Oct 17, 2019

The struggle is real.....

A few days ago I was visiting my daughter's high school. As I was leaving, I noticed a group of girls walking together. One of them turned around and looked me right in the eyes. I smiled at her and she hesitantly smiled back, and looked down at the floor.

The exchange was a little odd.

However, when she walked off, I noticed something.

She had a different walk.

Her legs would not straighten out. She walked with a limping stride.

She had a disability of some sort.

I watched her walk off with her friends. She looked back one more time at me and kept walking.

A soft lump formed in my throat. Tears stung my eyes.

She was probably around my daughter's age.

I prayed for her right there in that hallway.

My prayers for her were not because I felt sorry for her....

I prayed for her because I realized something in that moment.

Sometimes our struggles are physical and visible....

And other times our struggles are hidden on the inside.

The inside struggle is the one I am too familiar with.

However, this teenage girl...

Everyone that has ever watched her walk has seen her struggle.

The struggle to keep her feet in sync.

The struggle to walk in step with her friends.

Such a seemingly simple task....

But not for her.

For those of us who have inside struggles....

We know what this feels like.

We want to just feel like everyone else.

We want to be able to have a coherent string of thoughts.....

We want to be able to carry on a conversation with people....

And not feel the struggle.

Whether it be depression, or grief, or anxiety, or fear, or obsessive compulsion, or racing thoughts, or worry.....

We struggle to maintain sanity.

As my eyes met the eyes of this beautiful teenage girl, the first thought that I had was this:

We all suffer. Some suffering is visible to the human eye, and some suffering is not. 

When I left the school, I headed straight to Wal-Mart. Because, if you live in a small town, that's where you go.

As I was exiting my car, I saw a man about my father's age. He was trying to get into his car. His back was so hunched over that he could barely see in front of him to walk. His face grimaced as he took the few steps to his car door.

He was in excruciating pain. I could see it so clearly.

I wanted to run over to him and tell him that I understood!

I know this pain.

Not physically, but the pain on the insides.

The kind that makes your stomach ball up into knots and your mind feel like it has run away from you and it will never feel right again.

Lord, why are you wrecking me today?

I remembered eating breakfast with my daughter that same morning. We were cheerfully finishing our food when a woman slowly passed our table. She was eaten up with arthritis or something of that nature.

She was not very old. Mid forties at the most.

But, she struggled to get the door open to the bathroom.

I was so struck watching her that I didn't even think to help her.

But, a young man saw her and walked over to her to open the door.

I sat there dumbfounded.

I witnessed the kindest exchange between two people.

And the news stations tell us we hate each other.

I beg to differ.

What I witnessed was pure kindness. Thoughtfulness. Sincerity. Love. Service.


I asked the Lord again after remembering that exchange...

What are you doing to me, Lord? You are wrecking me. 

I remembered a prayer that I had been praying.

For my eyes to be opened. At all times.

To not miss those around me.

To see what God sees and to notice what He notices.

He was answering that prayer.

Oh friend.

Whatever your struggle is...

Whatever your suffering....

You are not alone.

He sees you.

He is also putting others in your path to see you. To pray for you. To show kindness to you.

He loves you.

Whether your suffering is visible or not...

It is always visible to Him.

Let these words from Isaiah Chapter 55 bring your heart peace. They sure do mine.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12 You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” Isaiah 55:8-13



keeping my eyes open,


jill









Oct 2, 2019

Hope Rises...

We have come to the part in our bible reading that I have been longing for. The part that many of us are a little more familiar with...

The New Testament. 

As I read the words of Jesus today in the book of Matthew, I felt like I was breathing in oxygen. Much needed air for my lungs. 

The Old Testament ended with the book of Malachi. It would be 400 years until another word would be heard by the Lord. 

400 years. 

Can you fathom?

As you know, I have been in a weird season. A season of change. Big change. 

I have sought the Voice of the Lord over and over in my sadness over this change. 

I have cried out to Him, wondering if He heard me or if He even cared. 

Honest and heart wrenching words have fallen from my lips to Him. Words have spilled from my heart onto my prayer journal. Many hard to read because they were written with such haste. 

I have asked Him to feel me with Faith. With HOPE. With Belief. 

I have begged Him to open my eyes to see the GOOD. 

God's people must have felt this way for those 400 years. They must have felt the hopelessness. They must have wondered, "WHERE ARE YOU GOD?"

With tears pouring down my cheeks, I have asked Him the same question. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I have clung to this verse. I have said it over and over and over again. 

It is certainly no accident that I am currently in a bible study with dear and precious friends studying the life of King David. 

He had every reason to be hopeless. 

Every reason to feel alone and abandoned in those early days of being chased by a madman by the name of Saul. 

His emotions and his heart is written all over the book of Psalms. 

His faith. His doubt. His concerns. His fears. His hope. His belief. His questioning. 

All of it intertwined into words for His Father in Heaven. 

Oh, can't you relate to him?

So, when Jesus comes on the scene in the book of Matthew, I exhale a sigh of relief. 

All the waiting....all the wondering...

Is the Messiah ever coming?

King David did not live to see this day....

He lived on the pre-side of Jesus. 

We have this opportunity...for such a time as this...

To live on the post-side of Jesus. 

Yes, He was there all along. 

But, the final coming of Jesus, in human form...

This is what the our ancestors from the Old Testament were waiting for. Hoping for. Desperate for. 

We have this great honor of God's Spirit dwelling in us. His Holy Spirit living and breathing inside of His believing children. 

There is NO more darkness. 

There is NO more hopelessness. 

HOPE lives inside of us. 

HOPE dwells among us. 

Our feelings will lead us astray. 

Our emotions will tell us lies. 

TRUTH defeats those feelings and lies of abandonment. 

Do you see?

We lack faith...we lack hope....

Because we are not seeing what our eyes need to see. 

We are not hearing what our ears need to hear. 

Yet, He speaks. 

Softly. In a whisper. 

Beckons us to hear Him, and to see Him. 

Hope begins with a step.

A step of faith. 

Opening our bibles. 

Even in our doubts.

Reading the words of Jesus. Over and over again. 

Until the Hope rises up. 

Filling us so full of faith and hope that we just look plain silly to those around us. 

Just like David did...as he danced in the streets almost naked worshiping the Lord. 

I dare you to hope today. 

I dare you to be open your bible and be filled with the words of Christ Jesus. 

The world tells us there is no hope. 

God tells us the opposite. 

Hope lives. 

Hope rises. 

Hope dwells. 

Dare to look different than the world. 

Dare to hope when all seems lost. 

Dare to put your last penny on Jesus and His Word. 

His Word never returns void. 


clinging to Hope, 


jill





Sep 27, 2019

Stretch out your hands....

This season in  life has brought much change. Almost too much it seems at times.

Have you been in a similar place?

You feel like if ONE more thing changes, you will just curl up in a ball on the floor sucking your thumb into oblivion.

As I was driving down the road a few days ago, thoughts were consuming my heart. I was mentally trying to control/fix the seemingly falling apart things in my life.

From one child to the next. Then on to my husband. Then on to family and friends. Then on to my own life.

I was weaving together thoughts like a seamstress trying to sew a dress with very little thread and no pattern.

Lost.

I was lost in my anxious and racing thoughts.

Then, I heard a whisper in my heart.

A very faint one. Almost too faint to hear.

"Stretch our your hands to me Jill. Palms up."

I thought this was the craziest thing I had ever heard. Huh?

I was clutching my steering wheel. A physical picture of what was going on in my heart.

Breathing out a long sigh, I opened up my hands and turned them palms up to the sky.

Immediately I felt His Peace.

It was two fold.

I felt the release of casting my burdens onto Jesus, and I felt the receiving of His Peace.

Release and Receive.

The next morning, I awoke earlier than usual. I finished my bible reading, so I opened up an email from a devotional. I hardly ever read these devotionals due to limited time in the morning.

This morning, I did.

The devotional was about the story of Jesus and the man with the withered hand found in the book of Luke.

Jesus told the man with the shriveled right hand to "Stretch out your hand."

As soon as the man did this, the man's hand was healed and completely restored.

Tears filled my eyes as I read this passage. Wow. Ok, Jesus, I hear you.

All day I thought about that passage. I would stretch out my hands from time to time when I felt the anxiety and crazy thoughts creeping back in.

The following morning I rose early again. My daily walk bible was in the car. I looked over to my right and found another small bible lying next to the couch.

I prayed before opening it. I told Jesus I needed to hear from Him. I needed HIS words. I had been in the Old Testament for a while, which I love, but this morning I needed the words of Jesus.

Slowly opening up my bible, I land right on Luke 6.

 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 

My jaw dropped to the floor. 

Three times. Three times He has led me to these words of His. 

I hear you, Jesus. 

Maybe you find yourself in a place of desperation. Of hopeless worry. Of out of control thoughts. Or ever changing situations. 

I get it. 

Now, stretch out your hands.

Palms facing up.

Release and Receive.

We may have to do this all day some days.

So, if you see me in the grocery store, or driving my car, and my palms are facing up stretched out...now you know why.


stretching out my hands,


jill


Sep 20, 2019

Unmet Desires....

"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,


jill

(re-posted from 4/13/16)

Sep 13, 2019

When all you want to do is run.....

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We have come to the book of Jonah in our reading. I can relate to Jonah so much.

God called Jonah, and he ran.

His running led him straight into the mouth of a whale.

Running from God's calling is never the right thing to do. Yet, we do it anyway.

Recently, one of my children hit a hard season.

This kid was facing trial after trial.

My first instinct was to RUN. I sat my husband down and told him that we were LEAVING this town. I was tired and could not take the battles anymore.

Every single day, I would get out my bible and pray scripture over my child. I would turn to worn pages in a beloved prayer book that I have and read them over and over and over.

Frustration set in. Nothing seemed to be changing.

I knew prayer was powerful, but I was beginning to wonder if the answer was to just run. Get away. Move somewhere else. Meet new people.

I felt like I was doing all the "right" things by praying, fasting and praying some more.

My stomach was constantly in knots. I could not eat. I could not sleep.

I lost 7 pounds...because my heart was in turmoil.

Then, the Lord spoke these words into my soul. Chills ran through my entire body as His Words engulfed my heart.

Be still. 

You are running. 

Be still. 

I will fight for your child, but you won't let Me. 

In all of my panic and fear struck ways, I had forgotten the very thing I needed most....

To be still.

To let God fight our battles.

To loosen my grip and believe with all my heart that God would fight for this child much better than I could.

My prayers of desperation were good, but my heart and mind were still squeezing the living daylights out of this battle.

Nothing could be done until I released this battle to the Lord.

Running away was not the answer.

Being still was the answer.

Resting in the Truth that He will fight for us, if only we will be still .[Exodus 14:14]

The battles we come across do not surprise the Lord. Why do they surprise us and strike fear into our hearts?

Because, we try to fight them with our flesh. We think if we pray the prayer one more time....then God will reward us with victory.

This still depends on us...and not on God. 

Do you find yourself in the thick of battle? If not for yourself, but for a loved one?

Stop fighting. And fretting. And running.

Be still.

Tell God that He alone will fight this battle...you will not step in.

He doesn't need an assistant.

He needs a trusting heart.

He needs a restful heart.

Then, His Power will be made perfect due to our absolute weakness. [2 Corinthians 12:8]



being still,


jill





Sep 12, 2019

When Darkness Swallows You Whole....

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Over the past 4 years, I have been very transparent with you about my struggle with fear. I believe it has been my biggest stronghold, yet it has also been my biggest victory. Fear has no place in my life anymore because faith could not live where fear was dwelling.

However, from time to time, a sprout of that fear comes back begging to haunt me and taunt me. Now, I have my ammunition ready to obliterate it. The Word of God.

Here is what I have learned with the enemy: if he can't take you down with one thing, he will sure as heck try to knock you down with something else.

So, I write this post to encourage any one of you that may struggle with this very thing that I am about to talk about. It's something that we often bury deep down within us because it is too messy and too ugly to even talk about. It can also be one of those things that we decide we just have to live with because we don't know how to make it go away.

Depression.

There, I said it. It is out there. For all the world to see.

I hate even typing that word. It is ugly and dark.

Yet, it is so powerful and has the force to take out any one of us at any time if we aren't armed for the fight.

The enemy loves depression because it actually depresses us. Meaning, it takes all the wind of the Holy Spirit out of our sails and sinks our little joyful ship.

It has the power to suck the living daylight out of our souls. Depression can leave an indelible mark on our hearts and our minds. Yet, we are the only ones that really know the depth of the scar because it is not visible.

Depression can come at any time. Nothing has to happen, nothing has to trigger it. It can just come out of nowhere and knock you straight down to the ground with one fail swoop.

If you are in a place where you are struggling to find joy. If you are in a place where you don't even know the words to convey to someone else to try and seek help and healing...

I have good news for you.

There is a way out.

For many years I thought these "thoughts" in my head were just normal:

"You are not good enough and never will be."

"You fail at being a wife miserably."

"You are not a good mother to your children."

"You are a terrible friend."

"You have no talents."

"You have no use here."

"Just shut your mouth because no one wants to hear you."


When the thoughts would come I would shake them off and just try to forget about them. OR, I would believe these thoughts and it would effect every aspect of my behavior.

 Finally, I became worn out trying to convince the enemy in my head that these things were not true. So, I ended up surrendering in defeat. Waving my white flag to the enemy and saying, "These things must be true. You win. I lose. You are right."

The deep dark blanket of depression then covered my entire soul. It was suffocating.  And fierce. And lonely.

I felt hopeless and useless.

Then one day....

I had a daughter.

One afternoon she expressed similar words to me that I had heard in my own head throughout my lifetime. She expressed to me some of those exact words that I had heard the enemy whisper in my ears.

I knew the pattern. I knew how the cycle would go. I had lived it my whole life. It starts as a whisper. Then the enemy has a full blown bullhorn in your ear screaming lies about who you are.

The enemy was now taunting my baby girl with those same words. Only whispers of doubt for now, but I knew the bullhorn would surely come.

Oh NO.

This was about to go DOWN.

Grabbing my bible off the nightstand, I conjured up every scripture that I could find to speak over her. I would read them night after night over her precious body as she lie asleep in her bed.

I was so mad at the enemy. So mad.

It was one thing to attack me, but a whole different thing to come after my baby girl.

Suddenly, my eyes were opened.

I could see the lies so clearly now.

I could see the enemy's tactics in the bright shining light of the Word of God being poured out over my little girl.

She is made in the image of God. [Genesis 1:27]

She is fearfully and wonderfully made. [Psalm 139:14]

She has the mind of Christ. [1 Corinthians 2:16]

She was knitted together in the womb by God. [Psalm 139:13]

Her tears are collected in a bottle by God. [Psalm 56:8]

Her name is engraved on the palm of God's hands. [Isaiah 149:16]

The hairs of her head are all numbered by the Lord. [Luke 12:7]

My eyes were opened to the fact that this was true for me too.

These words were not just for my precious daughter....these words were also for me.

Those dark days of depression could not stand a chance against the truth of His Love and Promises.

I just had to know them. I just had to believe them.

The blanket slowly lifted.

Freedom had finally come.

I never would have seen it if I had not seen it first hand with my daughter. The fight for her is what saved me from the dark.

Sometimes He uses those in our very midst to bring the healing.

He knew my love for her and fight for her would bring me to Truth.

Oh, and it did.

There are still days. Dark days where the blanket wants to smother me.

However, I go straight to my journal and write every truth He speaks over me in His Word.

I am not capable of winning the war without Him.

But...

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

If you are in a dark place today, I am praying over you. Covering you with the blanket of His Truth and burning the blanket of the enemy's lies. 

You are oh so loved by the Father. He sees you in this place. He has healing words for you. Will you seek Him today? Will you fight for your life with the One who will never leave you or forsake you?

Jesus tells you this..."The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I have come so that you will have LIFE and life to the FULLEST." John 10:10

finding Joy,


jill

repost from 12/29/15





Sep 11, 2019

Me, Myself, and I.....

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For the past 10-12 years or so I have kept a prayer journal.

I have stacks and stacks of them in a bookcase in my house. From time to time, when I am in desperate need of hope and faith filling, I look back on the pages of these journals.

Answered prayer after answered prayer.

I have also seen prayers that have yet to be answered. Or at least not answered in the way I had hoped.

Although, after time, I see the weaving of God's plan in a way that I had not expected. Often very different than what I had prayed.

But, I see His Hand. In all of it.

About a year ago, a friend pointed me to a profound concept of prayer. I had poured my heart out to her regarding a specific prayer I had prayed for many years and seemed to see no fruit of this prayer.

She changed my perspective and my prayers from her response.

This wise friend told me that instead of praying for those desires, to pray for others that desired those things. Pray for God to fulfill their longings. Pray for the people and not your desire.

For example, if our prayer is to be able to have children,  pray for others that cannot have children.

If our prayer is to adopt or foster children, pray for the children to be adopted and fostered. Pray over those children like they are your very own. Covering them with prayer from the tops of their precious heads to their little feet.

If our prayer is for relief with our finances, pray for the homeless. Pray for those that are destitute without a place to lay their weary heads at night.

If our prayer is for friendship, pray for the lonely, the widowed, the neglected. Pray for God to surround them with relationships and friendships.

If our prayer is for our marriage, pray for the marriages of others. Pray for God to restore the marriages of those around you.

If our prayer is for us to grow our ministry, pray for the ministries of those around you. Pray for God's blessing and favor over them.

If our prayer is for healing, of any kind, pray for the healing of those around you.

Y'all, her words changed my life.

They were not really her words, they were God's words.

Look in your Bibles to the Lord's Prayer. The prayer where He teaches us how to pray. Notice something...

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you,"
Matthew 6:5-14
Notice here, how Jesus prays for "us", not "me".

A simple word, "us". Yet, profound.

It's not about "me", it's about "us".

I also notice this with Nehemiah's prayer. Nehemiah's heart aches for the lost people of Israel. He confesses his sins to God, and their sins. . [Nehemiah 1:4-10]

God hears Nehemiah, and blesses Nehemiah to do a HUGE work for God's people.
So, as I look back over my prayer journal, I see a lot of prayers.

Mostly for myself.

I see a big lack of prayer for others. 

Yes, I wrote their names and asked for God's blessings over them, but I did not really intercede for them like Jesus tells us to.

I have also had times of fasting over the years. I fasted in order to receive something for myself. A blessing, a gift, something.

Mostly, my fasting was not done in intercession for others. It was for myself.
I think about Jesus on the Cross...

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do", were His Words.

In His greatest suffering, He prays for others.

May we learn from Jesus.

May we intercede for others in a way that puts our desires on the back burner.

7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:7-8

The Father knows what we need before we even ask Him. 

Let that sink in.
Could it be that in all of our groveling, moaning, begging, pleading for ourselves in prayer, we have missed the greatest thing that was needed?

To pray for others. 

Earnestly. 

Fervently.
Could it be that the answer to our prayers lies in praying for others?

Could it be that our greatest healing comes from our pouring out, sweating tears of prayer over the needs of others?

When we pray for others, God changes us. Our disposition changes. Our hearts are softened. The well-being of others becomes so important to us that we anticipate excitedly to see the answer to our prayers in others lives.
We become more like Him when we pray like Him. 

For the needs of others.
As a mother, when I see my children put another first, put their desires aside, to help or bless another...I want to bless them profusely.

I swell up with pride and want to fill any need they have because of the outpouring they have shown to others. 

Surely, our Father feels the same. 

Intercede on behalf of others. 

God will take of your needs. 

Watch and see. 

changing my prayers, 


jill


Original post 6/22/17


Sep 9, 2019

The question you need answered....

I came across this post yesterday. All of last week was difficult.

Since my son left for college, I have been gripped with questions of my purpose.

I have not even shared this with my husband. The only person I have uttered a word about this is to the Lord.

While mopping my floor last week, I begged Him to show me what in the world I am to do now. With this extra time....this extra quiet....this weird new place.

I stumbled onto something I wrote 3 years ago.

This wasn't the first time I had questioned Him about my purpose...I had just forgotten.

The story continues.

Here is the reminder my heart needed. I pray it blesses you deeply.

 Post from April  25th, 2016

Jesus, Publix, and the man-child

The story I am about to share happened two and a half years ago. I shared it with a class I was teaching at the time, but have never written about it until now. In some strange way, I wanted to keep it inside of my soul. It was such a personal and life-altering moment that I didn't want to taint it by setting it free from my heart and mind.

However, today, God reminded me of this story. I needed to hear it again. I needed to remember the lesson it taught me. I hope it will encourage you as well.

It was late Fall of 2013. I had decided to stop writing. I was tired. And burned-out. And kind of done with bible studies altogether to be honest.

I was teaching a SHINE Girls class at the time at my beloved church. I loved my time with those ladies, I loved them dearly. However, I was burned out. In every possible way.

At that time, I was writing almost every day and then leaving my house every Wednesday night to lead the bible study class. Of course, this was in between sports, kids, husband, and all the other stuff I had jammed into my agenda.

My cup had literally runneth over.

One afternoon during this burned out season of my life, I headed to the grocery store. It was a rare moment of alone time so I decided to drive and extra 10 miles to the Publix in the next town.

The drive to Publix was full of prayers, tears, and more tears. I talked to God the whole entire way to Publix. I poured my heart out to Him. I was frustrated. My writing had come to a halt, my desire to lead bible studies had diminished, my "purpose" seemed to have vanished.

The question I cried over and over to God that day was, "What is my purpose, Lord? Why have you taken the desire to write and teach away from me? Have I done something wrong? Did I write, teach, or say something not in line with Your Word? Help me to understand!"

God did not respond. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

I finally pulled into Publix looking like a hot mess. Mascara running down my face. Puffy eyes and a snotty nose. Perfect.

Still having a conversation in my heart with God, I mindlessly grabbed a buggy. When I pulled it out of the stack, I backed right into a big black man.

He was standing right in the middle of the buggy corridor holding a small black comb. People were passing by him and staring. He was mumbling something that I couldn't quite make out.

As I tried to scoot pass him, he said clear as a bell, "W-w-w-w-would you brush my hair?"

I looked behind me.

Shoot.

Nobody was there.

He was talking to me.

I finally got a glimpse of his face.

He looked like a child in the face. The sweetest face you have ever seen sitting atop a massive 6'3 build.

He looked like a man-child.

Without even thinking, I took the comb out of his shaking hands.

He bent down so I could reach his fresh-shaven head.

I combed. And combed. And combed.

Each stroke of the comb he smiled.

I was lost in the moment with this man-child. Combing a perfect stranger's big, black, almost-bald head.

A few minutes passed and a lady came and gently took the comb from my hands.

"Thank you, ma'am. He loves to have his hair combed. He is a special boy with special needs."

I immediately thanked her for giving me the privilege to comb her son's hair.

Seconds later I walked off with my buggy and almost melted right then and there on that Publix floor.

I had just had an encounter with Jesus.

I could feel it all the way to my toes. His Presence was right there in the buggy corridor. Right there in those big brown man-child eyes whose head of hair I had just combed.

Jesus was showing me my purpose. Just as I had asked Him.

It's not about writing a good blog post, or teaching a good bible lesson, or memorizing a scripture a week. NO.

He showed me that my purpose was to love His people. To not just know the words of Christ, but to be the hands and feet of Christ.

To notice those in my very path. Even in the buggy corridor at Publix.

To see what's around me instead of having my head down in my phone, or just wrapped up in my own stinkin' pity party.  

To have my spiritual eyes on at all times waiting for opportunities to comb a head of hair, or speak to a total stranger, or smile at the person next to me.

My purpose had diminished because I had forgotten that it cannot be found in myself. But in Him. In loving others. In serving others.

To be ready and willing at all times to wash the feet, or comb the hair of another.

I was so busy trying to pump myself up with Jesus, that I missed the main thing: Being poured out. For Jesus. For a hurting world. For the man-child who simply wanted his hair combed.

There is a story in the book of Mark that wrecks me when I read it. I want to be like this woman. I don't want to hold it in, store it up, and be bloated with religion...I want to give it all away for Christ's sake. Setting aside my agenda, my pride, my purpose...in order to live for His Purpose.

Be changed by the "Poor Widow's" story:

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

She gave all she had.

She walked away with nothing, but left with everything.

When I get confused on what my purpose is, I remember this day. The day that Jesus stopped me in my tracks to comb a man-child's head.

Are you confused about your purpose? Look around you. Opportunities abound. Open your eyes, and see. Then give it away. Like the poor widow. Holding nothing back.


finding purpose,



jill

Sep 8, 2019

The Waiting Room....

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It was a normal day. Hot, muggy, and I had no time to stop and get my oil changed. But, it was time. We were leaving to go out of town for the weekend and the hubs told me that no matter what I did that day, I HAD to get the oil changed in the car. [insert me rolling my eyes]

Well, since I had to sit for 30 minutes, I decided to bring thank you cards to write, and my prayer journal to jot in. Why not. I had nothing else to do in this tiny waiting room wasting 30 minutes of my day.

I gave the mechanic the keys to my car, made my way to the waiting area and plopped down. I reached down to pull my thank you notes out of my bag. As I was fumbling around for a pen, I glanced up and saw a lady sitting across from me.

Oh shoot. I need to be friendly. I need to at least smile. Please Lord, don't make me talk to her. I just wanna be invisible for a few minutes and do my thing. Please. Please. Please.

I was hoping she was engrossed in her phone. Please, let her be browsing social media or something so that I don't have to do small talk. I hate small talk. I like deep talk, or no talk at all. And today, I preferred the latter.

Our eyes met. I smiled at her. She smiled back. We said hello.

Immediately, the mechanic came back to ask me a question. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

I answered him, then he and I discussed some mutual friends we had and the local church that he was a member of.

He left to go back and work on my car, and this lady and I were left. Just the two of us. It could not have been quieter. Ugh.

I glanced a quick look at her again.

She smiled.

I smiled back and reached for my bag of goodies, and something in my heart told me to "be still."

I have a healthy fear of the Lord, not because I am super holy,  because I have disobeyed Him one too many times. I know it always works out better in the end if I will just LISTEN and OBEY. [remind me of this often, ok?]

I put my bag back down on the floor.

The conversation started.

We talked, and talked, and talked some more.

Without divulging too much of our conversation, I will just say that by the end of our conversation, I was sitting beside her, holding her hand and praying over her. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of how much Jesus loved this lady. How much Jesus had done to prepare the tiniest of details for the two of us to be in the same room together at that very time. And, for her to be unlucky enough to sit across from a crazy praying-out-loud-in-public kinda woman.

I had asked the Lord that morning to lead and direct my steps. I was hoping for a peaceful, not-very-eventful-day. He did just the opposite.

He put me in an uncomfortable place. With a stranger.

I had a choice. I could ignore the Holy Spirit's nudge to put down my phone, and my thank you notes, or I could obey and let Him do the rest.

The irony of all of this is that I needed to meet her. I needed to hear what she had to say. I was the one that was a wreck inside. My faith was wavering and I was in desperate need of Jesus to show me that He saw me, and that He could hear me. I was in desperate need of a faith filling.

Have you ever been mad at your husband, or a sibling, or a parent...and you decide to go and vent to someone? But,  as soon as they affirm you and agree with you, you get defensive over the person you are venting about. Suddenly, you take their side and end up defending the very person you were complaining about. What in the world?

This is kind of what happened here. As soon as I was met with someone who needed some serious Jesus filling, I was suddenly jumping at the opportunity to share my Savior with her.

Just days before, I had been in a serious faith funk. Doubting Thomas had NOTHING on me.

So many times I look for Him to write me a message in the sky. Or, to send me a scripture that just appears in front of me... just anything! I need to know He sees me and that He hears me. I am suddenly reminded of the Pharisees who demanded a sign from Jesus. Like, being the Son of God just wasn't enough. [I am like the Pharisees at times.]

Yet, so often He reveals Himself in the smallest, tiniest of details. The details hat I could easily overlook if I don't choose to have my spiritual eyes on.

And, it is always through His people. Always.

The man-child at Publix.

The lady at the Dump.

The lady at the homeless shelter.

The lady in the waiting room of an auto repair shop.

I just noticed something here. Notice the common thread of these stories. A special needs man-child, a place called The Dump, a Homeless Shelter, and a dusty auto repair shop.

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  1 Corinthians 1:27

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:36-40

Can I just say for the record that I had no idea how this post would go. I just felt a huge nudge so sit and tell the story of the lady I met while getting my oil changed. Friends, with the Lord,  we just have to take the first step of obedience. He will provide the next step for us. Every single time.

Our obedience expresses our complete trust in HIM. This is what He wants from us. Not dependent on Him "proving Himself to us" before we decide to believe Him and trust Him.

Look for Him to reveal Himself to you in the small things. In the lowly things, places, and people.

We will never find Him rubbing elbows with the elite. He is found sitting on the floor with His children, and washing their feet.

He told Peter, "Feed my sheep"

We are His sheep.

We need feeding.

All of us.

Look around you today. Ask God where you can help feed His sheep today. In turn, you will be fed.

Greater than you could ever imagine.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9


looking for sheep,


jill

[re-post from 9/8/16]











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