Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seriously God? and a GIVE-AWAY (Take 2)

Just over a month ago, I shared a post with the same title! (You can read it HERE.) That post led to comments about a book with the same title, Seriously God? by Jenny Smith. Which has now led to the this post, one that will close with your opportunity to win a copy of Jen's book for yourself.

Early in August, Jen contacted me and offered to give me a copy of her book since I'd asked the same question and she graciously offered a copy for me to give-away as well. I told her I'd do it towards the end of the here we are!

"Seriously God?" is a thought that runs through my mind quite often...sometimes it is accompanied with excitement, others anxiety, but today I want to share a time when those words were spoken with tears.

Four years ago today, I found myself in a Dr.'s office so he could confirm what I already knew - we were losing our fourth child. I was having a miscarriage. I would never hold the child I'd already come to love.

There were tears, lots of tears. There was pain - physical, emotional and spiritual as well. And anger and things I didn't understand.

Still, I think I can replay a conversation, "Seriously God, you create me to love the life that's growing in me, only to take it away? Seriously God, why? Why does it hurt so much? Seriously God, this is the plan you have for me? Seriously God, you expect me to walk thru this hurt when so many don't understand?"

There were lots of bad things, feelings and emotions, but there was also peace, comfort and strength.

"Seriously God, she just shows up with a meal? Seriously God, heaven is for real and my baby is there!! Seriously God, I'm the one with the loss, but you've comforted me so I can comfort others."

Now four years later, I find myself thinking those same two words, "Seriously God." That can be a question, but you know it's also quite the statement!

Friend, I'm serious when I say God has brought me to a place where I can face the anniversary of one of the hardest times of my life and say, "God had a purpose for it all." Exactly all that purpose entails? I don't know, but He has given me bits and pieces. And honestly, I trust Him with the rest.

That's not saying I won't grieve the little one we lost, but I will thank Him for the 5 kiddos I will squeeze a little tighter today!

So friend, how about you, have you ever asked the same question? Share about it in the comments...I love to hear your stories and it enters you to win a copy of Seriously God? - I'm Doing Everything I Know to Do and It's Not Working. Remember be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!! Check back on Tuesday when the winner will be announced!

I'm praying you are blessed in whatever SERIOUSLY GOD? situation arises in your life today!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More from the mess...

The other day I shared about a job I didn't want to do (you can read more by clicking HERE) - the quick version of the story is this: my potty training son had a mess in his pants and I didn't want to clean it up. Ever been there?

As I was in the process I was reminded I'm a mess and Jesus cleans me up...such a powerful truth!!

Son now more from the mess -

I was about to finish the job I didn't want to do and caught a glimpse of my little guy's grin, one that always melts my heart, so I gave him a hug, told him I loved him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

So what did my little guy do? He smirked, shared a quick giggle and wiped away my kiss. Right now that's the fun little thing he does; but as I watched him, God told me, "Jill, you do the same thing."

"I clean up your mess and show you I love you. Then I tell you you're beautiful and wrap my arms around you and what do you do? You push me away."

Friend, have you been there? You know God does wonderful things for you, but you don't feel worthy of receiving them? Or you confess your sin and then believe satan's lie that once God sees your mess He'll want nothing to do with you. Do you push Him away?

Can I encourage you a parent who cleans up my children's messes D-A-I-L-Y, I still love them. Their messes remind me they need me. Friend, God is the perfect parent, the One who created us...He knows our mess and sees it (sometimes before we even do) and He loves you and me! And because of these messes, ones we can't clean up on our own, He knows we need Him!

So, today would you embrace Him? Allow His love to fill you instead of wiping His kisses away!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I didn't want to do it!

I'm beginning to see a theme - in my last post I wrote about being a mess and in this one I'm going to share about cleaning one up.

Earlier today, my 2 year old son came into the house and he'd obviously messed his pants. He's been potty training, but over the last few weeks has went without any accidents, so I'd thought I was past this fun task for awhile!

Not so much...I set my agenda aside and went into the bathroom to do something I really didn't want to do! It was a mess and cleaning it up really wasn't on my list for the day. But you know, it wasn't on anyone else's list either, so I did what every Mom does and cleaned it up.

As I was doing the dirty work and honestly thinking, I really don't want to do this; I was reminded of my previous post - I too am a MESS and somebody has to clean me up.

Wow, did that put things in perspective!

Take a minute and look at Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” In my mind, I can translate Jesus opening words to sound just like mine - going to the cross was really something He didn't want to do. Yet how did He close His prayer? Jesus was all about God's will not His own.

Now cleaning up a dirty, stinky two year does not compare to Jesus death on the cross, but (though I hate to say it) there are endless comparisons between by my son and me - there's dirt in my past and my sin stinks! Could you say the same?

I pray you do because honesty is how we deal with the mess; we can't clean it up if we don't admit it's there. Friend, though I didn't want to clean up my son - I did. I love him and as his mom I was created to take care of him! In the same way, Jesus didn't want to clean up our sin by dying on the cross, but He did. He loves us and was created to take care of us!

He was also created to do the work His Father called Him to and so are what's on your "I don't want to do it list" today? Follow Jesus's example and do the work He calls you to!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm a...

How would you complete the above statement? I asked some friends and there were numerous responses...many that did not surprise me. I heard, "I'm a Mom, friend, daughter, disciple, sinner, writer, coach, teacher, wife..." There were many roles shared that I play, but I'll be honest the last couple of days the word that best completes the statement for me is: MESS!

It's true, I am a MESS!

Does that surprise you? I am afraid it might and that's not a good thing. But I know I'm one who's quick with the "I'm fine" response and I often find myself saying "things are going pretty good."

That's true - my family is healthy, my marriage is a healthy work in progress and we have a home where there's plenty to eat. So on one hand things are good, but on the other hand I'm not always good and my life's not perfect. Let me just give you a glimpse -

A week ago, God showed me HE is so very faithful! He truly does more than we could ever ask or imagine. I was honestly overwhelmed by His goodness and power. But 7 days later, I found myself doubting...initially I was doubting myself; but I realize if it's God who works thru me, really that means I'm doubting Him.

Isn't that nice...someone who calls herself a Christian, one who saw God work powerfully just days ago doubts God? It's true, I am a MESS!

In case you need more evidence...last weekend God stirred up much in my heart, challenged me and confirmed some things. I was encouraged and renewed. A couple of days passed and at times I found myself discouraged thinking about all that was on my plate. I realize I can't do it all, but that tempts me to do N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

Lovely...the girl who encourages others and reminds them that "with God all things are possible" doesn't always believe that promise is for her as well. Obviously I am a MESS!

Then finally...just the other day I read an interview with Lisa Whittle in which she responded to a survey of Christian women...many who are FINE just like me. And perhaps like you. As I read, I was disappointed.

Guess what these women said was their number 0ne sin? Disorganization...really? Granted I struggle with that, but what about selfishness, laziness, pride, doubt? I had a quick little conversation with God - shared some thoughts and asked some questions. One in particular, "God when are women going to own their stuff?" And He simply whispered back, "It could start with you."

Well, let's just say if I wasn't already feeling like a bit of MESS...this would have taken me there. Like I said the survey results had left me disappointed and though I wasn't one who took the survey...I was one of them.

At times I hide behind the mask, I play the "I'm fine" game and pretend like all is well. When really I am a mess! Honestly walking in faith isn't always easy...though us Christians sometimes do a good job of making it look that way. Following Christ doesn't come natural and accepting Him does not make our mess go away.

So why do we pretend it does? I really don't know. But I'm going to borrow a line from Lisa, "I'm so over that." She shared that with us at the retreat and I know she meant it with all her heart, so now I share it with you and pray God will help me live in a way that proves I mean it as well.

How about you? Are you over it? Did the survey results bother you? (Read more HERE!) If so what are you going to do about? Remember, if we want others to own their stuff, we better own ours first!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Worth Repeating

This past weekend I attended the ReNEWed Life Women's Event, and was also blessed to be part of the leadership team. It was a privilege and a joy for many reasons, but honestly it involved some work and responsibility. There are so many things I could say and perhaps in time I will, but now...2 A.M. in the morning now, God has this message on my heart...

Lisa Whittle shared the following statement with us,

"Jesus gave His life for you...why not give yours to Him?"

I jotted those words down knowing God would bring them up again. And He has.

You see much has been going thru my mind since own thoughts, reactions others have shared and comments I have read. Good stuff, but God is challenging me. And I pray He will challenge you as well.

People were stirred at this event, which is a good thing. They were reminded of a God they love and better yet of a God, the God, who loves them. This stirring takes us to a place where we want to do something and that's good, but sometimes in the doing I forget about the about you?

And during these moments of memory loss, I can focus on this one big thing (like God compartmentalizes the work we do for Him...that is such a human trait) that I fail at being who He made me to be. And friend, that leads to trouble.

God isn't asking me to write a book, He doesn't necessarily want you to start a ministry or need you to accomplish a certain task...He wants your L-I-F-E in exchange for the one His Son laid down. Give that to Him, all of it, and He just might write a book with your name on the cover or start a ministry and put you in leadership. These things we do aren't the important piece of the puzzle, but the reason we do them is.

We serve a God who wrote the only book that really matters and are disciples of Jesus, the One who's ministry is the greatest there will ever be.

Honestly nothing I do will compare to that, so I'm choosing to give my life to after day, moment after moment trusting He will do with it what He wants, knowing He has plans far better than mine and believing He will equip me to complete them.

So what do you think? Have you been giving God your life or simply the things you do? There is a difference...I encourage you to think about it today.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal. 2:20

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Make some noise...

The other day I stumbled across a poem I'd written a few years back and I actually stopped to read it. As I was doing this, my youngest son was napping and my oldest daughter burst through the door singing, loudly. I jumped up to hush her and reminded her it was nap time. She obliged and simply asked, "Mom, when can we just make some noise?" I replied, "Later or else you could go back outside."

She chose the latter and I continued with the poem, the one I'd titled, "How Can We Be Silent?" Take a minute and read it for yourself -

“How Can We Be Silent?”
The world is hurting and
He can heal the pain.
The problems are endless and
He is the answer.
Relationships are broken and
He can make them better.
People are suffering and
He provides comfort.
Countries are at war and
He offers peace.
Everyone makes mistakes and
He grants forgiveness.
Our lives are a mess and
He can wash them clean.
The world has a need and
only Jesus can fill it.
How can we be silent,
when He can do so much?

I came to the end of my words and felt God rephrase Joy's as He whispered to my heart, "Jill, when are you going to make some noise?" It's not that He wanted me to sing like my daughter (Thank you LORD!!), but friend He wants me (and you) to speak up for Him. And you know as well as I do, our families, friends, neighbors and the strangers we meet need us to be a voice for Him.

Not even three weeks ago I attended a conference called She Speaks, but I've been reminded those two words don't just describe an event I was blessed to attend, but it's something I need to do. Friend would you like to join me? Let's commit to making some noise for Jesus!!

"She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

Proverbs 31:26

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

She Speaks '12 - My One Thing

I've been home for 10 days and I finally feel like I can name my one thing from She Speaks. There were so many things and so much God spoke to my heart that I've struggled to name one thing. I've prayed and tried to process through it all, and two words keep coming back. Five simple letters that when strung together make a powerful statement, actually they are my one thing!


Let me explain...Sunday morning Whitney Capps gave an amazing talk and in it she shared her desire to cover up a mistake she had made, but instead God told her to "own it!" This was not at all the main point of her message, but it was a sticky little statement God has used in my head for the last 10 days.

He has spoken to me about owning my mistakes and owning my sin, but He's used it in another way as well. You see during those three days in North Carolina, God confirmed some things He has had on my heart, He encouraged me and He reminded me of who I am.

Since I've returned home, life, satan and doubt have tried to erase the messages I heard. Reality tells me this will never happen. The chaos of life can leave me thinking there's no time to do what He's asking me to do. My sinful nature causes me to stumble and I think someone else would do it better.

Then God whispers to me, the same words He shared with Whitney, two simple words. Five ordinary letters that make me cry.


I hear Him whisper to my heart, "Own your calling Jill. Remember in Wendy's session I reminded you, I have called you. Own it. I created the work (Eph. 2:10) and I'll complete it (Phil. 1:6). You just have to own it."

These words are not just for my calling, no, the creator of the universe has this to say as well, "Jill, own your gifts. Don't forget Micca repeating what she told you 3 years ago, your writing is a I gave to you, now use it to serve Me. (1 Peter 4:10) She believes in you, and so do I."

The LORD doesn't stop there, He's been reminding me to take possession of one more thing...listen to what He's had to say, "Own your identity Jill. You went to She Speaks with a book proposal about this very topic...don't just write about who you are, live as who I made you to be: My chosen child, a dependent daughter, a loved lady and a gifted girl. The world will try to convince you this isn't true, but own it. The choice is yours."

Friend I hope you don't have to board a plane to understand this truth, but can I encourage you to own it?!

Own your mistakes...we can't fix them if we don't claim them.
Own your sin...we can't be forgiven if we don't acknowledge the need.
Own your calling...we can't fulfill it if we don't believe it.
Own your gifts...we can't use them if we don't recognize them.
Own your identity...we can't be who we are if we're too busy pretending we're someone else.

If you attended She Speaks, I'd love to hear about your one thing! And if God's whispered to you as you read about mine, I'd love to join you in prayer as we journey towards owning all that's ours! Leave a comment and I'll try to stop back and join the conversation! Thanks!