Thursday, October 31, 2013


My little Jed-man recently turned 4 and instantly he now knows everything!! It's turning cold here in Iowa so as he heads out the door I tell him, "Jed, you need a coat." He responds, "I know!", but doesn't stop long enough to put one on. Then later in the day I tell him to pick up his guessed it, he says, "I know!" That evening while he's helping his big sister Joy make cookies I encourage him to listen to her and he again shares his famous phrase. Joy quickly responds, "Remember Mom, he knows EVERYTHING!!"

Initially, I laughed at her words because I was a bit thankful I wasn't the only one tired of this short little phrase, but the laughter didn't last long. It was then God spoke to my heart and said, "Jill though you don't verbalize those words you often respond in the same way." Can you say "OUCH?!?!"

As a Mom it was frustrating to hear and see my son respond this way. You see he knew, or claimed he did anyway, everything I said to him, but often chose to do nothing with that knowledge. He knew he needed a coat, but did he put one on? No. A few days of hearing this and seeing it were about enough to drive me crazy!!

Well, until God intervened and showed me I do the exact same thing!! I KNOW I should earnestly seek God, but as a busy wife and mom that means getting up EARLY, so do I always do it? No. I KNOW I should submit to my husband, but do I do it willingly and joyfully? No, not always. I KNOW I've been given the fruit of the spirit, but am I always patient? No. I KNOW God is faithful, but do I always trust and obey? The pattern continues - No.

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea....every time I'm frustrated with Jed's famous line God convicts me of using it myself. Friend, I believe God is leading me to share this story for a reason, two of them actually - one as an act of obedience and two because I'm not the only one who needs to be convicted.

Is there something in your life that you know but still choose to do nothing about? Perhaps YOU KNOW you need to forgive, but choose not to. Maybe YOU KNOW you need to trust God, but you still spend your days full of fear and waste time by worrying. Or YOU KNOW God wants a relationship with you, but you choose to run from Him.

Friend I don't know what you know but God does and just like I get frustrated with Jed I believe God as our Father gets frustrated with us when we do nothing with the knowledge we possess. Today can I encourage you to act upon what you know! 1 John 2:4 says, "Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." If we know Him let's do all we can to live like we do!!

Finally, here's a look at my Mr. Know It All, the boy who can frustrate his momma!! But know this, my love for him will always be bigger than the frustration caused by him! And as the perfect parent, the One who sacrificed His Son, I believe God says the same about me, and you. Oh today I pray we can live, act, serve, speak and love in a way that makes Him proud!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm glad you didn't quit!

The title of this post comes from words my husband spoke to me. I had just finished a task I really didn't want to do and one that took effort to complete. It was one I could have just left undone, something I considered, but didn't do. Anyway when it was all over, my husband looked at me and simply said, "I'm glad you didn't quit."

His words struck me because they came shortly after I had posted an entry titled, "Just Quit". My focus then was to quit listening to lies, worrying, striving to please people and a list of other things. There are so many things I need to quit doing, and maybe you do too, but as I listened to my husband I was remind there are just as many that I don't need to quit. Oh but how often I confuse the two!

So this simple statement and big truth got me thinking...what are the things I shouldn't quit? I can't quit doing the daily tasks that can get mundane like changing diapers, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, making meals and on and on. I can't quit disciplining my children, loving them, reading to them, spending time with them. I can't quit on my marriage and I can't quit on God. 

Friends will you think about this with me? Have you been tempted to quit on God? Have you quit on Him? Even when life is hard, with situations that make no sense and when relationships fall apart we can't quit seeking Him, trusting Him or obeying Him. 

I know this is hard, God often leads us out of our comfort zone and His plan rarely matches ours, but we must remember His ways are perfect and His plan is for good. Friend, you don't need my words to encourage you, but I trust God's will -

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." Philippians 3:12-15

"We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

So today when you are tempted to quit or God shows you that you already have, go to Him, remember what His word says and press on. Keep the faith and fight the good fight! (1 Timothy 6:12) I have to admit I appreciated my husband's words, but as I've thought about this I've been reminded someday God could share similar ones with me! Friend let's live in a way that we will hear Him!!

Today will you join me in trying to quit doing the things we shouldn't do and press on in the areas God calls us to! I believe if we do this we will one day hear Jesus' words from Matthew 25:21 - "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Monday, October 21, 2013

A lesson from "Hide and Seek"

"Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." 
Isaiah 55:6

Hide and seek is one of my kid's favorite games, especially on rainy days or right before bed. They enjoy finding the best hiding spot and the thrill of finding the one who's hid. The other day as they played this game, I thought about it a bit more.

Awhile back, I shared a story with a friend about someone, let's call him "Bob", who was spiritually hungry and sincerely seeking God. My friend then wrote back, "I love when people are seeking because God will show up big!" I read her words and they went to my heart. 

I was excited for "Bob", rightfully so, but through my friend's words God reminded me that I should be equally as excited for myself. Friends, it's not just new believers who God will show up big for. With that reminder, I was also challenged. I thought about "Bob" and the questions he asked, the desire he possessed and persistence he portrayed. I hate to admit, but now that I've found God, I don't always look for Him with the same zeal as "Bob". 

So back to my little people playing hide and seek...they were playing, but I was learning. God had something to teach me about seeking. Joy didn't stop looking when she spotted J.D.'s foot behind the couch; actually catching a glimpse excited her more! I watched this unfold and realized the same should be true as I seek God. 

I've had a glimpse of Him, His love, power and strength and now my prayer is that every glimpse will make me more determined to see more and more. I believe God will show up BIG for "Bob", but friend I also believe God wants to show up BIG for you and me! The question is: Are we willing to look for Him?

This is where God showed me a difference between my seeking in a spiritual sense and what my kids did while playing a game. They were looking for someone who had intentionally hid, while I'm looking for the ever present God, the One who's always here. Friends, He's there, we just have to look for Him.

So let me ask you: When it comes to seeking God are you more like my 4 year old Jed? One who's always excited and can't get enough of something he thinks is fun. Perhaps you can relate to my 10 year old J.D.? The game is fun for awhile, but then he's onto something more exciting. Or maybe you can relate to me, the mom - the one who's been there, done that and can think "Do I have to do this again? Because there are so many others things I need to do!!"

Oh how I long to seek Him always! And I'm praying He gives you the desire to do the same! Over the last few weeks God has led me on a journey to understand what seeking Him is all about; He's shown me much! I'd love to share a bit with you, but rather than my words, lets take a look at His!

God's Word tells us -
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deutoronomy 4:29

I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me. Proverbs 8:17

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. Jeremiah 29:12-14

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:25

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually. 1 Chronicles 16:11

Friends, if we seek Him...He'll let us find Him! Another way to look at the word is this: SEE KING - when we are seeking we will see the King!!

Finally, in my study this verse has challenged me in BIG ways - God is looking for those who seek Him, are you one He will find?!?

The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one. 
Psalm 14:2-3

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just Quit!

"Quitting is not an option!" was one of my favorite quotes growing up as an athlete. So was, "A winner never quits and a quitter never wins." As a basketball player I'd like to say I never quit on the court, but for those of you joining me from my devotional at the Encouragement Cafe, you know the same can't be said about me and my journey through life. (You can read my devotional, "The Girl Who Wanted to Die" by clicking HERE.)

In September of 1999, I found myself in the bottom of a pit called depression and felt I'd come to the end. I'd believed those quotes when it came to sports, but applying them to life was more of a challenge. I was ready to quit the game of life, but God intervened.

Thankfully, He kept me from dying physically, but in the process He's led me to die to myself! He continually asks me to live out Galations 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.“

I've been praying about what I should share here in response to my devotional and it seems God's led me to share some contrary advice, "Just Quit!" The former basketball coach in me can't believe I'm saying that, but because Christ is in me, I know that's what I need to do. And friend so do you!

I'll share the list God has given me:

Just QUIT listening to lies so that you can hear the voice of Truth.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, 
"If you abide in My Word, you are truly my disciples, and 
you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free." 
John 8:31-32

Just QUIT worrying so that you can trust Me with all your heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and 
lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Just QUIT living out of old insecurities so that you can be who I made you to be!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 
The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Just Quit busying yourself so that you can do what I ask you to do.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus 
to do good works, which God prepared 
in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Just QUIT holding onto bitterness so that you can forgive and be forgiven.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

Just QUIT running after your dreams so that My plan can unfold.
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

Just QUIT striving for other's approval so that you can earn mine!
The fear of man lays a snare, 
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25

Just QUIT living for yourself so that you can follow Me!
Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants 
to be my disciple must deny themselves 
and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Advising someone to quit is not something I do too often, but I pray as you read this list you've been reminded there are somethings we need to just quit. The sinful, selfish stuff we do has to go if we truly want to die to self so that Christ can live. 

Today, I encourage you to spend some time with God, ask Him what you need to quit and then pray for the strength and desire to do just that! Friends, He died so that one day we will live with Him forever, but we can make the choice to die today so that He can live through us now!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Don't Hold Back

On Thursday the Encouragement Cafe will be sharing a devotional I wrote. Now most writers would be excited about this opportunity, but prior to finding out if it had been selected, I found myself having second thoughts. Rather than dwell on this and play the what if wonder game, I went to prayer. I shared my worries and concerns with God, but then left it in His hands. I knew He gave me the words to write and I trusted Him to do with it what He wished.

About an hour later I received an email saying the devotional would run later in the week. I had peace and believed God had an answered my prayer. I again paused thanking Him for the opportunity and asking Him to speak through the words I'd shared.

Later in the day through a totally unrelated situation, He seemed to whisper to me, "Don't Hold Back." Thoughts immediately went to the it I share my struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide - not something I like to talk about, but I didn't hold back. I put my struggle out there with hope that someone else can learn from it or be encouraged by my story.

I thanked God for encouraging me with His words. But it seemed there was a bigger message He was trying to send. I read the devotional I wrote again and realized He had another lesson to teach.

It's true, God doesn't me, or you, to hold back when we are sharing our story. People need the real thing not just the details we pick and choose. That doesn't mean God wants us to share every detail, but He does expect us to obey Him completely!

In the devotional I wrote about dying to self and this is what God was trying to teach me as He whispered, "Don't Hold Back!" Galations 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires.” When it came to dying on the cross Jesus couldn't hold back, but friends when it comes to dying to self, do you hold back?

I have to admit sometimes I do, but God has reminded me that's not what He wants. He wants me to give up everything, to give Him 100% and He wants the same from you! We won't do this perfectly, but today will you commit to trying to do it better? Don't hold onto your desires, wants or attitudes, lay it down at the cross...that's what Jesus did, I pray we can do the same.

On a side note, God is also showing me I don't have to hold back when it comes to prayer or asking for help, so after asking Him, He's led me to you. Would you join me in praying for the devotional I wrote? That God would use it, that He'd speak to one person in a powerful way to remind them they matter and He has a purpose for them. Can I also ask you to pray for me? That I'd respond rightly to those who read of things in my past and that I would step up and live out the message that I shared....that I would put my flesh to death so that He can live in me and work through me. Thank you friends! If there's a prayer request you'd like to share, don't hold back, share it here and we'll lift it up! Blessings to you today!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Life is Full of Choices

Welcome to my new friends from Encouragement Cafe! It's a joy to share some words there today! If you'd like to read my devotional, click HERE.

This week at the Cafe they are talking all about putting others before ourselves and if you're like me, I'd guess you'd say that can be a struggle. If you're honest, I know you'd say it's been a place of failure at least once. The truth is we're all sinners and selfishness is a sin. So what do we do with that? How do we put others before ourselves?

I shared some thoughts in my devotional, but I've thought even more as I've attempted to write this post. The thing is, daily we have countless choices to make and numerous people to serve, how do we consistently make the right choice and live selflessly?

This is a question we may struggle with forever, but I believe the answer begins in Luke 10:41-42. It reads - “Martha, Martha,“ the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Simply making the decision to put others before myself is not enough. Why? I don't know if you ever tried this, but it doesn't work. Granted it may for a day or two, or better yet an hour or two, but eventually our strength runs out and desire fades away...simply said our flesh wins and selfishness can take over.

But if we make the same choice Mary made the outcome can be different. Think about what she CHOSE to do...spend time with her Lord, the One who would save her. This is a choice that will impact every decision we face.

The other morning as I prayed about what to share in this post God took me to Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." These words lined up with what He'd whispered earlier...putting others first begins with seeking Him. If I'm not putting God first, there's no way I'll ever put myself second.

You and I must go to Him so that He can fill us with His Spirit, power, strength, peace and perspective. He will fill us with ALL we need. The more we seek Him, the better we'll know Him which will help us make the choice that best glorifies Him!! 

Today I pray we'll all take some time and choose what Mary did...time spent with our Lord and Savior will equip us to make the best decisions in this life that is filled with choices!!

Kari Jobe has a song that speaks to this..."The More I Seek You"! Friends the more we seek Him, the more we love Him and the more we love Him the more we'll love the people He puts in our lives! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Becoming a Dependent Daughter

Over the past two weeks, we've spent some time studying about God as a dependable Father. The scriptures have confirmed that God is the ONE we can rely on for everything. He provides ALL that we need. He never fails and is always present. He knows everything. He loves always. He listens closely and forgives fully. He is good!!

Friend, I have to admit I know all these things, but sometimes I don't live like I do. There are times I'm tempted to ask my husband for help before I turn to God. I've called a friend with a problem before I've stopped to pray and tell God about it. I've relied on my own strength and trusted my own plans instead of allowing Christ to live in me and let God's plan unfold.

So with that I have to believe this final lesson of our Dependent Daughter study is of vital importance. If we believe in God and have read of His work, we know we can depend on Him, but if we're honest aren't there times we don't?

I don't believe this is something we're going to change in a short study, but it can begin the process of becoming a more dependent daughter. Join me as we try to do just that...

Prayer -
Dear Heavenly Father, We praise You for Your power and provision. We ask You to help us depend on You more and more each day in every way. Help us live out what we know. Father, I lift up every woman who works through this study, meet her where she is at, speak to her in a powerful, personal way. Lord, Your Word is alive, help us listen to what You say! Father we come to You now in humble dependence and trust You to speak to us, change us and make us more like You!! Thank you in advance for all You will do and say. In Jesus' name, Amen

Depending comes natural for a newborn child, but as the little one grows they become more and more dependent. I have a two year old - he's the picture of the struggle for independence, as is my 10 year old. As a Mom I want my children to learn, mature and grow; with each passing year it's natural for them to be less dependent on me.

But what should happen in the spiritual world? I have to think it's just the opposite. I came to know Christ and accept Jesus in my early 20's...I was living on my own, teaching school and providing for myself. I was INDEPENDENT! Then when I was born again, I found myself depending on my heavenly Father and in every year that has passed my dependence on Him has grown. Rather than celebrating my independence I find myself living more and more in dependence.

For ten years, I've watched my oldest grow in his independence and I pray each year God can look at me and say I'm maturing as His dependent daughter. Friend, do you long to do the same? If so, join me as we try to answer the question, "How do I become an dependent daughter?"

Contrast to a newborn living in dependence, spiritually we must take action. This involves prayer, Bible reading, meditation, memorization and fellowship, but we're specifically going to look at a few other necessary actions as no particular order -

1. Die to Self - Read Luke 9:23 - What must you do in order to depend on God? Ask God to show you what this looks like in your life right now.

2. Decide - Read John 15:16 - According to this verse, who made the first choice?

Now read Joshua 24:15, Deuteronomy 30:19 and Proverbs 8:10, each of these verses refer to the idea that we have the ability to do what?

Friends, you and I must decide to depend on God. God doesn't demand our dependence, He gives us the choice. We have the freedom to depend on Him, others or ourselves, but let us not forget that our decisions will have consequences. To look at this closer read Isaiah 30:8-18, this is a warning for rebellious Judah. Describe what was taking place.

What is God's response in verse 14? Can you describe a time when you made a decision similar to the people of Judah?

What does verse 18 tell you about your dependable heavenly Father?

3. Ask - I can go to the farm store for everything my husband needs, but unless I ask a clerk for help I usually won't find what I'm looking for. A similar thing can be said of God. Granted He provides much for us without you or me asking; for example - that breath you just took, did you ask Him for it? I'm guessing not, but His Word does tell us to ask. Read the following verses and make note of what scripture says about asking.
John 14:13 -

John 16:24 -

Matthew 7:7 -

James 1:5-8 -

4. Relationship - Think of the people you depend on the most...are they some of the ones you know the best? The better we get to know someone it's natural to discover if they are dependable. One of the best ways for you and me to become dependent daughters is for us to continually grow closer and closer to our Father. How much time and effort do you invest in your relationship with your heavenly Father? Do you seek after Him? Pray about this. Ask God to show you how you can personally get to know Him more. Write a prayer now committing to strengthening your relationship with the One you depend on!

To dig deeper look up verses about humility, repentance, submission and surrender. These are all areas that will help us become the dependent daughter we were created to be!

Friend, I pray this study has been an encouragement and a time of growth for you. If you have any stories you want to share, we'd love to rejoice with you!! I will continue to pray for you!

To close, here's a short exchange from one of C.S. Lewis' classics -

"In C.S. Lewis' Prince Caspian, a child name Lucy encounters Aslan, the Christ-figure of the Narnia stories, after not seeing him for a long while. "Aslan, you're bigger," she says.

"That is because you're older, little one," answered he.

"Not because you are?"

"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."

The more mature in the faith we are, the bigger God will be for us. As our vision of God becomes clearer and we understand his enormity, we learn to rest in Him. We grow in our ability to depend completely on Him.

Friend, that is my prayer for all of us!! Thank you again for joining me on this journey!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Legacy - Then and Now

Legacy is something that came to mind this past summer when my grandma passed away. I was grateful for the legacy she left and at times found myself thinking about the one I would leave. Fast forward a few months to yesterday when I read Wendy Blight's blog post titled, "What Will Be Your Legacy?" My friend's words offered insight, encouragement and left me thinking.

For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be someone who made a difference, positively influenced others and left a mark. In my growing up years, teachers, coaches and role models played powerful roles in my life - I looked up to them and appreciated the impact they made. I had the desire to do the same.

After college, I wasn't surprised to find myself teaching and was the role I had dreamed of! But into my second year of teaching, I began to wonder if those dreams were realistic. I struggled, often felt like a failure and really didn't think I mattered at all. I hurt for my students and wondered if they knew their actions didn't just impact their peers, but they hurt their teachers too.

I can still remember the night, 14 years ago this past week, I came home from a stressful day, frustrated and alone. My mind was consumed with lies and I was in the middle of an undiagnosed battle with depression. I'd been a church goer and believed in God, but I didn't know Jesus as Lord and had never personally accepted Christ as Savior. I was ready to quit and thought my legacy was over.

I sat down to make one last journal entry, as I shook and sobbed, I scribbled things like - "I don't matter. I can't do anything right. Nothing I do makes a difference. The kids don't listen to me. Perhaps this will teach them a lesson..."

Now it pains me to read these words, but the thing that strikes me is even on what I thought was the brink of my death I had the desire to influence others. For the sake of time I'll spare the rest of the details, and simply say God intervened and thankfully kept me from doing the unthinkable. And I'm even more grateful that He continued to work, drew me close and brought me to a saving relationship with Him.

Reflecting on this makes me realize my legacy has changed. First and foremost it's still alive! Second, I am now a wife and mom who daily has the opportunity to make a difference. Finally, now my legacy is better - it's one of faith, truly the only thing that will matter when my life is over.

Friend, I don't know where you are at or what legacy you are leaving, but God does. And I believe He brought you here for a reason. (How do I know? Because it's almost 3 AM as I type and I trust He has me up for a reason - YOU!!) I am praying for you and asking God to speak to your heart exactly what you need to hear.

I encourage you to think about your legacy. If it's one you're not proud of, I hope my story shows you God can change that! If it's one that's not based on faith, I trust God will tender your heart, open your eyes and draw you near. If you've started to leave a legacy of faith, I want you to know God is not finished yet...keep seeking Him, growing closer and shining brighter!

Friend, I want to close with this - you matter! God has a plan for you and a purpose only YOU can fulfill! I know it's possible to think that's crazy, in the midst of my depression I obviously doubted that, but when Jesus knocked on the door of my heart and I let Him in, things changed. Honestly, there are times I still struggle and get down, but it's different. Ephesians 3:20 is true - God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine!!

God has brought Psalms 40:1-3 to mind -

I waited patiently for the Lord;

     He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in Him.

He is there. He's listening and He is powerful! He wants to work in you and through you! He desires for you to leave a legacy for Him!! Friend, He did this for me, I know He will do it for you!!