Even the strongest of believers can get knocked right off their feet when trials come. Things seem like they will never ever be okay again.

Abraham surely felt this.

Surely, he must have begged and pleaded with the Lord to save his son. The son that was promised to him. Now, God was taking him away?

Yet, Abraham trusted God's plan more than he trusted his own.

Whew.

What if we could had that same faith?

No matter what the circumstance, surrendering it all to God, and trusting Him with the outcome.

Not too long ago, one of my teenagers said to me, "Mom, I think I have a control issue. When things don't go my way, I get angry and upset. I wish people could just do what I wanted them to do. Is there medicine for this?"

I tried hard not to giggle. I knew all too well exactly what this child meant. I loved the honesty in the pondering though, and I sure can learn from it.

We have a tendency to want to control outcomes. We want to write the story.

We don't trust that God will really provide what we really need.

Read Abraham's story again.

Put yourself in his shoes. Hard as it is to imagine...

When we give it all to Him, He provides.

When we hoard, when we covet, when we try to re-write the story....it only prolongs His will and His provision for us.

When we surrender. When we put that thing/desire that we are smothering to death on the altar, and surrender it to Him...

He Provides.

Yahweh Yireh. 

Can we be honest with the Lord today about our needs and desires?

Can we admit our desire to control outcomes, people and situations?

Surrender to Him today.

Lay it all on the altar.

Watch and wait for Him.

Yahweh Yireh. 

You can trust His plan.

His story is better than ours. Give Him back the pen.


He will Provide,


jill







Jan 8, 2020

Making a list...


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Quite honestly, I am not sure when it started. Probably last winter. Though I cannot put my finger on the day or the month.

I just know something changed.

My heart darkened.

Walls started forming.

Flesh started creeping in and taking over the parts of my heart that had been long surrendered.

Just like any kind of sin, it was subtle.

Little thoughts here and there.

Little words here and there.

My passions and desires were fading.

Complacency was setting in. As well as bitterness.

I did not like who I was becoming, but it almost felt good? Not in a good way, but more in a rebellious way.

Sin is like that, isn't it?

I began to swell with pride and simultaneously self loathing. How can the two co-exist?

Because they both are SELF-ish.

This was all partly due to the fact that change was sweeping over our little family. I could not stop the torrent of change.

The oldest was preparing for college, and the youngest for high school.

Thoughts swirled in my head. 

I have not done enough. I am not prepared for this. Who am I kidding, I am not at all what I write about or claim to be. I am a failure. 

On the outside everything looked well...on the inside, I was a well of emptiness.

Doctor visit after doctor visit...all concluded I was "fine".

But, how can I be fine? My heart feels like it's been replaced by something else. Replaced by a ticking clock...haunting me with every tick and tock.

I was hardly praying.

I was reading God's Word, due to habit, but my heart was far removed.

The darkness was real.

I had no hope anymore. My always glass half-full heart was now bone dry.

The teenager that I mentor began to spiral....

I took that as a sign that I was once again....not doing enough. 

Not cut out for this role as mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, mentor....

Three family members quickly taken off the face of the Earth did not help my heart.

Or at least that is what I thought.

It could have sealed the bitterness...sealed the envelope that I had been holding-- God is not that good.

Yet, something just the opposite happened.

Gratitude started to set in.

When I thought of their faces and their family members...

I became thankful.

When I sat at the funeral, staring at the light coming through the stained glass...I felt it start to settle in.

Bizzare as it seems, death can do that to a heart.

God can bring beauty from ashes.

When you lose something or someone, you begin to realize all you have.

Slowly, each morning as I began to wake nearing the end of November, I began to say thank you. 

It began as a whisper in a tired voice.

It has become my daily song. 

I have clenched the steering wheel hard, turned up my palms to heaven, and said thank you more times than I can count in the past months.

I have watched the boy drive off in his small silver Honda headed back to school, and looked up Heaven and said, thank you.

Bitterness will rot your soul.

I can attest to that.

It will make you think things, and say things, and do things....that wreck holy ground. Wreck relationships.Wreck a heart.

Just like anything else in my life, I need written words to make it stick.

I began to once again devour God's Word like water trickling in a desert of parch. Not out of habit this time, but out of pure thirst.

I began to grab pen and paper and write down beauty around me...the steam from my hot tea, the crumpled sheets on my daughter's bed, the red bird looking square at me out the window right this very moment...

This was taught to me years ago by my favorite writer and mentor, Ann Voskamp. I had just....forgotten.


Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. This is God's Will for us in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

He was not wrong.

How else are we to enter the Holiest of Holies without giving thanks?

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

The gates of pride, of bitterness, of self loathing, of anger, of discontent...

They remained walled around us until we walk through the gate of Thanksgiving.

Could it be that thankfulness is the cure to our ailments?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7


I am on a journey.

A journey of thanksgiving.

Every morning, every mid day, every afternoon, every evening before my eyes close...

I will give thanks.

Do you need a heart transplant as well?

I challenge you to join me on this journey.

Grab a notebook and start penning down what you see. Your eyes will stay open to Him when you begin to notice. Eyes open, heart open.

Always giving thanks. Over and over.

It is impossible to feel two emotions at the same time. They come, one by one.

Fill the worry, the anger, the pride, the whatever the sin--with thanksgiving. 

Let it take root. The tiniest seed will sprout into a fuller heart--a fuller life.

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” Ann Voskamp



keeping my notebook of thanks in hand, 


jill

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