Jul 31, 2017

Who am I?

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

My children started back to school today. Joseph is in 11th grade, Presley is in 7th grade.

I was doing fine. Really, I was.

Until, we gathered to pray before we headed out the door.

We were in the kitchen. We grabbed hands.

I began to pray.

And, stopped mid sentence.

Suddenly, I couldn't find my voice. It had disappeared.

Tears were stinging my tired eyes.

My kids both asked, "What's wrong, Mom?"

I gathered my sorrow and managed to squeak out some semblance of a prayer.

The emotions flooded and I tried hard to push them back down.

"Jill, it is just another day. Calm yourself. Get a hold. Don't do this here and now."

These are the words I spoke to myself. A pep talk cheering myself to be the kind of mom that doesn't cry at every drop of the hat.

I mean, what the heck is wrong with me?

Why do I do this every.single.year?

As I pondered the why's in all of these emotions, I remembered something the Lord revealed to my heart a few years ago.

If I am not careful, I can get my identity confused with something that it is not supposed to be.

Being a mother made my identity real. Palpable.

I remember when my son was born, I felt like my life finally was beginning. My entire life I had dreamed of being a mother.

When motherhood was fulfilled, I thought I was finally living out my identity.

However, I was wrong.

My identity is not in motherhood, it is in Christ.

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

Motherhood is a high calling, make no mistake. However, Jesus Christ is our highest calling and purpose.

If I put the entirety of my identity into being a mother, I will lose my identity as soon as they flee my nest. Although they will still be mine, my role of daily taking care of them will change.

When my identity is in Christ, I have something that is not earthly and temporal. An identity that can never be shaken or taken away.

Being a mother is a part of who I am, but not the whole.

The whole of who I am is a follower of Christ.

Jesus' disciples lived this out for us.

They were made up of fisherman and a tax collector. Yet, when Jesus asked them to follow, they laid their identity's aside to follow.

Their value was not based on who they were, but Whose they were.

It is the same for us.

We can get tangled up thinking our value is in our motherhood, our marriage, our financial status, our friendship circle, our church.....

But, we will never find true fulfillment and contentment until we realize that our true identity is in Jesus Christ alone.

We must not love these things more than we love Him.

Idols can form in our hearts, even our own children can become idols.

So often I have asked God to take any desire away from my heart that leads me away from Him.

23Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

He has always answered this prayer, but not without painful severances at time.

However, nothing comes close to realizing that no matter my surroundings and circumstances, I belong to Jesus Christ. The giver of Peace. The giver of Life. The giver of Hope. The giver of Contentment.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1

By the time my kids get home from school, my tears will be dry. My heart will be mended.

Sometimes we just need to go sit in the Father's lap and be reminded of His love for us and how we belong to Him.

He is what makes us who we are.

No need to worry if you have an identity, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are identity is sealed. For eternity.

remembering Whose I am,


Jul 28, 2017

Did I offend you?

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[original post 7/19/16]

Every once in a while, I will put down all other reading plans, and just read straight through the gospels of the New Testament.

It never fails that when I do, I fall blonde-head over cracked-heels in love with Jesus again.

I read through it slow. Just one chapter a day. I like to soak it in. Each word drenching my heart with His teaching, grace, mercy, and jaw dropping love.

My heart becomes exposed each time I read. The Light of Truth pierces the dark corridors of this heart, and warms deep into the cold places.

Almost every time, I cry. I hold my bible close to my chest as if doing so will cause His Love to jump right into my spirit. Like osmosis, seeping into my pores and flooding me with Himself.

I want this so much.

He shows me something new each time I read His Word. Amazing how that happens, right?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

A verse did this very thing to my heart last week. I still hear it over and over again. Pondering its meaning and praying for God to reveal to me what this means for me.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Notice, the verse doesn't say "if you have something against your brother or sister." It says, "if your brother or sister has something against you."

I have never looked at it like this. Usually, I am praying to have a forgiving heart towards those that have wronged me or offended me. I ask for God to bless that person despite the hurt they caused.

However, look what this is saying. Go to the person that has something against you.

This takes on a whole new perspective.

Who have I wronged that I need to make right?

Who may be holding a grudge against me?

Who may have misunderstood something I did or said?

This verse really comes into play when pondering this scripture, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise" Ephesians 5:15

Are we careful with how we are living? With our words? With our lack of words? With our actions?

Are we thinking of who we may have offended or wronged today, or just focused on who offended us.

Oh, y'all. This is powerful. And so important.

We must live out our faith with the words we speak. We must be so careful with our conversations. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

We must be careful to not be a stumbling block to those around us. I believe we can even be an unintentional stumbling block. Therefore, it is so important that we be intentional about NOT being one. Because of our flesh, we are not always thinking about how others may receive our words. Many times our focus is on how we receive the words of others.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 2 Corinthians 6:3

I wonder if this is what happens to our prayer life. Our prayers get stifled and smothered due to the lack of wisdom in how we speak and treat others. Again, even if we are not aware. We must ask for Jesus to show us, to open our eyes to ourselves and see ourselves clearly. Not shadowed by pride of murky self-righteousness.

Let's take these words of Jesus and put them into practice. Who may I have wronged? Let me go and make it right!

Let not another day pass that there is friction and strife in the heart of another towards us. To really have a heart like Jesus, we must be concerned about the heart of others, not just ourselves.

We may not be able to receive the persons forgiveness, but we can receive the forgiveness of our
Father for trying to make it right with the offended. We will have to trust that God will do the work in the persons heart that we have intentionally or unintentionally offended.

Jesus is rocking my world,


Jul 20, 2017

Unmet Desires...

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[original post 4/13/16]

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires." Psalm 37:4

For many, too many, years, I took this verse to mean: When God grants me the desires of my heart, I will delight in Him.

Even if I didn't express it out loud, I viewed my taking delight in Him only after I had received my current "desire".

If we really think about this, haven't we all had conditions on our love and delight in God?

We say all the right things at bible study, we can quote scriptures off the top of our heads...

But, do we really take delight in the Lord?  Is He really our One True Desire?

I love how King David, my favorite man in all the world, states His desire for God. Read what he says to God and let it take your precious breath away.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4
One thing David wants. One thing David seeks. The Lord.
This scripture is one I have taped to anything it will stick to. I desperately want God to be my one true desire.
However, when my hopes and dreams don't pan out the way I feel they should, that desire for Him can disappear. Oh, I can fake it with the best of them. I can smile my way through church and worship and small group. I can post flowery scriptures on Instagram declaring my love for God and His Word.
But, the Lord knows my heart. He knows the wall I have created because of the unmet desire.
Isn't it funny how we think we can punish God by pulling our heart away from Him for not granting us these desires? When all along, we are the one suffering from not delighting in Him. He surely is grieving over our messed up thinking. If we only knew how much He loved us and delighted in us. If only we knew that the answer to our sorrow and our hurt was found in Him. Not the unmet desire.
Oh, y'all. This is so personal to me. I can write about this because I know this so well. It has just been very recently that God has shed light on my heart regarding this very thing.
I have wrestled with Him. I have argued with Him. I have told Him how I could not believe Him or trust Him if He did not give me this desire. I have believed the lie that He has forgotten about me. Or worse yet, not seen me at all.
When all the while, the desire my soul was created to long for, was right there all along. In Him.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:1
Our hearts can lead us astray in desires. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things..."
We cannot be lead by our hearts but by our God. By the Holy Spirit Who dwells inside of us breathing God's desires into our souls.
Any desire, let me repeat, any desire, that overshadows our love for God will never work out for our good. Ever.
We can pray for better marriages, for our husbands to pray more, to have better children, to have more money, to have more discipline in our eating, to have babies, to get married, to have a boyfriend, to meet the man of our dreams, to get that job we want so badly....
However, when we make bargains with God to attain these things, we suffocate our desire for God. Those desires, even good ones, become idols.
“You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  Exodus 20:3-4
Our hearts grow cold when our demands are not met. We act like rebellious children when we don't see the fruit of our desires.
He is the fruit. He IS our One True desire.
Can we wrap our brains around the fact that we have ALL WE WILL EVER NEED. HE IS ENOUGH. END OF STORY.
I don't put that in all caps to yell, but to remind myself. To remind my own heart of what is at stake when I think something besides Him will make me happy. It just will not. It is a lie that the enemy loves to help us to believe. A big, fat, stinking, ugly LIE.
In Matthew 22:34-40, the Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up by asking Him what the greatest commandment was. They thought He would give them an answer that they could dispute and prove that He did not know what He was talking about. Oh, they were so wrong.

34  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘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.] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Any answer besides this one could have become an idol to us. We will never ever be led astray in our desires if we Love God and desire Him above anything else. And then right below that one, loving others as we love ourselves. Whew. Talk about piercing straight through the bloody walls that encase our beating hearts.

Jesus didn't "desire" to be hung on a cross and tortured. He desired to delight in God by doing the Will of God.

THIS, is where we find the missing piece to the gigantic hole in our hearts we have been trying to fill up with all the wrong stuff. When we die to our man-made desires and make HIM our One True Desire above anything or anyone else, we suddenly have all we ever need.

Don't be mistaken, God wants all of it and more for us. He loves us more than we can even begin to comprehend. But, He wants our hearts above it all. Completely, and utterly devoted to Him.

After all, we are and always have been His desire. We were created by Him, and for Him.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

desiring Him alone,


Jul 19, 2017

The Secret Prayer...

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[original post 7/17/16]

My husband and I share many intimate conversations together. Things that we discuss just between the two of us that are special and treasured. We dream about our future, and the future of our children together. We express concerns and observations of things happening around us. This openness creates a secret and rare vulnerability between us that I cannot put into words.

These talks are sacred between the two of us. Many of the things on my heart, I have never shared with another living soul. They are meant to be kept between the bond, the unity, and the love between the two of us. When we took an oath before God on our wedding day to be submitted to one another, our spirits became one. God sees us as one as well. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Romans 8:26

Our prayer life is the same. When we approach the Father in prayer, it is a time of deep intimacy and lavish openness of our hearts to His. We express things, even if not spoken in words, they are expressed through the groaning of our spirits.The bible tells us in Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."

Jesus teaches us about the power of prayer in secret. Not just prayer in secret, but the power of giving in secret, and fasting in secret. Take a look at Matthew 6 verses 6-18. Here's an excerpt...

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

When reading God's word, hang onto things you see repeated over and over again. Make note it it, and store it up in your heart. Like a good Father to his children, He reminds us so we will not forget.

In my own personal prayer life, I have seen the power of prayer in secret several times over the last few years. Honestly, I didn't even realize the prayer was in secret at the time. These requests were just so deep and so personal in my spirit, that I kept them between the Father and me.

One experience that I will share from a couple of years ago is that of a prayer over my husband. It was regarding a trip he wanted to go on with some friends. He would be gone several days and something in my spirit just was not at peace about it. I never told him my concerns. Instead, I took my concerns to prayer.

I wasn't sure why I was so hesitant about this trip for him, but I was. I asked God to grant me peace for him to leave if His will was for Lem to go on the trip. I also reached out to three friends and asked them to please pray for an unspoken request for me and my family.

At the time, I wasn't sure of my motives for wanting him to stay home. I wanted to be clear the motives were not selfish, so I spared sharing the details with my praying friends. I just asked them to pray.

About a month later, my husband came to me and told me that the trip he was planning on going on had fallen apart. Nothing was working out for he and his friends to be able to go.

Bewildered, I gasped out loud.

I could not even believe it.

God had answered this prayer, and I knew it was only God that could have made the details come together for the trip to not take place.

I never did tell him that I had prayed about that trip. The things that God had done were so personal and so intimate and so intricate, I wanted to keep it between He and I. Also, I did not want for one second for Lem to think that I had prayed him out of going. It would have put a shadow on future trips he wanted to take with the fellas, and I did not want the enemy getting a foothold there.

I love when Lem is able to get away with his friends to hike and camp. I love it because he loves it. It makes him smile, and it makes him excited! So, not for one second did I want him to think that I had manipulated the situation for him not to be able to go.

Another time that God answered a secret prayer was one I love to share to anyone who will listen. If you have heard it, I apologize in advance.

A few years ago I was running out of my favorite skincare line. I had purchased it for myself  from some money I had received for my birthday months before. I loved it so much and I wanted to order a whole new set! The cost would be...a LOT. Way over our budget. Especially for fancy skincare.

I had rationalized in my head that I deserved to get it. I specifically remember thinking, "This is the ONLY thing I splurge on. I deserve this for myself. Plus, I will save my husband on a face lift because my skin will be firmer due to this awesome skincare line." 


I logged on to the website to order this outrageously expensive skincare. I had everything I needed [wanted] in my cart online. I scrambled for my credit card to put it all on there, praying that the bill would not come for at least 30 days. I wasn't ready for a fight with the hubby any time soon.

I began to type in the numbers, and I stopped. Conviction seized me. I couldn't do it. My husband had clearly marked our budget boundaries just that very week, and this was not even close to being in the equation.


I logged off of the site feeling sad and feeling sorry for myself.

Silently, I prayed that God would forgive me for almost stepping into disobedience.

Are you ready for what happened next?

The very next day, a friend called me on the phone.

She asked me if I would like a bunch of skincare that she had purchased a few weeks ago. She said she did not really like it, but she didn't want to go to the expense and the effort to send it all back. Plus, she knew I was a huge fan of that particular skincare.

YES!! I would love to take this off of your hands!

I was beyond elated.

Y'all that afternoon, I went to pick up the skincare she had left in her car for me at her work. It was DOUBLE what I had planned ordering online the day before. DOUBLE. There were even some items that I wanted to get, but knew there was no way I could at that time.

I was absolutely blown away. That big gold bag of skincare was a gift from my Father.

He heard my secret prayer. I didn't even really ask Him, I just asked Him to forgive me for disobedience. Yet, He knows the desires of our hearts, doesn't He?

I share these things to encourage you that the Father loves to lavish us. He loves to be one on one with you in the secret place of prayer. Just the two of you.

In my case, those secret times of prayer have built my faith stronger. I think if I would have asked a lot of people to pray, I would have missed out on a chance in intimacy with my Father. In my flesh, I may have thought that it was certainly not because of my feeble prayers that it was answered. I would have not felt the same intimacy with Him, I believe.

Please don't for one second think that asking for prayer or group praying is not powerful. It is!

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19

However, I do believe that there is a time for intimacy as well. A place and time to pray secretly those deep groans and desires. He will lead us how to pray, and with whom to share our prayers, we just need to ask Him.

I have learned in these secret prayers with my Father, that He is most concerned about the well-being of my spirit. My faith and belief are of the greatest concern to Him. More than a prayer being answered, it is about my oneness with Him. The intimacy that develops when I share my heart, my desires, my confessions of sin, and my whole being with Him. It is the power of what happens during that process that ends up being the greatest miracle. The answer to the prayer is just the icing.

What is it that you need to approach your Heavenly Father about today? Oh, friend, go to Him. Go to a secret place and pour your heart out to Him. Believe that He hears you. Believe that He will answer. 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

praying secrets,


Jul 12, 2017

Where everybody knows your name....

God uses the most random of places to speak to me. Can you relate?

This time it was at Walmart.

As I was checking out my groceries recently, I looked up and saw this beautiful girl waving at me with a big warm smile.

Sheepishly, I smiled back at her. She looked familiar. Maybe a past babysitter? Did we go to church together? How do I know this sweet girl?

My brain was empty. Nada. No recollection.

A few minutes later as she is leaving, she comes right up to me and says, "Hey, Jill! How are you? How is Presley doing?"

Suddenly my brain came back to life.

I had met her a few weeks ago at our local orthodontist office. I had spent at least 30 minutes in her office discussing braces for my little girl.

When my brain finally charged back up, she and I chatted and talked for a few seconds in that Walmart checkout line.

As she walked off, I sat in amazement that she remembered my name. And my daughters name. We had only met once.

I was struck by how comfortable she made me feel by the one simple fact that she called me by name.

It felt good to be remembered. It felt special.

I got in my car and prayed that God would help me to be more like this young girl. More in tune with people. Listening to them as they talk. REMEMBERING their names.

Our names are so precious to God. In fact, our names are engraved on His Hand.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:16

When someone calls us by name, it shows intimacy. A knowing.

Remember the story of the Samaritan woman at the well? [John 4:1]

Jesus approached her and talked with her. He knew all about this perfect stranger. She could not believe how much he knew. How could He know so much?

Because He loved her.

One of my favorite shows growing up was "Cheers".

When people walked into the bar called "Cheers", everyone said the persons name that walked in.

In fact, the theme song was, "Where everybody knows your name".

One of the lines of the song says this:

Sometimes you want to go...
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came....
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.

Oh, but isn't this true?

Don't we all have this deep desire to be known? To be loved? To walk into a room and people know your precious name and they are so glad to see you?

I know I do.

That day in Walmart. I felt loved.

I felt remembered.

I felt known.

I believe God used this sweet girl as a reminder to my heart to do the same to others.

Love others by knowing them.

Love others by remembering their names.

Love others by being glad to see them every time you see them.

What a simple way to love others.

It doesn't take extravagant gifts, or extravagant planning.

I'm so challenged to live this way.

Will you join me?

Thank you, Miranda. I will never forget you. Or your name.



Jul 11, 2017

Check yes or no...

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[original post 7/10/15]

A few weeks ago, I had to make an important decision. Basically, it was a yes or no decision. I didn't want to make it. So, I kept putting it off and putting it off until it came right down to the wire.

For weeks, and even months, I had been praying about this decision. Even after much prayer, I was still not getting a clear answer from the Lord.

Nothing was clear.

However, clear or not, I had to give an answer regarding this decision.


Here is the real deal: I didn't want to say yes. At all. I found a thousand excuses why NOT to say yes.

Saying yes would mean a big commitment. Saying yes would mean stretching me beyond my comfort zone. Saying yes would mean saying yes with a big fat bad attitude about it.

My answer came yesterday.

I was running around the track with my son, Joseph. We were about halfway finished.

I was drenched with sweat, and ready for this run to be DONE.

It was hard. Much too hard to be doing at 10:30 in the morning, sun blazing down.

While I was making a turn around one of the bends on that track, I remembered a story from the Bible. It was from Matthew 26.

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying. He would be crucified on the cross that very same day, and He knew it.

He had a choice. He could run away. He could say "no" to what was ahead. He could have easily said, "You know what, I have done much for the Kingdom. I want to just chill for a while."

As I re-read this scripture, I noticed that God didn't come down and say to Jesus "This is what you should do."

No. Jesus made the choice after much prayer in that garden. Jesus was so close to God in prayer that the choice became clear.

Jesus knew that the harder choice would lead to the greater outcome.

Jesus knew what had to be done, although His flesh was screaming in pain.

As I pondered this story of Jesus, I knew my answer.

Just like running is torture to me, the outcome is good in the end. I feel refreshed. I feel accomplished. My body is secreting toxins, and I know I will be healthier because of it.

I knew that by saying "yes" to this decision, it would stretch me. It would take me out of my comfort zone and put me in a vulnerable situation.

Being out of our comfort zone, and feeling unequipped is exactly the place He wants us.

We lean on God in these times.

We are desperate for God in these situations, because our flesh is incapable.

"His Power is made perfect in our weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

As soon as I made up my mind that the answer would be "yes", a rush of peace washed over me.

After all  of these months, praying, and praying, and praying.

The answer was just a simple, "yes".

If I am honest, I am not "thrilled" about this "yes".

But, is life about just always being "thrilled?" No.

He will stretch me. He will grow me. That will be the "thrilling" part.

I am learning that what makes my flesh happy, is not always best for me.

It's what makes my flesh cringe, that is usually the best choice.

Are you facing a hard decision today?

I encourage you to pray. I encourage you to seek His Word.

Go for the harder choice.

God will do great things through you when you say no to the comfortable and yes to the uncomfortable.

Wait and see.

just say yes,


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