Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow in Love....

So, we are snowed in! And, it's FABULOUS!

I love days when all four of us are here, and we have nothing but time, sweet time together.

This is the second week in less than 3 weeks that we have been home bound due to snow and ice. I see it as such a GIFT! The first one happened the week of my  birthday, so it really was a gift. Two days of no school for the kids=one happy momma!

Here are a few pictures from our week....


Our power went out the first morning...
so, the boys play chess...
the girls play doodle dice. 

my love!

my little loves!

snow is just heavenly!

Presley and her daddy

heading out for a ride on the four wheeler!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slow down.....

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Being a mom is hard. Real hard.

I find myself second guessing decisions that I make, or don't make.

Constantly I am wondering if I am too strict, not strict enough?

I want to do a good job at this. I really do.

Today, one of the refrigerator racks fell off. Crashing with a boom to the floor. 

A jar of blueberry jelly busted all over the floor. Blue jelly and pieces of glass. Everywhere.

It was a mess. A big fat mess.

As I was on my knees scrubbing the jelly off the floor and picking up pieces of glass, the Lord reminded me of something.

I was in a rush when I was putting the ketchup back on that shelf after dinner. My hand haphazardly hit the bottom of the shelf, and boom came crashing down. 

It was an accident that could easily have been prevented.  I was in a hurry. 

I see the same thing in my parenting.

If I don't take the time now to slow down, to mend things, tend to things, nurture things that happen in the lives of my children....those things will soon be just like that jelly splattered all over the floor. A big fat mess.

I realize many things will be a "choice" for them. We all have choices. However, my job is to not be their conscience but their trainer. My job is to train them now for the race of life. I won't be able to run the race at all times beside them, but I have the chance now to prepare them. To condition them for what is to come.

Life is hard. Training is necessary and essential to this race. 

Lord, remind me to slow down. Please help me to take the time to be attentive to these little ones. Help me to not be rushed, bothered,  or too busy to stop, in my parenting. I desire to be intentional and purposeful in training them. I desire to not just mend seams that bust in their lives but to watch for seams that are weak or loose. Give me eyes to see those barely noticeable seams that are in need of attention, Lord. I have this one chance to raise these precious ones. Please help me to do it well. 

 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I confess....

Somewhere along the way, I have eased up on my prayer life.

Not sure when it began, but it happened.

Probably busyness. It will suck the living daylights out of a good prayer life.

When we are not intentional about things, we begin to form bad habits. Hence, my prayer life.

I have still been reading God's Word, studying His Word, and all that fun stuff. However, somewhere along the line, an unceasing prayer life, has slipped off the radar.

I have been praying.

But, not unceasingly. "...pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I committed this week to get back on the prayer horse and stay there.

If I look back on my life, the times when my head was face down to the ground, is when I saw the Lord working the most. Not that He wasn't working if I wasn't praying, but He really showed me Himself when I was face to the ground.

What about you?

Feeling disconnected?

Plug back into prayer.

I dare you.

Hold me accountable and  I will do the same for you.

back to praying,

jill

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes....

So, today is bittersweet.

I am taking a break from my daily SHINE Girls posts. I will still write, just not everyday.

Instead of dragging on and on, I will just post on here the same thing I posted on the SHINE blog today.

Today's Post:

Dear SHINE sisters,

As I sat down to write you, I opened my Bible for strength and the "words" to say to you today.

You will never believe the verse that I turned to as I anxiously awaited God's leading in this post.

"Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5. 

This verse is at the very top of this website, it is engraved on a necklace that I wear around my neck that my dear sister gave me. This verse is one of the verses SHINE girls was found upon.

God showed me this verse very early in our ministry, day two or three, I think. It has been our life verse for this ministry.

So, to have it blazing in my face when I opened my Bible just now, is well.....only a Jesus thing. That's for sure.

22 months ago, God asked me to follow this amazing journey with Him. A journey of seeking Him daily in His Word. A journey of pursuing Him like never before.

Many of you have been on this journey with me since day one. Many of you have just joined recently. Either way, my heart is overjoyed at the thought of all of you standing shoulder to shoulder to me as we trek through His Awesome and Holy Word each day.

Learning, growing, falling down, picking each other back up...every single day.

I never knew such a community of fellowship could exist among women, until the Lord showed me with my very own eyes.

The Lord is speaking very clearly to me now. When we are in His Word, we cannot help but to hear Him, friends. It's just that simple.

Last week, I spent a glorious Fall break with my children. I didn't write or blog. In fact, I even sent an email to many of my friends telling them that I was taking a "texting" break. I felt the Lord leading me to a distraction-free week.

A week of hearing from Him, and Him only.

I enjoyed every peaceful second of last week. God was showing me the beauty in the quiet. The whisper of Peace. The fulfillment of Him and Him alone.

My children are still young. As of 14 months ago, we have a third child under our roof. Life is very very full. Like, many of your lives.

The ministry that I desire most, is in my  home.

This ministry must come first if He is to bless me with more ministry opportunities. The overflow of my home ministry, will naturally flow into other ministries--if it is His will.

"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones." 
Luke 16:10

This verse has been on "repeat" in my heart for weeks now. God is telling me, "Jill, I have entrusted to you these little small people under your roof. Be faithful in training them up, be faithful in your time with them. My desires become your desires when you are faithful with the small things. The small things are often overlooked when you  focus on the bigger things. Trust me in this."

Everything that we have done on SHINE--the reading, the Monday memory verses, the fun Friday challenges, Serve-day Thursdays, etc...all of this was stemmed from my own home life with my children. We started these things before I ever dreamed many of you would be doing this with us. Hand in hand, day by day.

He was showing me that all those talks in the car, those verses the children and I sang and memorized together...they have all been part of a bigger plan. A plan that could only be fulfilled when the smaller plan was practiced--day in, day out.

As I rested last week in His Presence, and sought Him in His Word, He spoke to me. His gentle, sweet whisper teaching me, guiding me, pursuing me.

He's telling me to rest in Him for a while. In order to pour out to others, I must be getting filled by Him. I cannot run too far ahead, or I will get weary and tired.

Maybe this is a season, and then He will call me back to this online ministry. Maybe this is the end.

I'm not sure. Only the Lord knows for sure.

This is what I do know: I don't want to miss a day with Him. Not even a second. When He speaks, I want to listen. Not just listen, but obey. Even when my flesh cries and doesn't understand, I know He knows what's best for me.

As I am typing this my daughter is brushing my hair. I cannot help but to think of the symbolism of this act taking place.

This time is short with her under my roof.

Our greatest ministries are often the ones right under our noses. The ones that may get overlooked at times.

I encourage all of us--to not overlook the small things. Those small things are the really big things to God. Those small things become the really big things.

Thankfully, God has given me the gift of a Wednesday night group to continue on with through my church. A face-to-face, heart-to-heart group.

SHINE girls will continue. Just not in this format for now.

I will still write, oh yes. My writing is my expression of my love for Him. I will still post what He is teaching me, what I am learning--when He prompts me to write about it.

I encourage you to stay in His Word. Stay accountable in a small group, or a bible study. You may think you don't need this, but you do. We all do.

The Lord teaches us to connect with each other--not just online, or texting or phone calls --but through meeting, praying, encouraging, lifting each other up.

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, 
but encourage one another, 
especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."
 Hebrews 10:25


Please keep reading His Word. It's Life. 

To continue on with us, you can access the reading plan at this site:

 http://eastridgefamily.org/files/Reading%20Plan/Three%20Year%20Bible%20Reading%20Plan.pdf

{this is actually the whole 3 year plan! we are on year one}

My SHINE girls Wednesday night group and I will still be reading, still be studying, and still be meeting. 

One last note: As I cried my eyes out at church yesterday about this with two of my mentors--Becky Foy and Robyn Bailey-- they both said this:

"Sometimes we miss the GREAT things that God has for us because we get tied up with so many "good" things."

Oh, girls, let's don't miss the GREAT things. Let's listen. Let's obey. Let's follow Him. Wherever He leads.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens"
Ecclesiastes 3:1



missing you already,

jill


Saturday, September 28, 2013

A letter to the girls...The married kind.....


celebrating on a little mountain get-away..
courtesy of Rick and Jane. ;)

On September 26th, Lem and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. {how can this be?}

Just a few thoughts on the subject.....

Our marriage is not perfect. In fact, it is far from it.

I am not always in a good mood. {neither is he.}

I am not always cheery. {neither is he}

Some days are hard. Well, many days actually.

My temper and my tongue go haywire at times. {still working on this one}

He has better control over this than I do. {shoot}

If I am honest, I will tell you that marriage is not easy. It teaches me to be a giver, and not always a taker.

I've discovered that when I give, and not always demand my own way, he tends to be more of a giver.

Sounds crazy, right?

My body is not the same, my face is not the same {it has a lot more lines}. However, Lem accepts me and loves me and makes me feel the same.

I have tried to change him, to mold him, to create the "husband" I think he should be.

This does not work.

Let me repeat: This does not work.

When I learned to approach this "without words", as 1 Peter 3:1 tells us, things started changing.

When I learned to quit nagging, persisting, insisting, and demanding he change....

His ears could finally hear the Holy Spirit.

The clanging in his ears from my voice was preventing the Holy Spirit's Voice from being heard.

I thought I was doing the right thing all of those years...

When, in fact, I just had to trust the Lord with him. I had to learn to realize that God loves Lem more than me. I had to realize that God could change him, but I could not.

The biggest revelation was that I was the one in need of change. {say what?!}

My heart was in the wrong place. Always demanding, expecting, and not content unless he was doing what I wanted him to do.

I wanted him to do a bible study, he did not want to.

I wanted to be more involved in church, he did not want to.

I wanted to make him have quiet time with me, he did not want to.

I wanted him to read the bible with me, he did not want to.

I wanted him to quit drinking alcohol, he did not want to.

I wanted him to be like some of my friends godly husbands {and I even told him that many times}, he did not want to.

Notice the first word in each of the above sentences??

Yes, I. Me, myself, and I.

When I let go of my expectations, and focused on my own walk, my own relationship with Christ....

Something incredible happened.

My heart softened. My heart changed.

Not only that, but the icing on the cake was that Lem started to change.

God began to draw us closer, when I stepped back and let the Lord do His thing.

Who knew??

As women, we like to have control over things. We like to tie things up in a pretty little ribbon just the way we like them.

However, what He is showing me....

Is that when I let go. Give Him complete control. Surrender.....

All of those things I try to super glue together.... fall apart.

And the most glorious thing happens....

He turns that mess into a masterpiece.

He sees the act of surrender and obedience, and then He is able to do His Will. His Thing. His Perfect Plan begins to take place.

If you are in a marriage today that is struggling for air, on the brink of separation, in dire need of refreshing....

I encourage you to give it to Him.

Forget about trying in your own power to change things. It doesn't work. Never has and never will.

Surrender that marriage to the Lord. It's His to begin with anyway, right?

I also encourage you to be the change you want for him.

Yes, YOU be the change.

What do you want from your husband?

Be what you want him to be. Be consistent. Don't do it to force a change in him, do it because that's what God calls you to do.

This has nothing to do with your man. This has everything to do with Jesus Christ. Honoring Him. Period.

"Love never fails", my friends.

It will always be the right way.

I will still struggle with my expectations. I will still struggle with demanding my way.

However, I now know that nothing will change, unless I change.

Let me remember this, Father. Help us all to remember.

"We can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will." 1 John 5:14

"Ask anything in My name, and I will do it." John 14:14

"Call upon me and I will answer you" Jeremiah 33:3

"Above all else, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" 1 Peter 5:5


Father, soften our hearts. Help us to not be demanding, selfish, and self-focused in our marriage. Show us how to love without conditions and expectations. The kind of Love that You show us. Help us to put our men first, above all others, except You Lord. Give us the desire to be a better spouse. Give us the desire to be a giver, and not a taker. We ask that you weed out pride, and replace it with humility. Praise You, Father. You want our marriages rock solid, Father. Mend our hearts, repair the breeches, and nurse us back to health in these areas. Forgive us for not showing love. Forgive us for anything we have put before our marriages. Fall fresh on us today, Holy Spirit. We receive.



putting the super-glue away,


jill

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Diary of a Rural Housewife....

I love mornings. However, I am not always pleasant or attractive for that matter in the morning.

I do not sleep in cute matching pajamas. Nope. My shirts are greased stained, and ill-fitting, but, oh so comfy.

My children often get cereal for dinner. Because I am tired. They love cereal, I am pooped, so it works.

I hate packing lunch boxes. {shocking, huh}. I secretly hope that the school cafeteria will offer something delightful sounding to the kids so they will eat at school. This rarely happens.

I pray while I am packing the little lunch boxes. Because I dread it so.

I love crock pot meals. You guessed it. Easy. One dish, one meal, one cleanup. Oh yeah.

I loathe laundry.

My baskets show this disdain.

Question? How can you wash every thread in the house, and still wind up with a full basket within 24 hours? Yeah, I am still scratching my head on that one.

Laundry multiples. Like fungus. It grows and grows.

I often re-paint my toe nails. Over and over instead of using a fresh coat. By the time I am ready to remove, I need a paint solvent to melt that stuff off.

I love being asked over for dinner. It's so nice to not have to be the one preparing the food, cleaning the table, and too tired to eat by the time I sit down.


school lunch anyone?

jill

Thursday, August 29, 2013

One year later.....

So, I have this little person in my home. He's been here a little over a year now.

He has completely captured my heart. Which is a complete understatement.

Just tonight, I saw him in the den watching t.v. He was sitting really close, and I just watched the back of his little lead.

A few minutes later, he bolted into the kitchen and ran right into me by accident.

He looked up and said, "Oops, sorry."

I picked him up and spun him around and planted a big kiss on his cheek.

He was stiff as a board and certainly did not melt into my embrace. In fact, quite the opposite.

This happens a lot. Each time, my heart gets a little {a big} ping.

Every time this happens I get this picture in my head.

The picture of the many times that Jesus has been right there. Waiting on me to fall headlong into His Arms.

And, I don't.

In fact, many times I have been stiff. I have been resistant to His Love.

I wasn't ready. I wasn't able to receive it. Or at least didn't think I could.

God keeps speaking to my heart this word: Unconditional

Love is unconditional when it's not based on any conditions.

Like non-responsiveness. Like rejection. Like indifference.

When we are able to love unconditionally we get a glimpse of the Father's Love for us. It's almost too much to take in.

I thought that when the Lord laid it on my heart almost 3 years ago that we would foster, that the fostering would be to help, to nurture, to care for a child in need.

The definition of "foster" is this: "encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good)."

Little did I know that the fostering would be for my heart. The fostering has been for me. To encourage and promote the development of my heart.

To be able to see life in a view that I could have never seen otherwise.

Instead of wanting to "save a child", God is showing me a heart that needed fostering, saving, and growing.

My heart. 

Although our fostering situation looks way different than I had envisioned, the premise is still the same.

We can never put God in a box. He will bust that box wide open every single time.

It's been a year since we have had a new place setting at the table, and a third little lunch to pack daily.

I'm so grateful for this opportunity. It can be hard, it can be tiring, it can be mentally exhausting. Most days I feel like I am a miserable failure at this.

Then, just when I want to drown in my sorrows, a little voice will holler down the hall, "I love you too!"

When this happens, you could swim in the puddle that my melted heart has left on the floor.


learning to love,


jill



Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Happily Frazzled Female....

Somebody please tell me how we have a 7th grade child, and our youngest is in 3rd grade? Please explain.

I have no idea how this happened. We just had these kids a few years ago, and suddenly I cannot bear to go to sleep and wake up to another day of them getting older.

After running with a friend today, we saw a friend holding her newborn {like, not even a week old} baby.

It was hard to even remember my children ever being so tiny. A lump formed in my throat as I thought this: the closest I will ever get to having more babies is to have grandchildren one day.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Nobody tells you how hard it is to watch your babies grow up. NOBODY.

Or, quite possibly they did, I was just too busy juggling bottles, and cleaning up spit-up on my shirt and pants to notice.

I feel like I've been a haggard mess since August 5th, 2001, the day Joseph was born.

My body is different. Like, way different.

My attention to details is severely lacking. I'm lucky if I remember to put on my deodorant. I'm not kidding.

I do still wear make-up, ONLY because I like to make myself feel a little more normal.

Oh, but I love this life.

I have a lump in my throat the size of Hawaii....

I will miss this.

I already miss this, and it's still happening.

What will I do with myself with a quiet house???

I don't even want to think about it.

I know that God will prepare me and equip me when that season comes. However, now the thought of it just seems extremely depressing....and, well, lonely.

Lem will be with me. He will be thrilled to have me all to himself. I hope! ;)

For now, I will ENJOY every moment of this time being frazzled, haggard, and FULL.

My life is full. My plate is full. My nest is full.

And I love it.

So much.

Thank you Lord for this season. I will cherish it. I will see the JOY in each day.

Who knew God had such GOODNESS in store for me? Thank you, Father.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Are you sure, Lord?

So, the Lord has been talking to me today. Big time.

It started a few days ago actually. I had to sit down and write about it, because I thought it may encourage one of you.

I've been feeling so torn lately. I have felt the calling for a while to get plugged into my church more with bible studies.

This Summer, the opportunity fell right in my lap, literally.

I was so excited and joyful because I KNEW it was God's timing for me to begin a new season of leading a small group study.

However, I was also a little sad.

I would miss my Tuesday night girls in Madison.

Could I possibly do both?

Not likely as school starts back up and activities are in full swing.

I've been torn.

I know that the Lord had brought me into this Tuesday night bible study group in Madison a few years ago. I still feel very tied to them.

So, why would He pull me another way??

My heart is a little selfish in the whole thing because I want to do both groups.

I've been asking myself for months now if I am making the right decision. Am I following the Lord? What about all that I have invested in the relationships from my Tuesday night group?

Help.

My revelation came from an unlikely place.

A friend of mine was telling me of a pastor who was leaving a church. Some of the members were not happy about it.

One of the members asked him this question: "How do you know that it is the Lord calling you to leave? How do you know that it is not just your own selfish ambition?"

This was his answer..I am paraphrasing in a big way.

"You know it's His calling when you are scared to death. You know it's His calling when it makes you uncomfortable. You know it's His calling when it would be easier to stay. You know it's His calling when He lines it all up, but it still takes a  leap of Faith to change."

This has stuck with me for several days now.

This is exactly how I was feeling. Scared to death, uncomfortable, majorly unequipped, yet I have had every assurance that this had to be His way for me.

Fear would grip my heart and I would think: "If I knew with certainty that I would be a good small group leader, if I knew that ladies would come, if I knew that God would anoint me in this uncharted water...would I go?"

The answer was always Yes.

However, we don't always know with certainly. We just have to take steps in obedience. Trusting His lead even when it's not the easy way. Even when it would be so much easier to stay where it's comfortable, where your friends are.

I'm thankful to God for loving me enough to show me this Truth today.

He's so faithful, y'all. He really is.

He has called us to make disciples of all nations. That is a HUGE call. HUGE.

We cannot do that being comfortable all the time.

We must take a risk. We must keep moving. We must put our will aside and submit to His.

Has He asked you to change course? Does it scare you?

Trust Him.

Take His hand and walk over that mountain to the other side. The Promise of His faithfulness is just over the bend.


learning to go with the flow of His course,

jill




Friday, August 9, 2013

12 Candles.....

Joseph has officially claimed his 12th birthday as: 

THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!

Those are his words. 

We spent his birthday at the Georgia Aquarium. Momma Jane took all of us. 

It was SO much fun!

He then requested The Varsity for lunch. Mmmmmm. {yes, i need to go run. for miles. and miles.}

After all of that, we went to see his Maw Maw and Paw Paw and they took him to Cracker Barrel for dinner.

Does it get much better than that? Wow.

The day before his birthday we had a family dinner party at our house. The Crowes, The Allgoods, and The Jaynes came over to celebrate our August babies...Amberlee and Joseph. 

Birthdays are the BEST!


Happy Birthday, Joseph


Fun cousins! Behind Joseph--Graham, Presley and Danny
!

4-d movie

swimming with the sharks!
{well. not really. but it was cute}

Presley pets a {fake} beluga whale.
these are my favorite.

with the penguins! presley said they stink--she's holding her nose

electric eel


his present. hanging on the wall. good grief. boys.
{i think Lem likes this just as much as Joseph}

celebrating Amberlee and Joseph! our August birthday babies.

Joseph's favorite chocolate cake--made by Aunt Angie.

Kim made some yummy banana pudding cake
 {and a gluten-free one!}

my beautiful birthday girl--amberlee!

look at my boy!

The Crowes, The Hills, The Allgoods, and the Jaynes.

singing to Joseph

make a wish!

12 candles. wow.

Joseph & Amberlee
12 & 19