Dec 28, 2017

Let it go...

Luke 23:24, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing"

Can I be just real straight up vulnerable with you? [shocking, right]

I came across my prayer journal from a year ago this very day. From time to time, I go back to remember. To see what was on my heart. To see the path of God's faithfulness.

As I flipped back to December of 2016, I stopped on one of the entries. I read it slowly.

I want to share it with you because it may encourage you. It may release some pent up stuff happening in that heart of yours. Sometimes we don't know we are in bondage until we begin to pour our hearts out to the Lord. Suddenly, He releases some long held hurts and injuries.

Here's the entry from December  2016:

Father, I forgive those who have hurt me. I release all of the hurt, rejection, anger, bitterness....all of it. When people reject me, they are really rejecting You. 

Forgive me for not forgiving. Open my heart. Slice it right open. I release all of the rejection, hurt, anger, bitterness--I lay it at Your feet and ask that You heal my heart because it belongs to You. 

My spirit abides in You. 

Father, from this moment on, I walk in forgiveness. I walk in Grace. I walk in Humility. I walk in LOVE. I walk in Joy. I walk in Hope. 

My heart is encased in Yours. It will not be penetrated by hurt and hurt will NOT change me. I am full of JOY. And Hope. And Laughter. And Love. 

I will not be afraid to express love, encouragement, kindness--because of fear of rejection. I will not self-protect anymore. God has my heart encased in His. 

Father, thank you for speaking Your words into me. Thank You for setting me free. 

I am a new creation. Created in the image of God. To live a life of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, GRACE, JOY, MERCY. 

I forgive _____. I forgive_______. I forgive_______. I forgive ________. I forgive ________. I forgive_______. 

I forgive friends who have hurt me. 

I release these loved ones to You. I ask that You bless them in a Mighty way. Pour Your Love over them-fill them with your Joy. Bless their families and give them Joy and Abundance. Fill their hearts with YOU, Lord! Let good things happen to them. Surround them with Peace. 

Lord, forgive me for holding these feelings in my heart. Lord, forgive them. For they know not what they do. 

Forgive me for letting feelings and thoughts eat at me and consume me.  

If I am rejected, I consider it an honor to walk the same road that Jesus walked. Through pain, Jesus loved and gave His life. 

Lord, I want to love like Jesus. Without holding back. 

Thank you for releasing me from these chains of unforgiveness. I am set free today. 

I hold nothing against anyone. What can man do to me? 

If God is for me, who can be against me? Romans 8:31

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13

Lead me, Father. Guide me down the path of Love, Holiness, Sanctification and Mercy. I choose You. Above all else. 

In Jesus Name, amen. 

As I read this entry, I was amazed at how the Lord had done exactly as I had asked. I was released. I had a fresh heart. I had fresh eyes to see these people as Jesus saw them.

I didn't even realize I had been holding so much inside until I released it to God.

Start this new year fresh. With a clean and pure heart. Leaving all of the baggage of unforgiveness behind.

We cannot live for Jesus if we live in bitterness and hold grudges.  It is just not possible.



Dec 18, 2017

Do you need a miracle?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  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 11:28-30

Last night, I sat in the floor of my shower for over an hour. The scalding hot water poured over my flesh. I buried my head in my knees as the water trickled down my body.

I needed a cleaning. Not from outside dirt, but from inside dirt.

My mouth had spoken words that were not grateful or holy. My thoughts had been filled with anxiety, worry and fear.

The day was spent shopping with my husband. Beginning with a beautiful church service, then off to our favorite town to shop.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt anxiety writhe my whole being. As we shopped for kids and family, I could feel the mounting pressure. I wanted to run. Far away.

I just felt the overwhelming pull of fear that what we were getting wasn't enough. It would not put a smile on the faces we were purchasing for. It was meager, or so it seemed.

My mouth even uttered the most horrible words perhaps my lips have ever formed..."I hate Christmas."

I know. I know.

What was wrong with me??

My husband turned to me and said, "What??? You love Christmas more than anyone I know."

I shrugged my shoulders holding back tears.

This is the part that I didn't like about Christmas. The pressure that I put on myself. To measure up. To do more than I knew we had. To spend more than I knew we could afford.

This is the part that I teach my kids about. Shaking my finger in their faces about the "true meaning of Christmas".

Yet, here I was...

Full of bitter gall...

Full of anxious thoughts...

Full of the pressure to give a gift that would knock the Christmas socks off of a loved one...

The exact opposite of the true meaning of Christmas.

As I sat in my shower, washing off the crud of my thoughts, and my words....

Hot tears steamed down my face.

The pull of the world was fierce.

The pull of the enemy was fiercer.

Whispers of the enemy's lies were ringing in my ears.

Your gifts will never be enough.

You will never be enough.

I began to do war with those thoughts the most powerful way I knew how...

Reciting God's Word. Over and over.

This time is was Psalm 23.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need.

Then, I turned it into these words...

The Lord is my Shepherd, the kids have all that they need.

The Lord is my Shepherd, my husband has all that he needs.

The Lord is my Shepherd, my loved ones have all that they need.

Because, somehow, I had bought into the lie that we needed more.

That I needed to give more than I had.

That they needed to receive more than I could offer.

And the thoughts of disappointed faces as loved ones opened gift that were in my "budget", made me cringe in fear and anxiety.

Was this really what I believed Christmas was about?

Do I teach my children one thing, yet act out the exact opposite of my teaching?

Do I believe that the three wise men's gift to the Son of God had the ability to ruin the whole blessed nativity?

Good grief.

I know better than to believe these lies.

Christmas is not about the gifts.

But, the Gift.

The Gift to us.

To my heart and to yours.

The present of being Present with us on Earth. The Son of all of His Glory.

This past weekend we traveled out of state to see family. One of our dear family members has cancer spots. In so many places.

He received the best news he could possibly receive this week.

The treatment is working. The cells are shrinking. A miracle.

I asked him how he was "doing". I asked him how it felt to have to wait, and wait, and wait....before receiving life-giving or life-taking answers.

He looked me straight in the eyes, his hair short and shorn from treatment, and spoke these words..

"I live in the present, Jill. I don't look back and I don't think about tomorrow. I live in the fullness of today. The present is my miracle."

I felt the air being released from my pent up, stress filled, anxiety ridden heart.

His words popped the hardened bubble of  discontent that was encasing my heart.

The room blurred for a minute. I could just hear his words, almost in slow motion.

Not really his words, but God's words to me.

The present is my miracle.

I had spent so much time worrying about tomorrow and the outcome of my Christmas gifts to others...the money stretching....the time crunching....

That I had missed the present miracle of today.

The miracle of being present.

Not thinking racing thoughts about how little time, how little money....

But, how much.

How much miracle I had.

In each moment. Full of family. Full of laughter. Full of love. Full of life.

The present is my miracle.

Lives lived looking back, or looking forward will miss the miracle.

Lives lived in the present, and in the Presence of Jesus....will be wrapped in the miracle.

Capture your thoughts today. Reign them in. Look around you. Beside you. In front of you. Lock eyes. Lock hands. Lock hearts.

Embrace the miracle of the present.

Embrace the Present--Jesus.

Tomorrow will hold new miracles. But, only if you find the ones today.

The Lord is our Shepherd, we have all that we need.



Dec 6, 2017

When you don't feel significant...

Commit your work to the Lord,  and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

This time of year always gets my stomach in knots. I get a little anxious about the new year coming up.

I reflect on the past year, and I have that gnawing feeling, again, that my life just doesn't seem significant. 

Ever feel this way?

As I was mopping my floors today, my left side started to ache from bending over with the mop.

My mind was suddenly filled with this scripture, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."1 Corinthians 10:31

I smiled and said to the Lord audibly, "Okay, God, I am mopping these floors for you."

I was reminded in that moment that what I was doing was significant. It mattered.

The world would never know that I took so much care and time to mop my floor for my family, but God knew.

I don't clean and mop because I am a neat freak. I do it because I want my family to feel loved. And welcomed. And warm when they walk through the door each day.

To be honest, most days they have no idea the things I have done each day to try to make this home a place of calm and comfort for them, And, that's okay.

God knows.

One of the biggest struggles I have is feeling like my life matters. Is important. Is significant.

Often, I get my significance tangled up with the world's view of significance.

I forget that in God's eyes...

I am significant.

And so are the things that I do.

All of it.

The tiniest details of my day matter to Him.

Do I honor Him with these details, or am I constantly trying to drum up greater significance for my own pride?

As I was mopping today, side aching,  I heard a whisper in my soul..."They will remember. Your family will remember how well you loved them. "

I almost slipped on my wet floor.

My throat started to close, and tears welled up in my eyes.

Oh, Father. Let it be so. 

When I start to feel insignificant...when I compare my accomplishments to others...

I go back to this memory....

Of being a little girl. Dreaming of the day I could have a family of my own. Driving my children to school each day. Packing their little lunches. Going home to prepare for their return...

God answered those child sized prayers. More than I could ever imagine.

It's not what we do that makes us significant...

It's Whose we are.

It's Who we belong to.

If we submit our work, toilet scrubbing and all, to the Lord...

He will make it matter. He will give us a return greater than we can imagine.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

His Kingdom will be expanded here on Earth because we chose to give our work to Him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

You are worthy.

You are significant.

You matter.

back to the mop,


Dec 5, 2017

When you don't fit in....

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14

As I sit here on my couch, blanket wrapped around my legs, I gaze at our Christmas tree. It's not the prettiest tree, by far.

It has colored lights. Mismatched ornaments. In fact, you will not find any matching ornaments on this tree. It's a jumble of color.

And I love it.

I feel a lot like this tree most days. Not the prettiest, not the neatest, and completely full of  random.

I see this big green tree dressed up in lights and crazy things hanging from it. Trying its best to fit in. To look like the other pretty Christmas trees in the windows.

Surely this tree feels out of place. This is not really this tree's home.

Have you ever felt this way?

We put on our make-up and our clothes, and our best selves. We go out into the world trying our best to just fit in. To not rock the boat. To not be too much.

When our insides are crying out to fit in. To be wanted. To be noticed. To be loved.

There is a man in our town. He's homeless. He lives in his van.

I wasn't sure for a while if he was homeless because he wore nicer clothes. Sometimes even his shirt was tucked in. His body and hair clean and no sign of dirty.

Perhaps, like us, he wants to fit in too.

My husband and I started up a conversation with him one day. He told us he lived in his van. Our suspicions were confirmed. But, I was still confused. He looked so.....normal.

When he told me his name, I almost fell to my knees. His name is David.

Of course, David is my all time favorite Old Testament man. David stole my heart in

If his name had been anything other than David, I may have easily forgotten it.

I have talked to him several times since that day we met, and something he told me recently has been weighing so heavy on my heart.

I asked him how his Thanksgiving was. He replied: "Just another day."

I had to choke back tears.

This man had no big lunch or dinner with family. He did the same thing he does every day. He sat in his van. He walked around town. Then, went back to his van to sleep for the night.

Just another day...

Have you ever felt that way?

Like, each day is just another day. Just another dish to wash. Just another bill to pay. Just another diaper to change. Just another day without a significant other. Just another day of being unnoticed. Just another day of a job that wears you slap out. Just another day at the hospital begging God to heal your loved one.

Just another day.

I remember a few years ago, some friends and I served dinner at a homeless shelter. That night, I went back home and told my husband, "I feel so at home among the homeless."

He looked at me like I was crazy. Perhaps, I was.

But, I think deep down....we can all relate at times to the feeling of being homeless. Lonely. Outcast. Forgotten. Left out. Misfit. Longing for home.

There's no need for show when you are around the homeless. No need for prettying up, or shining your shoes. You can be yourself and fit right in with the homeless. Perhaps that's why I like it.

I imagine this is how the Disciples felt around Jesus. They could be themselves. Jesus loved them anyway. They could take off their masks and fall to His feet breathing a sigh of relief. They knew Jesus loved them despite their countless flaws.

As I read the book of Matthew, again...

I imagine how Jesus must have longed for His Heavenly home.

This Earth was not His home.

Nor, is it ours.

There will be a day...

Oh, one sweet day...

When we can rest our weary heads in the Mansion of our Father.

We will fit in. All of us.

No one will be homeless. No one will be lonely. No one will be cast out.

There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

come as you are,


Dec 4, 2017

Hello Matthew...

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23

Every December, I read through the book of Matthew again. Slowly. Taking it all in.

From the birth of Jesus,  to the death of Jesus on the Cross.

I soak in the words. The story. The miracles.

So often, I get entangled with "religion" and "religious jargon", that I forget the simplicity of The Gospel. The simplicity of Jesus.

I make everything so complex with my over analyzing and over thinking every little thing. I ponder, I judge, I point out the speck in another's eye--as I have a log in my own eye.

Matthew brings me back down.

Back down to a lowly stable. In a deserted place. In a dingy and dirty manger.

Back to The Savior of the world.


As I read through Matthew Chapter One, I studied the genealogy of Jesus. The 14 generations from Abraham to David. The 14 generations from David to the exile of Babylon, and the 14 generations from the exile to the Messiah.

The names in that genealogy.

The imperfect people that led to a perfect Savior.

Only God.

I am relieved as I read the names. My heart floods with joy.

I see names of people who messed up. Over an over.

I see a prostitute's name.

I see an adulter's name.

I see a murderer's name.

You don't know how badly I needed to read this today.

My mouth got away from me yesterday. Again.

Just when I have been reading the book of James with my prayer group, and learning about the evils of the tongue.


The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6

I can vouch for this truth. My tongue was on fire yesterday. Just ask my husband.

Why is it that my tongue usually gets set on fire before church? Huh?

It was so bad that my daughter asked me, "Do you even like Dad?'

I hesitated.

No, just kidding.

I told her I did like him. Sometimes.

But sometimes I didn't.

But, I still loved him.

Still not sure if that was the correct answer to give. But, hey, I am trying.

I do like him. I do.

But, yesterday, I didn't. Ok?


So, of course the pastor preaches on the miracle of forgiveness.

Half way through the sermon, I leaned over and whispered to my husband, "I forgive you."

He choked back a laugh.

I was serious.

He didn't see things my way, so I was forgiving him.

He leaned back over and said, "No, sweetie, I forgive YOU."

I rolled my eyes at him and asked God to forgive me for not liking my husband that day. Especially while sitting in church. [eye roll]

We got back home and I was busy picking up things off of the floor, putting up dishes, and just doing my little chores when I remembered something.

I remembered how flawed I was. I remembered how dirty I was. I remember how unclean I was.

I remembered that I would not always get it right. I would have times of failure and fall into sin with my mouth...again.

The Lord reminded me of my posture  when this happens. I hit my knees. I draw near to Him and beg Him for His Love, His Mercy, His Grace. I just cannot muster up this kind of living.

I can only get it from Him.

My kids may see me spout off from time to time at my sweet husband, and I will roll around in regret for a day or two.

But, what do they see after? Do they see a heart of repentance or a heart of rebellion?

I hope it is repentance.

That's what I see as I read these names in Matthew.

Yes, they were not perfect people.

Yes, they were majorly flawed.

Yes, they did not always get it right.


These generations of sinful mistakes....

Brought forth the Son of God.

How would we know we needed a Savior unless we needed saving?

Oh, y'all. I need a Savior.

I need Jesus.

I crave Him.

My flesh wants to run away with sin--especially my mouth.

But, my soul longs for Jesus.

His Power is made Perfect in our weakness. [2 Corinthians 12:9]

God longs to bring forth fruit from even our most heinous sins.

Yet, we often cower and hover in a corner licking our sinful wounds.

We forget....

We forget of His Simplicity. His Peace. His Mercy. His Covering.

His love covers our sins. Not just covers them, but washes them away.

Make room for Him. Invite Him in to even the fleshiest parts of your day.

Fall to your knees and draw near when you mess up...again.

He will always be there to catch you.

still taming my tongue,


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