Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas Story--well, kind of....

This time of year holds many special traditions for our family.

One of them being Santa Claus pictures. Since my children were birthed, we have taken them to see Santa Claus at a local mall. I have 13 pictures proudly displayed on my kitchen counter representing each year the kids saw Santa. Until this year.

Let me explain...

Monday of this week rolled around and I gasped. Literally, out loud, I gasped.

"We haven't had our annual Santa pictures taken! We must get to the mall now!"

The kids and I jumped into the car and drove the 45 minute drive to the mall.

My thirteen year old son was less than thrilled. I can't imagine why.

We walked right up to the picture line for Santa. I squealed because there was NO one in line. NO one. God had shone His favor all over us!! I just knew it!!

I proudly stood there with my children in tow ready for our annual Santa picture.

The [not so kind] elf man said, "I am sorry, ma'am, but Santa is going on an hour break."

In the sweetest voice I could find I replied, "Oh, sir, but this will only take a second. My kids are big, they smile easily, and they will be done in just a few minutes. Simple!"

The elf man replied, "Umm, no, I am sorry. You will have to come back, Ma'am."

My face started to get flushed. The back of my neck was starting to feel prickly. I could feel my emotions rising a little too quickly.

"Sir, I will buy the biggest package you offer if you will just let us get one quick picture!"

The elf man looked at me like I had totally insulted him. Well, I suppose I did.

"Ma'am, we only have one size package. That's the only package you will be able to get. Now, I am sorry. Come back later."

I felt like I was in a bad Christmas movie. You know, the ones where the Mother goes nuts over the smallest thing going awry? Well, yeah, that was me. The nutty, Christmas sweater wearing, Mother.

My thirteen year old son took my arm and said, "Mom, let's go. Please."

I lingered for a moment, hoping to catch Santa's eye. Surely if he saw how distraught I was he would offer to stay another minute and have one last picture with my oh-so-darling-children.

For a moment, I wished that I had re-applied my lip gloss and combed through my wind-blown hair. Maybe then I could have caught Santa's eye. [terrible, I know]

Santa wasn't budging. Neither was his elf man.

Off we walked into the bleak blur of hustle and bustle. Tears stung my tired eyes. I couldn't keep them from running down my face.

I failed. No Santa picture. No nothing.

I wasn't sure if I was more upset about not having the picture with Santa, or embarrassing myself trying to bribe the elf man. Ugh.

Eventually, I succumbed to the fact that this year we would have no Santa picture. Oh well. The world would not end.

Until the next day...

I had a revelation! There was another mall! I could take the kids to see Santa there! This time, I called the mall. They assured me that Santa would be there ALL day.

He was. Until it was time for his break. The minute we walked up to see him. I am NOT kidding. The little elf girl told me to come back in an hour and a half.

WHAT?!!!!

I prayed for Jesus to take the wheel of my tongue. I had to bite my tongue down hard, and I mean hard.

I walked off with my kids shaking my head in despair.

We got half way to the car and I had an idea.

We went right back to the Santa picture line where everyone had left for their hour and a half break. [good grief]  I told my kids to sit right down in Santa's chair and I would take their picture. [I thought this was a brilliant idea!]

However, my kids were too scared to sit in Santa's chair without him there. [I may or may not have rolled my eyes]

Biting my tongue I replied, "Fine. Just stand there and I will take your picture."

"But Mom, what if they see us and we get in trouble?"

I responded, "I DARE them to say something."

The kids smiled. The crazy momma [me] took the picture. And off we went.

We got our picture. Just without Santa. [picture at bottom of post]

I was happy. They were happy. It was a wrap.

So, I learned a few things these last couple of days.

One...take the kids to see Santa earlier!

Two...I have issues.

Three...I really should have better control over my flesh in times like these.

Four....Praying saved me from making front page of the local newspaper for not controlling my emotions.

Five.... the world will not end if things don't go exactly like I plan. In fact, it just makes for a better story to talk about next year.

We will laugh about this, life will go on, and I will have  picture to frame for my kitchen counter. It will just be Santa-less.

That's okay. Christmas is about Jesus. The Joy He brings. The Peace He brings. Especially to a distraught Christmas-sweater wearing momma.

Merry Christmas, friends!

 May His Love surround you and may His Peace cover you.


But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11


Monday, December 1, 2014

You are Ten....

a sweet cake for a sweet girl!

admiring your yummy cake!

a morning walk this Summer with you on St. Simon's Island

blowing out TEN candles as family looks on!

celebrating at Mama Jane's with pizza and strawberry cake!

Your birthday morning---you are TEN!

checked you out early on your birthday!
 we were sitting in line at carpool waiting to get Joseph!

my baby girl with curlers in your hair
the night before you turned 10!!


Dear Presley Jane,

As I type, you, Daddy, and Joseph are out having dinner with Maw Maw and Paw Paw. I am devastated to not be there. As you know, I woke up sick this morning. It started yesterday. You prayed last night with tears in your eyes that I would not be sick today--on your big birthday.

I would give anything to be cooking your favorite meal, spaghetti, tonight. However, you know I will make it up to you as soon as mommy is better.

I just wanted to take a minute and tell you how much you mean to me.

You are the sunshine in my days.

You were born on a cold December day, but you are absolute WARM SUNSHINE.

The little things that you do, that make you so perfectly you, make me melt.

Your toes are my favorite. I have been obsessed with them since you were born.

Your dimple on the top of your left cheek. It is the most precious little feature I have ever seen.

My favorite thing to do with you is snuggle in my bed. We love watching movies together while the boys are in the den watching sports. You are forever my girl.

Sometimes, as a mommy, I feel guilty that I am not doing enough. I guess all mommy's feel this way sometimes. I constantly question myself and wonder if you know how much I love you.

Do I spend enough time with you? Am I too strict? Too lenient?

I am constantly trying to make sure I am a good momma to you.

You will probably have these same thoughts when you are a momma. You can read this letter again, and rest assure that you are not alone.

Your daughter or son will adore you. It's not about doing everything right, or being perfect, it's just about being there. A smile. A hug. A kiss. Encouragement.

As a mommy, there are many distractions that are tempting to lure us away from our kids and our families. I can only imagine that by the time you are a mommy, it will even be much harder.

Presley, don't let the world pull you away from the ones you love. It will try. Really hard.

Pray to the Lord and ask Him to help you keep your life in proper order. God first. Your husband and your kids next. Nothing is more important than the time you are given to spend with your family.

Sometimes I wish I could just keep all of you in this house, and never let you go. I want to soak up every single ounce of you. I don't want to miss a moment with you.

Daily, I pray that God will give me the strength to watch you and Joseph grow up. I know He will.

However, even when you are grown, I will still have a very  important role. Your mother. This job never ends. It's in full-demand at all times.

I need my mother just as much today as I did when I was your age. Just in different ways.

God created mothers to care, nurture, support, encourage, cheer on, listen, and talk to. This goes on your whole life! How happy this makes me!!

Presley, I will make mistakes. I have made many already. However, I know that that's not what you will remember. You will remember the times when I wasn't trying. When I was just being your mother. Loving you.

I am still in absolute AWE by the fact that the Lord gave you to us to raise.

He must have thought we were the perfect family for you. How BLESSED we are!!!

I love you, Presley Jane Hill.

Happy 10th birthday, our angel.


love,

mommy






Thursday, September 18, 2014

Because I need them....

I have had some things going on with some very close loved ones. It's been hard.

Today, I sat down and wrote down some scriptures for a friend going through something. As I was typing them, I realized God wanted me to know them too. He wants me to rest in them. Really, rest in them.

He wants me to not just know them, but believe them.

He is our Rock. Nothing else will hold, friends.

We must trust Him with the details. Peace comes rushing in when we let Him do His thing.

Insert your name, or a loved one's name in the scripture. It is powerful. See for yourself. :)


The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 3:18

A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense Proverbs 19:11 


 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

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'" 2 Chronicles 20:17

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Psalm 35:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness James 3:18

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14

The LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you will only move upward and never downward if you listen to the LORD your God’s commands I am giving you today and are careful to follow them. Deuteronomy 28:13

Friday, September 12, 2014

On my back porch.....

Sometimes life moves so fast that we miss the little things. The things that we think will always be there.

Tonight, Lem and I had a rare few hours on the back porch together. Presley is away at a friend's house, and Joseph was inside reading a good book.

The days in our house are crazy and busy, and we are constantly running from one place to another. I hardly ever get to see my husband. And when I do, we are both tired, exasperated, and ready to go unwind. He unwinds by the television, I unwind by going to sleep. :)

Another day goes by, another moment in time passed.

We awake the next day to another dizzying life.

Here's the thing....

I know all of this is fleeting. It goes by so fast.

At times my heart gets so jolted by this realization that it can make me crumble. I have always been so utterly aware of these moments. These little moments in life that we sometimes miss because of the busy.

I hate busy.

Yet, tonight, in the quiet, in the dark, on the back porch....

I longed for busy.

I longed to hear Presley's voice asking me to help her with something.

I longed to hear all about Joseph's cool new book, or a story from his day at school.

I longed to hear little Danny's excited voice running through the house as he chases Presley and Joseph.

The quiet was too quiet. 

Lem was with me, so it wasn't that quiet, but it was deafening compared to our usual life.

I sat there, talking to Lem, with a huge lump in my throat.

I love our life. I love our family.

There is nothing that I want more than to be present in each moment with them. Every single moment.

The little things suddenly become the big things.

The only things, really.

I used to have such big dreams for my life. When my children get older I will ___________.

I don't remember those dreams anymore, nor do I want to.

I just want to live where I am....forever. Or until God calls me home.

Seasons change, things change. I know this.

However, I want to look back on each season with a smile that I lived it fully. Fully present.

As God would have it, my friend sent me a sweet note in the mail today.

She wrote this: "choosing to do the small things with GREAT love is what changes people's lives. Never stop, never quit....the little things are ALWAYS the BIG things."

How did God know I needed those words today?

He always does, doesn't He?

As the dark grew deeper out on that back porch tonight, Lem took my hand and asked me to dance with him.

I obliged.

With a lump in my throat, we started to dance.

It was one of those little moments, that will be remembered as a big moment.


Thank you, Father, for this life. Thank you for making my childhood dreams come true. Being a wife, being a mother.....these are the BIG things. 







Sunday, August 31, 2014

Avoiding Extremes....

When bad things happen around me, I tend to go in lock down mode.

Let me explain.

When I hear the horrible news of children getting cancer, or young mothers and fathers coming down with deadly diseases, I panic.

I tend to think that surely there is something I can do to protect my loved ones. Surely if we consume more organic fruits, veggies, and vitamins, we will be spared.

God recently pointed me to some of the most powerful words in scripture that He has ever shown me. He may as well have knocked me over the head with a brick. It was that profound.

It was a normal day. I had visited our local "health" food store and spent more money than was in my budget that week. Of course, I rationalized it as "doing something good for my family."

I came home, and went to one of my favorite health/natural living blogs. I was making sure I got all of the vitamins and concoctions that she had told me that I needed to keep my family "safe".

Check. I had everything. We were "safe".

Later that day, I was having my quiet time with the Lord. Just sitting there doing my thing, flipping through the Bible and asking Him to speak to me.

He did. Big time.

Here is the first verse He showed me:

“Do not call conspiracy
    everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
    and do not dread it.
 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
    he is the one you are to fear,
    he is the one you are to dread.
Isaiah 8:12-14


I was fearing what people fear. I was putting my faith and trust in worldly things instead of in Christ Jesus. It was crystal clear what He was telling me.

The next verse He showed me brought such a relief to my soul. I will write this verse down and tape it up in my kitchen. Maybe even tattoo it to my wrist, although it is long, so maybe my thigh. :)

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.  Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." I Timothy 4:1-8

God is telling me that I should not fear what goes into my body, or what does not go into my body. He is bigger than vitamins, organic chicken, and phosphate-free soap. Pray before eating. Give thanks to Him before eating. Put my trust in Him, not the cleanness of my food.

He is the One that keeps me safe. If I reverse the order and make "safety" an idol, I move Him out of first place in my life.

If I look to the world to "preserve" my temporal body in a way that is out of balance with my trust and faith in His protection,  then I live in a self-made, self-protected illusion.

My goal here on Earth is to work on the eternal treasures, not on the temporal. My body is temporal. It will not be with me, at least in the sense of how it is now. My spirit will go on, the gifts of the Spirit will live in eternity.

The Lord freed me that day. He was telling me to pray before I partake in any food. Give thanks for that food. And enjoy.

I am set free from the self-condemning thought of not always being able to feed my kids organic, grain-fed, grass-fed, or whatever else kind of "fed" I am told I should be feeding them. I cannot keep up. I never will. The list is too long.

I will instead pray for guidance from Him, and not the world. I will pray for Him to lead me in this daunting task of motherhood and protecting my kids. I cannot do it without Him. I cannot do it with the world's wisdom.

However, I can do it with His help. With prayer, and thanksgiving, I can do this. I can live a guilt-free, fear-free life of freedom in Christ.


"So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law." Galatians 5:1

My prayer is that God will take away any desire of my flesh that wants to "preserve" it. I am asking Him to preserve the "eternal" in my life. To not just preserve the eternal but to grow it and give me craving and burning desire for those things.

The fruits of the Spirit that will live on in eternity....


 love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.

I want to grow these fruits. I want to focus on these things and not self-preservation.

Please hear me when I say that I am not saying we should neglect our bodies and abuse them with things that we know to be hazardous. Or, that we should not have a desire to be healthy.

I am saying that our desire to be healthy should be kept in check and in balance. Our desire to be physically healthy should not overrule our desire for our spiritual health.

We should read labels, we should be aware of what goes into our bodies. However, we should be the most concerned with the eternal fruit that comes forth from our spirits.

"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17


"It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city." Ecclesiastes 7:18-19

I can breathe a sigh of relief that I am not in charge. I never was. God is sovereign, and He always has been. I will trust Him, I will listen for His voice, and I will enjoy life instead of fearing it.


breathing a sigh of relief,


jill



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thirteen....

Dear Joseph,

You know the story of  the day you were born. I have told you all of the details.

You were crying on the table next to me as they washed you off, combed your hair, took your measurements, and all those things doctors and nurses do.

I looked over at you as the doctors were still fixing me up, and you looked right at me. More like right through me.

You immediately stopped crying.

That moment, I knew that my heart would never be mine again.

You are now thirteen. You still have my heart, and you always will.

I love your smile.
I love your laugh.
I love your compassion for others.
I love your gentleness.
I love your kindness.
I love when you write stories, because you are such a gifted writer.
I love to watch you play basketball.
I love our talks.
I love blow drying your hair in the morning.
I love watching you live life.
I love to be with you.

Pulling off a surprise birthday party for you was HARD. But, it was so worth it seeing your face as you realized what was happening.

You said several times, "I feel like I am in a dream!".

I love you, darling.

"I love you, you love me. That's the way it will always be."  [our line]

Happy Birthday!!

waiting for you to pull in the drive way!


Your face says it all!
Surprise!!



Hugging Aunt Kim

Ashley, Chase, Danny, and Graham tell you hello!

Royce and Joseph

lots of food!

Maw Maw and Joseph


Cookie cake!!

Uncle Lee and Aunt Angie

Singing to you!

Love that face!

Make a wish!



Christian, Dylan, and Lee

Cali, Presley, Ann-Joy

Dylan, Kim, Griffin 

Amberlee loves the Jaynes!

Dylan and Amberlee

lem must be telling a really funny story!

Papa, Joseph, and Nana

Big hugs for Kim!



Cousin love!

Momma and Joseph 

presents!


Some good stuff!





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Lesson to Remember....


The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.
Psalm 23

My daughter struggles with fear from time to time. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this family.

Night time is the hardest for her. She gets fearful many nights.

This one particular night, she had gotten into bed and I told her I would be there shortly to tuck her in.

I took a little longer than expected, and when I finally turned the corner to go to her room, I stopped dead in my tracks.

My daughter was whispering Psalm 23 through tears. She stumbled through the words, but she kept reciting the Psalm over and over.

My heart melted right there in that hallway outside of her bedroom.

The Lord revealed something to me in that moment that I will never forget.

I will not always be able to be with my children, but He will.

There are so many times when I want to be the one to soothe them, to nurse their fears and scary moments away. I want them to know I will always be there to dry their tears, take away their pain.

But, when I am not there, what will they do? How will they cope?

God showed me right there in that hallway that my children need to be taught to depend on Him in these moments.

As they grow older, and further away from the safety of my arms, they need to know where their true security lies...with Him. Not me.

Soon after my daughter prayed and recited Psalm 23, she fell asleep peacefully. You have no idea how much I wanted to wake her up and tell her that I was right there outside of her room. I wanted to tell her that I was just about to go tuck her in and soothe her fears.

However, I didn't.

I knew the Lord was teaching me, as well as her. My job is to train her up in the way she should go, not to train her up to depend on her momma.

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


My daughter is learning where her strength and peace lie. Her momma is learning the same lesson.


training in progress,


jill

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hill-Ramsey Celebration....

 
This weekend we celebrated the marriage of Mama Jane and Mr. Rick.
 
We had the best time!
 
Fun, family, friends, and LOVE!
 
What is better than that?
 
Enjoy the Hill-Ramsey Wedding pictures!
 
We love you, Jane & Rick!
 
5-17-2014