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Sunday, June 5, 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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Goodbye School Year....

Well, it is the end of another school year. Goodbye 5th grade and goodbye 9th grade. Here are a few memories from Presley's award night. I didn't have any pictures from Joseph's award night, because we were not sitting close enough to get good pics. And, well, he is in high school and it is kind of embarrassing to him to snap pictures like the crazy mad woman that I am.
Maybe he won't care next year.
 
This year has FLOWN by. Probably because we moved in December, and life got a lot crazy.
 
 
This has been a year of many changes.
 
 
  • After 3 1/2 years, Danny went back to live with his parents.
  • Joseph started high school.
  • We MOVED.
 
Whew. No more changes for a while, ok?
 
 
One thing is for sure...we are ready for SUMMER!!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Twinsies.

These kids. I love them all.

I love this face.


A fun night!!

Cheering on our girl!

Proud of little sis.

Music Award, A/B honor roll, and Khan Academy award!


True Presley form.

Ce-le-brate good times, come on...

Whew. Is it May, or is it May?

I really think May is busier than December. For those of us with kids in school, it can become quite hectic.

So, let's lighten the mood, shall we?

This week in my county, it is our last week of school. Since my children started school over 10 years ago (whoa!), this has been my favorite week of the whole year.

Over the years we have celebrated this week in many fun ways. Most of these ideas are from other mother's that I saw do them first hand, or ideas the kids and I thought up together. These are not very pinterest-y, but they are a whole lot of fun.

Here are some of the things we do, or have done over the years to CELEBRATE this week:

Make a totally weird and different lunch than usual. Put random snacks in their lunch boxes instead of the ol' sandwich and chips thing.

Put food coloring in their bottled water--their favorite color. This may not be cool for "big" kids, so use discretion. ;)

Leave them a note each day this week somewhere in their book bag, folder, or lunch box.

Eat out one night, or three. You can make it really cheap. Look for cheap kids meals.

Cook their favorite breakfast one day this week. Let them pick the menu.

Same for dinner. Let each kid pick dinner and let them help you make it. OR, let them make it themselves.  Warning: This can get crazy. And a tad messy.

On the last day of school, surprise them with a Summer bucket. You can get a beach pail from the dollar store and put little things in the bucket that your kids would like. Crayons, markers, sidewalk chalk, bubble bath, candy, etc. Big kids like this too! Just use big kid items instead. ;)

Make a Summer bucket list this week with your family. Again, get a bucket from dollar store, and get clothes pins. Write activities to do this Summer in marker on the clothes pin, and pin it to the rim of the bucket. When you do the activity, throw the clothes pin in the bucket! Kids love this. Any age!

Motherhood can be so serious at times. My hope is that my children will remember that life is to be celebrated! Every day is a chance to celebrate. To be thankful. To choose JOY.

Joy is contagious. It affects all who enter into its presence.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Don't you love that?

How do you celebrate?



looking for clothes pins,

jill






Monday, February 22, 2016

Don't give up little Momma....


Every Sunday I teach a group of 7th and 8th grade girls at our church. It's the hardest thing I have ever done. By far. Not because they are hard, but because there is a pretty large generational gap between us. My comfort zone is women closer to my age, or older.

I often wonder if these precious girls are "getting" what I am trying to teach them. These girls are very smart, and very wise. However, I still feel inadequate at times when trying to relate a concept to them.

However, I am reassured by God's Word being the foundation of our conversations. His Word is transcending and relatable to all ages and generations. So, even if I blow it in my teaching, they will get it when the Word is spoken.

"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" Romans 10:17

As parents, I think we feel this way with our children at times. At least I do.

When I speak to my 14 year old son, his response is not always what I want to hear.

I often wonder if he thinks I am just talking to hear myself talk. He's a really good kid. He tries to listen. He really does. But half the time I think he's not really comprehending because his thoughts are far away. In teenage boy land.

I have a choice. I can let this make me angry and yell at him for not listening.

Or, I can speak in my normal tone and convey what I am trying to say as calmly as possible.

Often I have raised my voice. However, I am beginning to see that I really don't have to yell.

He is listening. Whether he realizes it or not.

Our brains are pretty powerful. They can soak up information that we don't even realize they are soaking up.

When my husband leaves the TV on at night, I will have dreams about the shows he is watching. I am not even cognizant or awake, but my brain is listening and taking it in.

Crazy, right?

So, why am I telling you all of this.

Because, I want us to not give up as parents.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 4:9

I want us to keep talking to our kids. Keep teaching them. Keep praising them more than we criticize them. Keep pouring God's word into them.

They are listening.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Tape scripture under their beds. Around their bathroom mirror. Hide them in their book bags. Hide them in their diaper bags. Yes, even there.

Even if your children are very young, God's word will translate to the language their little hearts can understand. Just keep speaking it to them.

His Word is alive. It will penetrate into their hearts. Be patient and trust in Him to work.

Do not lose heart, whatever you do. Every single prayer prayed on behalf of our children is a seed planted for a harvest one day. His Word will never return void.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

I love this scripture. No matter what the "outside" shows in the lives of your children, it's the inside that God is renewing. Trust Him to do this!

Believe He will.

Stake your claim on the promises found in His Word and pray it over your children.

Ask God to "hide His word in your child's heart". Psalm 119:11

Never stop speaking God's word over them. No matter how old they are, speak it. Speak it daily.

The more we repetitively hear something, the more we believe it to be true.

"I will never stop praising the Lord, His praise will always be on my lips." Psalm 34:1

Be a broken record of praise over your children. Let them know you mean it when you say that they are "fearfully and wonderfully" made. Psalm 139:14

Be your child's biggest fan. Not their worst critic. Let them feel safe with you. Not threatened by your judgement and critical spirit towards them.

We will never as parents always get it right. But, we can love the living daylights out of our children even when we stumble and bumble our way about in this parenting world. A humble heart before the Lord goes a long, long way.

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. Psalm 25:9
When we ask for God to lead us, He will.

"in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight"  Proverbs 3:6

I came across the following scripture recently when I was at a loss with one of my children. I needed wisdom and I just wasn't sure what the right thing to do was.

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

And all the momma's said AMEN.


lead us Lord,

jill

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Laundry and Jesus....

I have to share with you an experience that I had yesterday at the Laundromat. Experience is the word I use because when I was telling the story to my fourteen year old son, he said, "Mom, that's not really a story, but an experience."

Don't you love being corrected by your child? So much fun.

First, let me start by saying that we finally [finally!] got moved into our house. Whew. This has been a journey. A long one.

Anyway, remember how I told you about my over-sized laundry room? If you forgot, see post here.

It's bigger than my kitchen. I am not kidding. My kitchen is teeny tiny and this laundry room is ridiculous. Go figure.

As we began to settle in a bit last week, our washing machine decided she was ready to retire. RETIRE. After only about 4 good years of service. FOUR.

Who retires after four years? Well, she does I guess.

The repairman came to try to work on her, but she was going to be more costly to repair than replace. So, we have a new one on the way.

With that said, I have been without a washer for over a week. Make that going on two weeks. Yep.

I'm all about a laundry strike, don't get me wrong. But, things start to get smelly after a while. Know what I mean?

So, yesterday, instead of invading my sweet friend Kim's home, again, to do my laundry, I visited the local Laundromat, The Wash Rock.  Catchy name, right?

I walk in with a not-so-great attitude and my four loads of laundry.

I felt like I was in a foreign land. I had no idea what to do. Which machine? There are so many!

As I stand there with my laundry spilling out of my baskets, I feel people staring. Ugh. My new organic deodorant apparently is not working, because I am sweating like an elephant under circus lights.

Finally, I meekly asked a lady how this works and which machine to use.

She gladly showed me the ropes. I could have hugged her right then and there. Except I was holding smelly laundry and my pits were sweating profusely.

I started my loads, and began to sit down to make my grocery list, catch up on emails, and write in my planner.

However, before I could even sit down, my first load was done. Whew. That was fast. A little too fast. I was kind of looking forward to some "down time".

It all went by so quickly! I now know why people use Laundromats. They are fast! You can also do many loads at one time. [Just be prepared to have a small fortune in quarters. Good grief.]

As I was folding up my last load, I noticed a young man. He looked very thin. And very frail.

He was no more than 25 years old.

He was having trouble getting his clothes out of the washer. He had used an older washer I guess to save money, but it left the clothes soaking wet. Almost like it had not used a spin cycle at all to drain the water.

As he took the clothes out of the washer, water was dripping everywhere. I could tell he was embarrassed. Their were a lot of people around. A puddle was forming at his feet.

More than anything, I wanted to throw my laundry down and go and help him. I wanted to ask him if he had eaten, or if he needed clothes, or money for the dryer. I tried to think of a million scenarios to try to talk to him and offer to help. I prayed and asked God, "what can I do??"

The scripture that the Lord laid on my heart was this, "Be still."

I wanted so badly to give him something. To help in some way. Yet, I knew in my heart that wasn't my purpose. God wanted me to see this man. God wanted me to see, because often I don't see.

Often, I am at home in my own comfy house, using my own washing machine, and my own dryer.

Often, I have my face in my phone instead of noticing those around me.

Often, I am too busy thinking of my "wants" instead of the basic needs of others.

God wasn't trying to condemn me. No.

God was using conviction to cleanse my heart. To not just cleanse it, but to break it wide open.

To pieces.

I will never shake this experience. This man.

I don't know his name, but God does.

God tells us in Isaiah..."See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands". Isaiah 49:16

Since seeing this man, I have prayed for him fervently. Not because I think he desperately needs my prayers, but because I desperately need to remember him.

I need to remember this raw heart feeling.

Therefore, I will always remind you about these things--even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 2 Peter 1:12

It's not about a broken washing machine, but about a broken heart. A heart that notices others. A heart that decides to see instead of building a wall so tall around it that the view is blocked.

40 “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 25:40

We are surrounded by the least of these. Surrounded.

However, before we can "do", we must "see".

Our eyes have to be open, our hearts prepared for the mission he has for us each day.

We must be in alignment with the Lord each and every moment.

From the moment our eyes open, we need to ask Him to speak. To show. To teach. To convict.

Being in the will of God will always be about noticing and acting on the needs of others. Always.

We need to look no further than Jesus for this example. Nothing He did was for Himself. Jesus spent all of His days seeing, hearing, teaching, ministering, feeding, and loving others.

Not a minute was wasted.

Let's follow Jesus' example.

Starting today, let's open our eyes. Open our hearts to a world that needs the Love and Hope of Christ.

Who will you see today?


eyes wide open,


jill

Friday, November 27, 2015

Memory Lane....

The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Psalm 115:14

Every once in a while, I go through my pictures. It always stops me in my tracks. I cannot believe how fast time goes by.

It makes me realize a few things...

Life is precious.
Life is fleeting.
Children grow.
Moments pass. Good ones and bad ones.
Love can be captured in a picture.
I have so much to be thankful for.
God is good.
 
Here are a few I came across...