Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

This is the question GOD had on my mind in the early hours this morning. And as I thought it was interesting to reflect on the answers I would have given through the years -

As a child, it meant a trip to Grandpa and Grandma's and also was a marker on the calendar, Christmas wasn't far away!!

As a high schooler, it meant basketball was here and games were about to begin! Back in the day we played in a holiday tourney, so in my mind Thanksgiving really was "Game time" Eve.

In those days, Thanksgiving basically was another day on the calendar. Special simply because it brought me one step closer to what I wanted.

I'm thankful it has taken on a whole new dimension over the last 10 years! Primarily because I now understand it's really not what I'm thankful for, but because of Who I'm giving thanks to.

Now Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of reflecting and reminders. The day always reminds me of our engagement - 10 years ago tonight my husband pruposed after our Thanksgiving Eve services. What a great memory!

And as I reflect on the years we've shared I realize I have much to be thankful for - a husband who loves me more today than he did then; 4 children who sometimes drive me crazy, but always bless my day; wonderful extended family; amazing friends; a warm home; a church family that helps me grow; opportunities to serve; the list goes on...

But last night after reading a post about how sometimes the holidays are hard because life is hard - relationships are broken, finances are low, lives on earth come to an end, things change. Holidays can cause us to remember the way things were and leave us missing what was and though it's good to be thankful for what was, this morning I got to thinking we must also remember to be thankful for what is.

If we are followers of Christ and truly believe He does work all together for the good who love Him, we should be thankful in (not necessarily for) all circumstances. Perhaps it's not what we want, planned or expected, but He is in control and has a purpose.

Finally even more than the "counting your blessings" and "thankful for" lists what truly is important on this day of Thanksgiving is giving thanks! In Old Testament times, there were thank offerings given and I believe God asks us to do that yet today, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? And more importantly what offering of thanks will you give to your Father and Lord this holiday?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


With Thanksgiving two days away, many plans are being made and the work has begun. As I make my grocery list and prepare for time with family I got to thinking about leftovers. Crazy I know!! Really who goes into one of the biggest feasts of the year thinking about leftovers?

I think a conversation with my grandma triggered see the other day she was sharing with me how she didn't know if she'd be hosting Thanksgiving this year. She's 80, so we all understand! Then she shared the deciding factor - one of her great-granddaughters had told her mom, "I'm coming home for Thanksgiving - I don't want to miss G'ma B's dinner!" Grandma was so touched, you see in her mind her cooking is no big deal, but to Kylie it was special.

As I thought about this - my Grandma's reaction and Kylie's desire, I smiled, but then took things a step deeper. My Grandma would have graciously made up a plate to send home with Kylie's family so she could be with her boyfriend, but she didn't want the leftovers. They didn't excite her. That's not what she's been looking forward to over the last few weeks every time she eats another college meal.

While my mind processed this, God spoke to my heart, "Jill, your husband and kids don't desire or deserve leftovers either." Wow, so true! But God didn't stop there; He went on to say, "And neither do I." Wow, that hurts, but it's a fact. And sometimes the truth hurts.

The truth is I have been loving and serving my family and my Father, but honestly sometimes it's been more of a have to than able to. And others it's after my to-do list is done. In my last post I wrote about cutting back, which is necessary if I don't want to keep serving my family leftovers.

Once again my grandma serves as a wonderful example for me - she is excited about serving up a feast for her family. She is looking forward to the prep work and I know she will do it with joy in her heart. She will treasure the time she shares with the 40+ family members on Thursday. Her focus will be the feast, not the leftovers.

In the days ahead, I pray that will be my focus as well! I know my husband, children and especially my Lord will be appreciative of it and just like my grandma, I will be blessed because of it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Time for a Trim

Over the last few weeks God has really been working on my heart to slow a wife, Mom, homeschooler, MOPS leader and member of a women's ministry team I have been busy. And last week we added illness to the mix - then things were messy and I was tired. But as I sat up in the wee hours trying to comfort my little man, God worked to do the same with me.

You see He'd been "messing" with me - in a good way, but yet it was hard. So I sat there crying out to Him, "God what do you want me to do?"

And then a picture of my little Joy came to mind and I saw myself trimming her bangs - now initially I thought, Jill focus and honestly I did not know why my mind was thinking of this. But then the picture changed, I saw her face in a new way - a better way, a more complete way and then God said to me, "Jill, if you cut back in your life you will see me better too."

Wow!! I'm still not sure what He will be trimming from my life, but I'm willing to let Him and I look forward to seeing more clearly and am excited to see HIM in bigger and better ways!

How about you, "Is it time for a trim?" I think of my little Joy again and this is never something she chooses to do. In her words, "It feels funny. I want to play instead." And I know I've said similar things, "But God it hurts. It's change. I want to do..." Just like I know what's best for my little girl, God knows and wants what's best for me, and you.

So today will you join me in handing him the scissors and simply being still so He can do what He needs to do?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Worth Remembering

The other day I sat down with my notes from Rise and Shine and was blessed by the time of reflection. I also realized there were many points worth remembering! I have to believe they just might be beneficial for you as well, so below you will find 10 key points and quotes that Lysa TerKeurst shared with us -

* "Let God write your kids' testimony." That is so true and so important and as a Mom who wants the best for my kids' I know sometimes it will also be hard, but He is trustworthy!

* "Remember who you are!" A child of the Creator of the world. A daughter of the King! A girl who is loved, forgiven, chosen and blessed!!

* "I don't have to...I am able to." All too often it's easy to lose perspective and look at my never ending to do list in a negative way, but really God is giving me opportunities to shine for Him in the daily, mundane, ordinary events of the everyday.

* "Don't build the stability of your identity on the fragility of other's choices." Wow, that says a lot! All too often I define myself by what others say, my kid's behavior or the actions of others which I have no control over. When really my identity is in Christ alone!!

* "God created us to be not do." I led a breakout reflection group and one of the gals commented on this by saying, "Isn't it easier to do than be? God asks me to lead a Bible study...OK, but then He asks me to sit with Him for 20 minutes and I don't have time." Again another quote that provides a perspective check. I must strive to do what's important to God - the doing will flow out of the being!

* "Never give up!!" Lysa shared about her Bible friend, a gal who at a time drove her crazy, but in the end one who God used to speak truth into her life. People need to hear and when God prompts me to share, I must. The planting and watering is my responsibility, God will do the growing.

* "God changes us when we obey." So so true. I sat there as the day came to an end and marveled at all God had done and I was blessed to be a part of it. For me the amazing thing was though the day was wonderful, God really had taught me just as much in the journey.

* "Feelings are indicators not dictators." Feelings can lie, mine often do! They may indicate a problem, but they should never be the basis for a decision or alter my thoughts about a situation or even myself.

* "God doesn't need prayer, I do." True, true, true!! Prayer was a huge part of Rise and Shine and now as I reflect on it, I know God heard us and answered us. But I'd never heard this statement before and God has proven the truth of these words in my life - I need prayer, I need time with HIM!!

* "Make peace with reality." The truth is none of us live in the perfect world and none of us have had the ideal life - bad things have happened, poor decisions have been made and times have been tough and no matter what I do, I can't change what's been done nor can I change anyone but myself. But daily I can become more, I can choose to seek HIM, serve HIM, see HIM and believe matter the circumstance, the reality is HE is there and that's a reality I can make peace with!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rise and Shine 2010

The day came and the day went…God was present and He provided! In attempt to update anyone who is unaware - Rise and Shine is a women’s retreat that was held this past Saturday. I’ve been blessed, honored and humbled to be a part of the team that God has entrusted to be responsible for the event. This year we were thrilled to have Lysa TerKeurst as our guest speaker and God spoke through her in wonderful ways!!

So back to the day that was…actually I’m going to begin on Thursday night - about 7 PM my little Joy started to get sick and she was my priority through the night, especially from midnight to almost 4 AM. By Friday morning she was feeling a bit better as in a “sick” little voice she assured me, “I’ll be OK.” I knew she would, but still saying good-bye was hard. This was the beginning of the reminders that God is in control and He will provide, strengthen and make a way!!

And make a way, HE did! Friday, the 4 of us along with some fabulous volunteers spent the day prepping - everything from preparing retreat guides, nametags, decorating, last minute registrations… And it all went well! I missed this step last year, but all the others agreed it was much smoother and faster too. Again, it’s in God’s hands!

Then around 5 I received a call from Holly, Lysa’s assistant that they were near the church and looking to have supper prior to the practice and run-through. So we welcomed them to Iowa and they met real farmer’s wives and had a delightful conversation over supper. It truly was a joy to meet both Holly and Lysa! God is good and His people really are family!!

Everything that night went so well and ahead of schedule, that Rachel and I decided to make the hour and a half trip home to at least see our families even if that only meant while they were sleeping! I believe God truly provided that opportunity because it really put my heart at ease to have my healthy little Joy smile and send me off on Saturday morning! And I was blessed to start the day with my husband, who’s believed in me and Rise and Shine since day one!

And now I look back at the day and it was all so good, I wish each of you could have been there, but that’s not realistic so I’ll share some highlights - we started the day in the prayer room, which is where our hearts have been all along! This year we’ve made prayer a much bigger priority and God responded to that!! From there we moved to the volunteer meeting and it was on my heart to share 1 Corinthians 3:6,7 “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” Because really that’s what this was all about!!

The day began and before I knew it Lysa was finished with her testimony and closing in prayer. During this time she explained the difference between religion and a relationship with Christ in a beautiful way. It was then she invited women to accept Christ as their Savior or recommit their life to Him. With everyone’s eyes closed in a powerful time of prayer she asked these women to make eye contact with her in order to acknowledge their decision and as they did she “Praised God” with her mouth and I did with my heart.

This truly was the highlight of the day for me and has once again brought me to tears because it’s such a picture of answered prayer - hearts were touched and lives were changed. Seeds were planted and others watered, but God was doing the growing! As this session came to an end, I whispered to a fellow Rise and Shine team member, “The day could end right now and the retreat would have been wonderful.”

It didn’t end there, but this blog post will…until next time friends, I will share this - if God puts something on your heart - even if it seems crazy, beyond you, too hard, too much work, whatever the excuse, today I want to encourage you to say “YES!” Initially I didn’t want to, but I did and like Lysa says, “Our job is obedience…leave the results to GOD!!” He can do it!!

Remember Who You Are

This past weekend at Rise and Shine, Lysa TerKeurst shared a story about one of her sons - the story was hard for her, a Mom, to tell and I’m sure if you could talk to her boy, it’s been one that’s been a challenge to live. You see a poor choice was made and now the consequences must be dealt with, but this story was meant for us all - daily each one of us makes thousands of choices!

As we make these choices, whether they are actions we carry out, thoughts we let enter our mind or words that leave our mouth, we must remember who we are. I’ve spent some time thinking about this (what it means for me and my kids) and have been reminded that before we can remember who we are, we have to know WHOSE we are!

When we know Whose we are, we have a better idea of who we are! So today I ask you, “Who are you?” How does remembering this help you? Strengthen you? Challenge you? Please share!