Apr 8, 2021

Joseph's Story...

 Two weeks ago my college boy son came home for the weekend. It is always wonderful to see his sweet face and to soak in his presence. 

When he walked through the door, I could tell something was off. It's that momma discernment kind of thing. I just knew something wasn't right. 

He has been taking a religion class at school. It has been tough on him. He is learning about different religions and it has been confusing him and rocking his faith. We have had many discussions, which I feel very ill equipped for. 

I have dreaded the hard questions he asks me and his father, and I have begged and pleaded with God to give us wisdom to help answer some of his questions. 

Joseph, my son, is a deep thinker and has a very academic mind. I, on the other hand, have a very child like faith and have a hard time with apologetics and deep theological conversations. But, I have been praying my way through these hard talks with him. Blundering at times it seems. 

Joseph pulled me aside that weekend and shared that he was really, really struggling. He said he was in a very dark place with his faith. He said he was begging God to reveal Himself to him. In some way, in any way. Just a sign, a sliver of hope to cling to during this dark season. 

My heart sank. I felt like I could just melt into the crevices of our hardwood floor. I wanted to go away and not face this. It was hard seeing my boy struggle and to see the light escape from his green eyes. 

That Sunday, he left to go back to college. 

He texted me the very next day and asked me to please pray that God would help him and reveal Himself to him. With a very heavy heart, I agreed. 

The next morning, I sat down and spilled my heart onto the lines of my prayer journal. I was desperate for God to help Joseph. I was frustrated because my son had taken this class to help strengthen his faith and to equip him to witness to others with different faiths. It seemed to be doing exactly the opposite. 

It was Holy week of all weeks. I decided to fast that week as well. Not only because of my need for God to help my son, but for my own heart and weaknesses. I needed Jesus and I needed faith just as much as Joseph did. 

On Wednesday, I had not heard from my son. I decided to text him around 9:00 pm. 

Immediately he responded with this, " Mom, I have the most amazing God story to share with you! I will call you when I get back to my apartment."

My heart fluttered. My palms were sweaty and my mind raced with anticipation. 

An hour goes by. Still no phone call. UGH. 

Finally, around 10:30pm, he calls. 

He shared his story...

"Mom. You have to hear this! God answered our prayer!"

I immediately put the phone on speaker so that Lem could listen as well. 

Joseph told us he had been invited to Wesley at the UGA campus. It is a Christian fellowship gathering offered on Wednesday evenings. 

He had not been to Wesley in a year. He had been attending another Christian fellowship offered the last few months, but had not even been to that one in a few weeks. 

A few friends invited him that night to go with them and he agreed, half heartedly. 

He went on to tell us that it was a good sermon and he gleaned much from it. 

However, at the end of the message,  a young college girl, one of the leaders of Wesley, went to the stage. 

She cleared her throat and spoke these words, "I have to share something on my heart. It may sound crazy and I may not even be hearing the message correctly, but I have to be obedient to The Lord right now.......Is there a Joseph here??"

My son immediately looked around at the crowd of 75-100 kids, and saw no one else answer...so, he raised his hand slowly and said, "I am Joseph."

He then walked up to the stage to where the girl was standing. 

She continued, "God has been stirring my heart this entire service to tell you that He sees you. You are not alone. He sees your struggle and the enemy is trying hard to disrupt your faith. Stay rooted in God's Word and stay strong in your faith. God is with you, Joseph. He hears your prayers and He goes before you. He has a plan for your life and the enemy is trying hard to distract you. God is with you, Joseph."

My son was in awe, standing there completely shaken to the core. 

He then walks back to his seat. His dear friend, Hannah, is crying her eyes out. She knew Joseph's recent struggle and she too had been struggling with her faith. 

At the end of the service, Joseph walked up to the girl that gave him the message. He thanked her for being obedient and bold in standing up on that stage not knowing if she was even hearing correctly from God. She did it anyway. She risked humiliation, yet she still obeyed God. 

As I am soaking in the story over the phone, I am completely in awe of the magnitude of God. The intimacy of God. The mercy of God. The love of God. 

He heard our prayers. And He answered them. 

I was praying that God would just help Joseph do well on his biology test in hopes that it would bolster Joseph's faith. 

But....

God did IMMEASURABLY MORE than I hoped or asked for. 

Never, in a million years, did I imagine Him speaking to Joseph and revealing Himself to Joseph in that way. 

A few mornings later, I came across my prayer journal entry the morning before this happened. 



He hears our prayers, sweet friends. Keep asking. Keep praying. Keep believing. 

He will do immeasurably more. 

I took Joseph to lunch a few days later. The light was back in his green eyes. His face was glowing like a 10 year old. I had not seen that lightness of spirit in him for so long.

God had restored his faith. 

And mine. 

I have told this story to everyone that will listen. Joseph has shared it as well. 

Friend, do not give up. Ever. 

He sees you. 

He hears you. 

He loves you. 



forever changed, 


jill



Mar 26, 2021

Stop running...

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

 As the hammering and sawing and drilling persist, I want to run far far away. 

Our bathroom is being renovated and I am about to lose my mind. 

The dust is unbearable. The noise is unimaginable. The mess is unending. 

I keep peeking in that little bathroom each day to see the progress being made. 

Each day, I just see a big ol' mess. Dust, wood, nails, plumbing lines....oh my!

Since the project began last week, I have left my house each and every day to stay away from the noise and dust.

Finding errands to run, eating lunch with old friends, visiting with my mom over and over....anything to avoid being here. 

But today...

Instead of running, I find myself in the basement. Hammer still making that nerve racking sound, I find solace on our basement couch. 

The Lord spoke to my heart as I sat down and became still. 

He pointed out my tendencies to run. 

Running when things get hard. 

Running when work needs to be done on my heart. 

Running when I know I need to sit, be still, and rest. 

Running when I get uncomfortable. 

Run, run, run. 

He sweetly reminded me that the bathroom would be finished soon and that I would enjoy for many years the renovation of that little space. 

He also reminded me that before the beauty can begin, the renovation has to proceed. 

Sitting snug on this couch, I close my eyes and let out a long sigh. 

I picture the Cross. 

Hammer hitting nail into wrist...

Hammer hitting nail into feet...

Horrible, messy,  painful. 

I think of Jesus' very own mother watching close by. 

How did she not run??

How did she have the strength to sit there watching this hammering, listening to the cries of her Son, listening to the spew of words from those torturing Him...

How?

Mary knew. 

Mary knew the beauty was coming. 

She knew this was not the end.

She knew that the pain and the suffering and the cries would have to happen before the best part of the story could happen. 

The part of the story that forever changed my heart and your heart. 

The part where Jesus is resurrected without a blemish on his body. 

The part where we can be reconciled to Him forever. 

Mary knew. 

When my children are struggling, going through hard times and difficult seasons....

I want to run. I want to pull them up and carry them and take away their pain as we flee. 

However, I remember Mary. 

She never fled. 

She sat still. 

She watched. 

She prayed. 

She never ever left the scene. 

Are you in a season of doubt, hopelessness, grief, suffering?

I get it. 

How are you dealing with the pain?

Let's learn from Mary. 

She was unwavering in her faith. She knew that beauty was just around the corner. She was not about to run away and miss it. 

My bathroom will be finished soon. 

It will always be a reminder that the mess was worth it. 

The loud hammering, the constant in and out of dirty boots...

It led to a pretty space. A space to bathe and relax and get ready for the day. 

The mess will be worth it. 


no more running, 


jill




Mar 15, 2021

Drunk on prayer...

 As we come to the book of 1 Samuel in our reading plan, I have to stop and let it all soak in. 

If you have drifted off in your reading, or perhaps not reading at all, now is a good time to hop on the reading plan with us!

It is getting good. I mean, all of God's Word is good, but, it is about to be take your breath away, cannot put the Bible down kind of good!

Eek!! 

Today we read about Samuel. Oh, Samuel, Samuel, Samuel. 

Hannah prayed for a child desperately. She prayed so fervently that the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk!

Have you ever prayed like that?? Oh, I sure have and it is not a pretty sight. 

As she (Hannah) kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk  and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.  Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:12-16

Does your heart just ache for her, or what? Ahhh. I want to hold her close and tell her that her story is about to change. That God is about to do something so BIG that she will never ever be the same!!

Eli, the priest, follows up with these words...

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:12:17

The Lord answered her on-the -knees, swollen eyes, raspy screaming cry for a child prayer. 

He answered, just as Eli said He would. 

Samuel is born to Hannah, and the foreshadowing of  Jesus unravels. 

Samuel ends up being the last Judge of Israel and anoints the first two Kings...Saul and David. King David is in the lineage of Jesus!

As a child, Samuel grows up under the tutelage of Eli. 

God calls to Samuel in the middle of the night, and it takes 3 times for Samuel to realize it is actually God calling Him. 

I get chills every time I read Samuel's words..

"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10

Samuel is a great prophet and God uses him to begin the pathway to the birth of our Savior,  Jesus Christ. 

However, without the prayers of his mother, Hannah....Samuel may have never been born. 

Hannah never gave up. 

Hannah kept praying. 

Hannah pressed on. 

Hannah did not care what others thought of her as she wailed out to God for a child. 

Hannah promised God her child. 

Hannah delivered on that promise. 

God blessed Hannah with more children after Samuel.

But, Samuel is the one that God used to foreshadow the coming of Jesus...

Hannah played a huge role in the life of Samuel. 

I think of my own role as a mother. 

This job of endless duties, constant serving, unnoticed work, and faced pressed to the floor prayers...

Could it be that God uses mothers in mightier ways than we could ever dream or imagine?

Oh, I believe it to be true with all my heart!

Sometimes it seems like we will never ever see fruit from these long days, the hard parenting decisions, these constant begging God for answers and wisdom prayers.

Just yesterday I was in my car praying the same prayer over one of my kids for the billionth time it seems. Lord, it just seems so...monotonous at times, I cried out to Him. 

Then, this morning, I read about Hannah. 

Such HOPE. Such PERSEVERANCE. Such PRAYER. 

Hannah never stopped praying for her hearts desire. 

I want to be like Hannah. 

After reading about Hannah and Samuel, I grabbed some notecards and wrote some scriptures on them and dated them. 

I tucked them underneath my daughter's bed, in between the mattresses. 

These scriptures are the cry of my mother heart over her life. 

I remember doing this when my kids were little. When they were fearful of the dark...

I tucked scriptures of faith underneath their mattresses. I played a little CD of scripture songs softly in their adjoining bathroom. 

God's Word will never return void. God's Word is the Sword of The Spirit, slaying lies of the enemy. I want that tucked underneath their bodies as they lie down to sleep each night. 

Reading about Hannah reminded me of the power that God has given me as my children's mother. Power to pray over them. Power to speak Truth over them. Power to fight on their behalf when the enemy is relentlessly trying to win their hearts. 

It may seem monotonous many days. This praying and reading scripture and praying some more. 

Oh, but one sweet day, we will see the budding of fruit. We will see the full blown harvest if we keep on persisting in our prayers...I believe it to be true because God tells us over and over to keep on praying. 

Pray without ceasing 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22


learning from Hannah, 

jill






Mar 11, 2021

Waiting Room...

 I read something recently that grabbed my attention and has not left my thoughts.

The article was explaining that our modern culture is the first culture in history that has valued youth over age. 

This certainly is true. So much attention is placed on women to look younger, feel younger, act younger. All of the models, actresses, and anyone in front of a camera is groomed to appear younger and more vibrantly youthful. 

Anyone not like the way they look a with a softening filter app to enhance the picture?? Be honest. 

It is pressure. The older I get, the more I feel it. 

God and I have many conversations about this. Lord, just let me grow old gracefully and with JOY. Even when I do not recognize my face in the mirror, let me smile because I will, Lord Willing, be full of much more wisdom! 

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days. Job 12:12

With all of this said, there is so much to learn from the aged. I could sit at the feet of many, many dear loved ones that have passed and that are still around here on Earth. 

Their wisdom is just unmatched. 

Yesterday, in fact, I was sitting in a podiatrist waiting room. 

(I have been having foot pain for years and I finally decided to have it seen about. See, I have some wisdom to gain still. A whole lot!)

I was by far the youngest patient in that waiting room. 

Surrounded by sweet elderly folks, I began to lean in to listen to some of their conversations. 

I will never forget something I heard. 

A lady was expressing compassion for loved ones that were not able to see their family members in nursing homes due to Covid. 

She was shaking her head and saying that those poor people were left alone wondering where their family members were. 

The lady then began to tell a story about her very own husband. He is in a nursing home, a Veteran. 

She said she has not seen him in months because they are not allowing visitors. She slowly began to soften her voice and whisper that he must wonder where she is. His mind was not good and he probably kept forgetting that she was not allowed face to face visits. 

She turned her face to the floor and wiped her eyes. 

Clearing her throat, she looked back up and looked up into the ceiling, almost as if she were talking to the sky. 

This is what she said: "It's funny. The old song I learned back in elementary school is what I cling to these days. You know, the one that says, "He's got the whole world in His Hands...."

Her voice trailed off as she whispered the words to the song. 

I swallowed hard and sat there still and quiet in that waiting room feeling like God had just spoken. 

Perhaps, He did. 

He speaks. 

Let's listen. 

Especially to the older generation. They have so much to say. So much to teach. 

Wisdom oozing out of their hearts and mouths. 

I am desperate for drops of that wisdom. The world is desperate for that wisdom. 

What is stealing your peace? What is taking your joy?

Maybe we just all need to sing a few verses to this old bible school song...and let His Peace wash over us.

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

He’s got the whole wide world in his hands.

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

 

He’s got the wind and the rain in his hands.

He’s got the wind and the rain in his hands.

He’s got the wind and the rain in his hands.

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

 

He’s got the little bitty baby in his hands.

He’s got the little bitty baby in his hands.

He’s got the little bitty baby in his hands. 

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

 

He’s got you and me sister in his hands.

He’s got you and me sister in his hands.

He’s got you and me sister in his hands.

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

 


He’s got ev’rybody in his hands.

He’s got ev’rybody in his hands.

He’s got ev’rybody in his hands.

He’s got the whole world in his hands.


still singing, 


jill





Mar 4, 2021

Lukewarm...

 Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

As I read through the Old Testament, now into the book of Joshua, I see a clear theme. 

Obedience. 

Even the greatest bible men and women struggled with it at times. 

Abraham. Jacob. Moses. Joshua. 

These men were so very faithful to God, yet, at some time or another they partially obeyed God in a situation. 

Partial and/or delayed obedience...is not obedience. 

I have learned this the very hard way. 

There have been times that I have felt the conviction of a certain sin...but I put off fully obeying God in that area. I would convince myself that it wasn't "reasonable" to be able to fully obey, so it would be just fine if I delayed and/or partially obeyed Him in that area most of the time. 

We, as a church, as His people, have gotten very lukewarm. We are passionate and loyal to many causes...except the One that desires our loyalty the most....God. 

Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

We are lukewarm, at best. 

Many times we say all the godly and right things, we check off our missionary duty list, we have our 5 minute quiet time...but our hearts are not surrendered. 

We convince ourselves that it is just too hard. Certainly God doesn't expect all of our obedience. He should be happy with what we can give Him and not ask for so much of us. 

Herein lies the problem. Due to prideful hearts, we negotiate with God. We try to make deals with Him to lessen the work of true surrender and discipleship. 

Can I just be really honest?  Many of us are failing at being His disciples. Many of us parents are failing at raising up a generation of disciples. Because it is just too....hard. 

The Truth is murky these days. We have no center of Purpose or Gravity. We just do what we feel like doing...quoting scripture along the way. 

We make our own rules. We set our own standards of holiness. We are lacking God's wisdom desperately. 

As parents, we have become very lackadaisical with our very own children. Often our children are ruling the roost, having their way and their say...whether we ever realize it or not. They are posting pictures and words on social media that would sicken a mother's poor heart and break it into pieces. 

Yet, we just do not bother to check on them. To monitor their devices or their social activity. 

I have heard many parents say, "My kid needs privacy. I trust them."

Gosh, we need wisdom. 

Teenagers are not capable of making sound decisions because their little brains have not fully developed. They do not yet have foresight to see consequences of certain behavior. 

Their consciences are still being formed and molded as well. That is why we can see a very strong sounding Christian teenager on stage being a leader at a church event, and then by the weekend they are posting pictures of their heads hung over toilets partially clothed at a party. 

They do not yet comprehend the dire consequences of disobedience. 

However, as parents, we know the consequences of sin. We have lived it and we know it is real. 

We have the knowledge and the ability to teach and guide our children...but so often we just don't. 

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Our culture today defies obedience. Our culture believes that we should do what feels right. Our culture does not prize wisdom, obedience, or honoring authority. Our culture scoffs and mocks holiness. 

Our children are being taught to love themselves. To put themselves first. To make themselves popular and well liked at all costs. To be crafty and mischievous. To love pleasure and leisure over discipline. 

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Lord, forgive us. We are unknowingly failing as parents. I will be the first to admit my own failures. 

We must sober up and wise up. 

Our children's lives are on the line. 

Today, let us repent. Let us ask God for wisdom. Let us fall to our knees and ask Him to help us be obedient. 

Our children will see us. They will learn from us. They are always, always watching us. They see more than we think they do. Yes, it is a hard and holy calling. No one has ever denied this. 

But, He is Faithful. He will help us. He will lead us. He will guide us. We must be willing to obey Him. At all costs. 


repenting, 


jill









Feb 25, 2021

Oh Mother...

 There it was. Spelled out in big bold loopy black letters. My own handwriting, sure enough. 

"Pray more. Say less."

God had given me this Word one week ago today. I had prayed the words out loud. I had begged God to help me live those words. Pray more, Jill. Say less, Jill. 

A few days later I knew exactly the purpose of His Words to me that dark and early morning snuggled on my couch nursing a hot mug of coffee. 

Knee deep in a conversation with one of my children, I felt the urge to speak out my thoughts on a particular dilemma they were facing. 

I quietly prayed for Him to give me words...He didn't. 

He reminded me to pray instead of say. 

Let me tell you...it was the hardest two minutes of my life. Holding back words. Holding back my opinion on the situation. 

However....

I felt peace. I knew I was to say less. I knew I was to pray more. 

As a mom of teenagers, I do find that talking less and praying more reaps better fruit. 

When my babies were small, talking, talking, teaching and more teaching with my words was important. 

However, as they grow up, I see the discipline and the reward of a quieter life through prayer over them. 

It is not easy some days though! Sometimes I just want to tell them ALL OF MY THOUGHTS whether they want to hear them or not!

I go back to the words of Samuel....some of my very favorite words in scripture. 

"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10

Often, I say these words to The Lord. I desire to listen, instead of talk all of the time. 

I want to do the same to my people. Listen more. Talk less. Pray more. 

As a communicator, it does take much discipline. I love stories. I love to talk. I love to share. I love to offer advice. 

However, I am seeing the greater fruit in listening. In quieting my mouth and going to prayer instead. 

Through the years I have written out particular scriptures to pray over my children. I recently did this again to help me in my prayer time. To use His Words instead of mine when praying over them. 

I will share some of them in hopes of encouraging you in your own motherhood journey. Many times,  I just don't know how to pray for a certain situation my kids are facing. I don't have the words because my heart is overwhelmed for them.

 God's Word does all of this for us! His Words are Truth. His Words are Peace. His Words are Wisdom.

Here are a few I have been praying over my teenagers...

For He knows the plans He has for my children, declares The Lord...plans to prosper them and not to harm them , plans to give them a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Lord, help them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

The Lord Himself watches over my children! The Lord stands beside them as their protective shade. The sun will not harm them by day, nor the moon at night. Psalm 121:5-6 

Lord, Don't let my children be selfish, not trying to impress others. Let them be humble, thinking of others better than themselves. Let them not look out only for their own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Phil 2:3-4

For God has not given my children a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7

Let my children rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything let them give thanks to You! For this is God's will for them in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Lord will perfect that concerns my children...Psalm 138:8 (my favorite one to pray right now!)

Lord, teach my kids to number their days, that they may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

May the Lord bless them and keep them; may the Lord make His face shine upon them and be gracious to them. May the Lord turn His face toward them and give them peace. Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord is my children's Shepherd, He is all that they need. Psalm 23:1

Lord, may my children be successful everywhere they go; and may an entire generation of godly people be blessed through them. Psalm 112:1-2

Oh, Lord, contend with those who contend with my children. Fight against those who fight with them. Psalm 35:1 (I probably recite this one in my sleep!)

Greater is He who is in my children, than he who is in the world.  1 John 4:4

Let the fear of The Lord teach them wisdom, humility precedes honor. Proverbs 15:38

Lord, let them always pray and never give up! Luke 18:1

Establish the work of their hands, Lord. Psalm 90:17

Lord, let my children give their burdens to You and You will take care of them. You will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

Father, give my children a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God! Psalm 40:3

Help my children to guard their hearts, Lord, for it determines the course of their life. Proverbs 4:23

Lord, let my children avoid all perverse talk, staying away from corrupt speech. Help them to look straight ahead and fix their eyes on what lies before them. Proverbs 4:24-25

Surround my children with godly friendships, Father. Iron sharpens iron. Proverbs 27:17

Father God, when things are hard and there seems to be no possible way, let them remember that You are The Lord their God, and you opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. You will do the same for them! Isaiah 43:16

Lord, let my children be still and know that You are God. Psalm 46:10

May my children live by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Whether my children turn to the left or to the right, let will hear God's Voice saying..
"this is the way --walk in it. " Isaiah 30:21


I feel peace just typing these w ords of Truth out here. I trust Him with my children. I will let Him have His way with their hearts. His way is better!

 My job is to pray. 

My friend Kelli recently gave me the most sobering and holy advice...

She told me that she often prays for God to do whatever it takes to draw her children's hearts to His. 

Wowzers. 

That is a hard prayer to pray. But goodness gracious...what trust it shows to pray this prayer!

We can trust Him with our children. No matter how old they are...they belong to Him and He desires their hearts!

It is so hard to remember this when they are struggling and suffering. However, we  must keep this perspective at all times. He uses the hard times to strengthen their faith and to draw them to His loving embrace. 

I never want to get in the way of this. I want to step back, quiet my mouth, and pray. 


saying less and praying more, 


jill







Feb 19, 2021

When you feel like you suck...

For the past few weeks I have been in this downward spiral of guilt. 

Feeling guilty for not being a great wife. 

Feeling guilty for not being a great mom. 

Feeling guilty for not being a great friend. 

Feeling guilty for not being a great daughter. 


The list goes on for days.

Making up my bed recently, I begged God to forgive me for being so sucky lately. 

Seriously, do you ever feel this way? Do you ever feel like you have someone whispering in your ear...

"You literally suck. Can you do anything right?"

Well, my friend Christa recently pointed out that we actually do have someone whispering this into our ears. The enemy--Satan--The accuser. 

God's Word names Satan "the accuser of our brothers and sisters" in Revelation 12:10

God does not make us feel sucky and guilty. NO. 

God gently convicts us and points the way for us in His Word. He is not standing over us with His big arms crossed just shaking His head at our suckiness. NO. 

God's Word so lovingly tells us...

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." Jeremiah 31:3

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

I could post scriptures for days about God's tender love and care for us. How He longs for us to see what He sees in us. 

So, why do we forget?

 Like my friend Erin said. "Why is the enemy's voice so loud and clear, yet we struggle to hear God's voice?"

Whew. Sit on that one for a minute. 

Friend, we must seek His Voice. We must listen for Him above all of the distractions and all of the enemy voices telling us how much we suck. 

The enemy's voice will actually begin to depress us. Literally, press our spirits down. We will be miserable and self-loathing. 

The enemy wants us to focus on self. 

God tells us to focus on Him

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

The next time we feel like we suck, let's tell the enemy and his taunting accusations to flee! Let's go to God in prayer and in His Word to find Truth. 

I am so grateful for friends to remind me that satan is an accuser. He will accuse you of anything and everything. He is a LIAR. 

If satan has been accusing you for a long time, I beg you to pray right now and ask God to help you tune out the enemy's voice. Tell God that you are not believing anymore of satan's lies. 

You are made in the Image of God. You are treasured, chosen, adored, and loved. 

No matter what the enemy is accusing you of, here is the Truth of the matter...

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11


satan sucks, 


jill





Feb 4, 2021

Who do you follow?

 "Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me."

Luke 9:23


Jesus spoke these words to a crowd of people as He prepared them for his upcoming death. He told them that He would "suffer many terrible things", and be "rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law". [Luke 9:22]

As we know, all of these things did happen. He was persecuted, rejected, mocked, beaten, spat upon, and then hung on a cross until He took His last breath. 

We also know the good news. He arose from death 3 days later perfectly intact. Just as He said He would. 

I have been pondering what it means to follow Jesus, to really follow Him. 

In His own words He says it looks like this:

-Turn from your selfish ways
-Take up your cross daily
-Follow Me

We must be careful not to water down these words, or only apply the things He says that are "comfortable" for us. Also be careful of anyone teaching anything contrary to the words of Jesus. Study His Word. Get in there on your own and check out His Truth. Don't just take what you hear to heart, hold it up to the Word of God. He will shed light on the Truth. 

Let's break this teaching down of following Christ...

Turn from your selfish ways: 

Who am I seeking to please each day? Am I striving to make my name great, or God's? Am I willing to deny my time, my comfort, my pleasures, my money, my reputation...in order to follow Christ?

Am I concerned over what people are thinking about me to the point these people become idols?

Am I seeking the approval of man over God?

 Am I seeking the interest of others over my own? [Philippians 2:4]

Is my time so important to me that I am not willing to pause, and help someone else in need?

Is there someone in my own family, or circle of friends that I need to reach out to even though it may take a lot of my resources and energy?

Are we so in love with our church and our "religion" that we close the doors on those that are on the outside? Does our attitude reflect a heart of love, or a heart of judgement and condemnation? 

Selfishness preserves our heart. It encases it with cold legalism and religion instead of breaking it wide open to ooze out love to others in need of a touch of His Grace and Compassion. Our hearts were not made to be preserved and frozen, but to be cut-wide open, bleeding for others to know Him. 

Lord, help me to turn from my selfish ways. Help me to deny myself when I want to surrender to the demands of my flesh. Break my heart wide open and free it from self-preservation and selfishness.  

Take up your cross daily:

Am I willing to totally die to myself? Am I willing to be totally surrendered to Christ that I will follow Him at all costs? Including losing some friends along the way? Am I willing to carry the cross even when being a Christian gets hard and uncomfortable? Even when others mock me or roll their eyes at me? And to love them anyway?

Taking up our cross daily is not a burden we pride ourselves of carrying as some like to believe. It is not meant to be viewed as a martyredom on our part before God. No. That kind of thinking takes the focus off of Christ and puts it on us. This is not what "taking up our cross" looks like. 

Taking up our cross is totally surrender to Him. To His Word. To His Ways. To His Love. To His Mercy. To His Compassion. To His Humility. 

Lord, help me to take up my cross daily. No matter the persecution that comes my way. 

Follow Me:

Perhaps this one has pierced my heart in the biggest ways. It is the one I probably struggle with the most. 

As humans, we have a tendency to want to be followers. We are like sheep constantly in search of a shepherd to lead us. 

Since the beginning of time, this has been a problem with us. 

We are so quick to make an idol out of people, things--anything. 

In this day and age, I find it no coincidence that we have "followers" on social media. Not only that, but we have many that we "follow". 

Friends, we must be careful who we follow. Let me say that one more time--we must be careful who we follow. 

Several years ago, I was following someone on Instagram. She is an amazing woman of God--known by many. However, I found myself wanting to be just like her. I was envious of how witty she was, how her family seemed so perfect as she home-schooled her slew of children. I found my joy being suffocated because her life looked so much prettier than mine. 

People hung on her every word. I was one of those people. 

I found myself wanting to be like her. Although, my life was so much different than hers. 

She did not do anything wrong, it was my heart that was in the wrong. She had become an idol to me.

The Lord showed me during that time, that I was putting women of God like her in a place above Him. I got so caught up in the glamour and the praise of her life, that it made me feel inadequate in my own. 

Again, God is using her to minister to many. She was not the problem, my heart was. When we put our faith in people, instead of God, we start to crumble. We lose our Joy. We lose our sense of value in Christ. We lose all the way around.  Our gifts become stifled and suffocated. 

Comparison is the thief of Joy. 

We become enamored with their lives, their stories, their wittiness, their families, and we forget the One we are truly to follow--Christ.

Who are we following, friends? 

Who has the most influence in our lives?

Lord, let it be You. Help us to follow You completely and remove any idols that have come before You. If we are following anyone other than You, please reveal this to our hearts. Shine a light on places where we have made idols. We repent, and we desire to follow You-above all others. 



Lord help me to follow You,


jill

re-posted from 11/06/2015



Feb 1, 2021

And one to grow on....

 "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities." Luke 16:10

Over the weekend, I had another birthday. 

As I get older, I really do appreciate each year of life. 

I also appreciate things and people that I probably took for granted in my earlier years. 

The brevity of life is very clear as we grow older. 

I am totally tracking with the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 90:12...

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

The older I get, you can be sure I am starting to number my days!

This past week, my heart has been so full of gratitude. I actually left lunch with some friends recently and cried the whole way home. 

No, no, no, not hormones. 

I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude. I cried my mascara right off and told God that I did not feel like I deserved the blessings He gives me. 

Honestly, I wasn't having a pity party, just a straight up honest to goodness truth telling moment. I told God through those tears that I did not feel worthy of the family and friendships in my life.

 I told Him that I wanted to make sure I was faithful in all of the things He has given me. 

Faithful in my marriage. Faithful in motherhood. Faithful in being a daughter. Faithful in being a sister. Faithful in being an aunt. Faithful in being a friend. 

Faithful with the people and opportunities He has given me. 

I want to speak well of people. At all times. It can be hard when someone has hurt you--or worse-- hurt someone you love. 

I want to speak well of my husband to others--not complaining or daydreaming of someone else's supposed greener grass. 

I want to speak words of life over my kids--not words of agitation, guilt, impatience, and frustration. 

I want to be present with those around me. 

Many, many things can pull at my attention throughout the day--especially my phone. 

Being faithful in all of these areas requires discipline and managing my hours and minutes and even seconds well. 

This desire to be faithful, is not just a new years resolution, it is a lifetime journey. I want to be faithful because God is so very Faithful to me. 

As I look back on my life, I see every reason in the whole wide world for God to have abandoned me and to have thrown His Holy hands up in the air and walked away rolling His eyes. 

I have let Him down. 

I have sinned. 

I have turned my back on Him. 

I have disobeyed Him. 

I have chosen the wider path many times. 

I have screamed at Him. 

I have told Him He was not good. 

Yet, just like a Good Father, He never ever left me. 

He is Faithful. 

He has taught me unconditional love by the way He loves me. 

He has shown me oceans of Grace over and over and over when I did not deserve an ounce of it. 

He has loved me at my worst. 

He is Faithful. 

I will never, this side of Heaven, be able to comprehend His Love for me. My human heart will never get it. 

But, I desperately want Him to know how grateful I am... for His Faithfulness. 

I wanna be faithful in all the ways I can. 

I wanna represent Him well to anyone that will listen, because He has represented me when I was unworthy to be represented. 

So often I have thought of faithfulness as this lofty and holy goal that was just absolutely out of reach. 

He is showing me that faithfulness is a heart issue. It is not something to be acquired by how many scriptures we have memorized or how many Sundays we go to church...

Faithfulness shows up in the tiniest of moments.

 In my thoughts...

In my reactions to people that step on my toes--or a loved ones toes...

In the way I treat people--all people...

In the way I treat my family...

In the way I spend my time...

In the things I let my eyes see...

In the things I let my ears listen to...

In the words that come out of my mouth...

In the way I live my life outside of the view of others...

God sees. 

He sees it all. 

He is El Roi--The God who sees me. 

I want Him to see faithfulness. 

Not perfection, oh so far from that...

Just a heart desiring faithfulness. 


another year older, 


jill



Jan 21, 2021

Brick Walls...

 As I was quietly soaking in God's Words yesterday morning, I came to a passage I had read many times before. This time it really hit me. I circled it and wrote it down in my prayer journal. 

But I will make Pharaoh's heart stubborn so that I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the Land of Egypt. Exodus 7:3

Have you ever been in a situation that you really believe was God's will but there was nothing budging in the matter? You thought you heard Him clearly on what to do and suddenly you face a brick wall?

Sometimes those brick walls can be people. 

I remember in high school I dated a boy. We hit it off so very well and I thought for sure we would last forever. 

However, his feelings did not match mine. After about a year, I noticed a change as the relationship began to fall apart. 

I was heart broken. And confused. 

My prayer life suddenly jumped up a few thousand degrees as I asked God, "Why??"

Many many years down the road, I see why. 

God did not have him in mind for me. 

The boy's heart had turned away from me, and it was all for a purpose. 

A greater purpose was in store for me, even though at the time I could not see it. 

Just recently I had a mini, okay major, tantrum with God. 

I locked myself in my room and I told Him I was mad at Him. I let out every single angry thing that I felt He had done to disappoint me in a certain situation. 

I told Him that He was mean and that He was not good. 

It felt real satisfying to let it out. 

He knew I was feeling all of those things anyway, so I really let Him have it. 

For so long, I would have thought that it was unholy and unrighteous to talk to God that way. 

But, I have come to realize that intimacy creates honesty and openness. I knew He could handle my tantrum. He has heard it before. 

A few hours later, I apologized to Him. I told Him that I would trust Him even when I did not see a shred of evidence of good in that certain situation. 

Moses must have felt the same way. 

God had called to Moses from a burning bush for Heaven's sake! He gave Moses a clear and precise message. Moses was unsure and doubted that he was the one for the task because of his stuttering problem. 

God convinced Moses with these words..

The LORD said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exodus 4:11

Moses finally gave in and accepted the task to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. 

However, Moses was met with a brick wall....Pharaoh. 

I mean, surely God could have made this a little easy for Moses, right??

Which leads us back here to this passage..

But I will make Pharaoh's heart stubborn so that I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the Land of Egypt. Exodus 7:3

This delay, this brick wall....had much purpose. 

A greater purpose than Moses could see in his limited human vision. 

The delay in deliverance caused many, many more Israelites to believe and to be convinced of God's Faithfulness and Goodness. 

Could the delay, the brick wall, the unresponsive heart that you are facing be all a part of God's Master plan for greater deliverance and miracles?

I certainly am starting to believe it. 

When we face these brick walls in our lives, let's learn to trust Him as we bang up against it. 

He is creating something greater on the other side of it...we will see soon enough. 


pressing into the bricks, 


jill

**Join us as we read through God's Word together in one year! We are reading The Daily Walk Bible. 



Jan 14, 2021

He sees you...

 It has been 7 days since committing to a 52 day journey of fasting, praying, and seeking God. 

The events of last week in our country brought a heaviness I cannot describe, yet God also brought a stirring to my heart of some kind. 

An odd combination of grief and heart palpitating awareness that God is calling us to do something. I believe that something is exactly what Nehemiah did...pray, fast, seek. 

For the past several weeks, I have heard a whisper in my soul...Faithfulness. 

It speaks as I open up my sleepy eyes each morning, and as I lay down to sleep each night. 

Scripture after scripture, I see God sweetly beckon us to faithfulness. 

Just this morning as I was perusing the book of Psalms, I came across this treasure..

I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. Psalm 101:6

Lord, show me what this means, I reply back to Him after reading. 

A couple of weeks ago, I started a new secret prayer list. 

Lean in close and I will share just one  of those secret prayers....

I asked God to help me be more faithful in  being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, and neighbor. 

This desire to be faithful is woven into every moment of my day. From getting up early to spend time with Jesus, to being more thoughtful about how I spend my day. It seeps into how I take care of my house, and how I take care of my people. I think about faithfulness as I go to Target or Walmart and ask God to help me be faithful and prudent with our finances. 

Faithfulness is obedience. In the smallest of things, to the biggest of things...it is what we do with our time. What we do with our money. What we do with the day in and day out activities....

Faithfulness is doing the hard work of loving those that are very difficult to love. Faithfulness is to keep persisting in prayer even when we feel like there is no way on Earth God hears us. Faithfulness is choosing to hold our tongue when we are wronged and praying for our enemies instead of throwing stones back at them. 

I see this faithfulness woven into the men and women of the Bible. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Moses, David, Ester, Mary, Ruth, Paul, John, Peter.

Slowly, I am seeing....God doesn't want my productivity, He wants my heart. A heart of faithfulness. 

This routine...this day in and day out desire to be faithful...it can seem mundane and small. 

No one sees these small faithful things we do. 

Oh, but God does. 

He is El Roi...

The God who sees me. 

These things that we repeatedly do, they begin to create a foundation of faithfulness in our hearts. 

These small acts of faithfulness, they begin to change our behavior. They become the habits of our hearts. 

These habits can create great dividends in God's Kingdom plan here on Earth. 

Nehemiah...I come to again. 

His faithfulness produced miracles for many to see as he built the walls of Jerusalem in a record shattering 52 days. 

In the dark hours, when no one else sees us caring for our babies, washing the 30th load of clothes for the day, getting up before the birds to just sit with Jesus, quietly praying for the needs of those around us, checking on that sweet widow who lives down the road, driving once again to our workplace wondering if we will ever get a promotion..

These habits. These things we repeatedly do...They become holy ground when we do them unto the Lord. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human master Colossians 3:23

When the work is hard, when the day is long, when our hearts are weary, when our souls are depleted, when our faith is wavering, when there seems to be no end in sight, when the miracle seems out of reach, when the marriage appears to be destroyed, when the relationship is shattered, when the illness lingers, when the wound keeps festering...

We fall into the arms of our Faithful Father. 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24


El Roi...The God who sees you. 

Keep going, sweet friend. 


He sees you, 


jill









:

Jan 7, 2021

52 days...

 As I woke up this morning, groggy, puffy eyed, and sleepy, I grabbed my piping hot cup of liquid consciousness (coffee), and settled into the well worn spot on our couch. 

Turning my Daily Walk Bible to today's reading, I was hit with a breath of relief. Today was day 7, the day to rest and review from my reading. 

I needed the break today. Today, I just wanted to sit, be still, and talk to Jesus. 

However, after a few minutes of prayer, I felt led to open my Bible again. I needed a fresh Word. My heart was troubled over the news and the world and the utter chaos happening in the heart of our nation. 

Pages gently open fell to the book of Nehemiah. 

My eyes came to this passage, like they were in Neon lights on the page...

They said to me, "Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire. 

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of Heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah follows this with a heart wrenching prayer to God. 

Nehemiah feels helpless, broken, and utterly in despair for the people of Jerusalem. The Jewish people have come back from Babylonian exile to a city in ruins. 

Can you relate to Nehemiah? 

Me too. 

My heart is broken over terror, and intimidation, and unrest, and anger, and ugliness, and injustice, and hearts turned toward evil.

However, I have a choice. Just like Nehemiah had a choice. 

He could sit and stew and talk to all his friends about how crappy Jerusalem was and how life was just terrible for the Jewish people, and fear and worry, and wring his hands...

Or, he could pray. He could fast. He could seek the Lord. 

And, that is exactly what He did. 

We are faced with the same choices. 

Will we post videos and comments and opinions and thoughts and point fingers at those who do not think like us?

OR, will we still ourselves and pray. And fast. And seek the Lord. 

God used one little fella by the name of Nehemiah to help rebuild a great big wall around Jerusalem. To bring honor back to the Holy City. 

ONE man prayed, fasted, and sought the Lord. 

ONE man listened and acted. 

ONE man sought the help of others and built a massive wall around Jerusalem in a record breaking, 52 days. 

Friends, we have a mission. It has never been more clear. 

We must pray. We must fast. We must seek God. 

Our phones, and tablets, and tv's, and newsfeeds, and selfies, and social media... need to be replaced by prayer and stillness and seeking. 

We may not be called to build a wall, but we are called to love those around us. To serve those in our own homes, in our own neighborhoods. To pray, encourage, love on, notice, listen, and be PRESENT with. 

We are called to do the thing right in front of us. To love the people RIGHT next to us. 

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

How will we ever shine the Light of Christ if we continue to stay in the dark corners of fear, worry, laziness, disobedience, separation, and self-protection?

Nehemiah could have stayed in the comfort of The King's Palace. He could have kept his cozy little daily routine as being the cupbearer to the King, and minded his own business. 

Instead, Nehemiah mourned and grieved and PRAYED for the people of Jerusalem. He was moved to tears and more so, he was moved to PRAY. 

Only after much praying, fasting, and seeking,  did God prompt him to act. 

The enemy so often for us is distraction and apathy. 

We are just too busy. 

Or we just really do not care. 

If you are in a place of business and apathy, drop to your knees and ask God to STIR your heart! Ask Him to open your eyes and to SEE what HE SEES. 

Pray, and don't stop praying. 

Do the thing right in front of you. 

It's the faithful little things that bring about the most KINGDOM change. 

Stay faithful. 

Faithful in prayer. 

Faithful in fasting. 

Faithful in seeking God in His Word. 

Friend, there is NOTHING more important. 

When we come to the end of our lives...these distractions of media, and phones, and tablets and tv's...they will fade away with zero eternal significance. 

However, when we leave behind a faithful heart of prayer, and fasting, and seeking God...

He leave behind a harvest of fruit that keeps on producing eternally. 

Let's heed the call to pray. Let's heed the call to fast. Let's heed the call to put down our phones and pick up our Bibles. 

52 days. 

I am committing to 52 days of prayer, fasting, and seeking God. 

Please consider joining me. I much prefer accountability. 

52 days. 

Let's heed the call together. 


putting away distractions, 


jill










Joseph's Story...

 Two weeks ago my college boy son came home for the weekend. It is always wonderful to see his sweet face and to soak in his presence.  When...