Sunday, November 20, 2016

Barbie Mansion Blues

6:46 AM 0

Did Ken and Barbie ever move from their Barbie mansion I wonder? I mean sure they went on plenty of vacations to Malibu, RVing in the mountains, and on frequent wardrobe hunts in their pink convertible corvette, but did they ever move from one Barbie mansion to another? It is pretty sad that I actually played this scenario out in my head as I was staring at boxes upon boxes with all of our belongings stacked to the guills just waiting to be moved to their new location, or so they/we thought.    Surely I was in delirium world as I was coveting Ken and Barbie and somehow wishing I could step into the Mattel world of "Barbie and Ken Move to a New Home." But lets face it, I'm not Barbie, Zach's not Ken and in the real world cars aren't pink (well for the most part) and hair isn't always a blonde mass of perfection that never gets damaged and has to be cut off.  Refer to previous post if this seems confusing to you. Ha.

In the real world, closing dates get pushed back, they get pushed back again, and then quite possibly they may fall through all together leaving you with a house full of packed boxes, minimal furniture because you sold most of it in a moving sale, and a roller coaster of emotions as you attempt to process it all. But I'm not freaking out, nope, not me (insert crazy face emoji of someone on the verge of a meltdown.)

It truly is my hearts desire to become a woman that can say with all honesty that "she is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future" Prov 31:25, but the truth is I am not quite there yet. I was conversing with some women the other day and we were discussing my current state of affairs to which I replied that we were simply in a state of waiting to see what the Lord has in store.  She then responded something to the effect of "that's great that you can handle this situation so well." I immediately felt the need to clarify, which is undoubtedly proof that the Lord is still working on me. Years ago I would have felt proud and content that although my response was only half true at least I left her with the impression that I was a strong woman of faith.

"Let me clarify, when I say that we are in a time of waiting, please know that this also means that I fluctuate between a four year old tantrum of "life's not fair" to a place of trust and peace and then back to the four year old all over again on a daily basis. Really and truly I do trust the Lord, my flesh just isn't always caught up with that fact." Her response, "that makes me feel better."

If I had chosen not to clarify and allowed her to walk away with a view of me as being the "all together girl that has full confidence in Christ at all times," that would be a lie.  Not only would I be portraying to be someone that I wasn't, but I would have also probably left her with a sense of discouragement believing that she was somehow alone in her struggle of fully believing and trusting in God. Instead I was able to Glorify God in that moment, not in my lack of faith, but in the fact that I now feel comfortable sharing that I sometimes lack having the faith I should, but praise God because He is still working on me.

I sat on the floor of my sis in laws home, shoulder to shoulder with a house full of believers, as we sang "Holy Spirit you are welcome here," on a day that to be honest Zach and I were both struggling.  This may sound weird, but the Holy Spirit spoke to me in that song through the image of the Barbie house that is piled on top of all our boxes. Although Laela is out of the "Barbie" stage I decided to save the house for my grandkids.  As I was singing I began to imagine my grandkids playing with the barbie house, I saw them laughing and a floor full of barbie clothes. In a few short years this "unknown phase" will be just that, a faint memory.  In a few short years I will no longer care that I wasn't able to recreate "pinterest perfect" decorations around my home in the year 2016 or that we were sleeping on mattresses on the floor because I sold all of my bedroom furniture.

How Great of a God do we serve that He would give me that little jewel of joy even amongst my doubt?  How Great of a God do we serve that His mercies truly are new every morning and that my "tantrums" do not define me?  How Great is our God that he is teaching me through the works of the Holy Spirit that I do not have to hide behind religious language or pretend to have it all together, but to simply lean on The One who does when doubt arises?

I do not know your situation, your potential doubts and fears, but I do know someone that does.  At times that someone may seem silent and even leave you questioning if He is really there.  In those times Satan wants to condemn you, to rename you as a fraud, and to tell you that those whom God really loves never struggle with doubt, so He must not love you. Simply not true.

This is truth, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.  Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" 1 Pet 5:6-7.  The humbling part of this scripture is possibly the most powerful and one that will require an entire post in the future, but for today we are casting out all our anxiety.  Go into your closet and speak out your fears to the Lord, every single one of them, great and small, no matter how insignificant they may seem.  Even in what may feel like silence the Mighty one is listening and "due time" is coming.

P.S. We should find out about our house situation this week so please pray that I will Trust God no matter the outcome, in my mind, body, and soul!

Love you guys!
Jil
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN (BOXES) BEHIND THE CURTAIN (DOORS)











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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dead Ends

7:00 AM 1
I ignored several warnings.  It was not as if I was unaware of what I was doing.  In fact, I had been trained for crying out loud and yet somehow I convinced myself that the odds were in my favor and surely I could manage to circumvent chemistry.  "Just one more time," I told myself; let me just cover up this last job and then I will make the commitment to leaving it alone for a time to heal.  

Famous last words as I now sit staring at my new "bob" and by "bob" I mean my hair is so short I could easily be confused as a "Bob." No offense to you beauties who can totally pull off and look stunning in your short do I have just never quite had the face for it.  My poor hairdresser is an angel, literally I call her Gabriel of the hair realm, she comes to my rescue every time I take it upon myself to go from Gwen Stefani to Cher and then back again.  
     
It seems so simple.  Just cover the junk and life will go on, right?  Oh how I love metaphors, God you crack me up.  It would seem that my unfortunate hair situation is the perfect intro into the truth of what "dead ends" do to our lives.  Sin is much like my fried hair that was so dead it could not grow.  After layers upon layers of color and bleach it would appear to be growing at the roots but it would break off as quick as it would grow leaving my hair a hot mess of dead ends with no hope for a future in Pantene Pro-V hair modeling.  

I secretly knew that the damage was not going to be easily undone, but I just didn't quite have the guts to do what it would take to truly fix the mess I had made.  Much like the dead ends in our lives, we know that they are there and we often feel the tug at our heart to do something about them, but all too often we believe the convincing lie that simply covering them will fix our problems and prevent us from feeling pain.  I have learned the hard way that it is impossible to cover up something that is dead.  Death stinks, it deteriorates everything it touches, and will eventually leave our hearts and our manes lifeless and dull.  I hate to burst your bubble, but as a former hair dresser I must break some devastating news to you.  The all popular conditioning mask is a farce.  Sure it may leave your hair healthy and shiny for half a second, but one wash and those locks return right back to their previous state.  This is because the mask simply does what it says, "masks" the true condition of your hair and in no way gets to the root of your problem, no pun intended, ha.  Sorry slight rabbit trail, but the truth is the only way to heal your mane is to CUT THE DEAD OFF!  

What is dead in your life?  What is preventing you from growing and thriving?  What are you attempting to hold on to, but in the depths of your soul you know that The Spirit is calling you to let him cut it out.  Is it a toxic relationship perhaps?  One that you know does not glorify God, but you are afraid to give it up because you fear being alone.   Is it an addiction? Are you blinded by something that promises to fulfill you, but actually leaves you empty?  Perhaps it's something as simple as social media.  You find yourself in a constant state of comparison that you can no longer see the you that God specifically adores and created you to be.  Is is money, power, or significance?  We can easily find ourselves in the cycle of "when." When I get ________, or when I achieve _________, then I will be happy.  But all the while we are replacing genuine growth with a cheap counterfeit because we refuse to believe the promises of God.  

"But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." 1 John 1:7-9

I walked into the salon as I have hundreds of times before and with the exchange of a look and the flip of my hair there was no denying what was about to take place.  Do not miss this next line, because this is my disclaimer:  I replied to Stephanie (AKA: Gabriel) "It doesn't matter what we do, I already know that I am not going to like my hair short, so just do what has to be done."  Cutting dead ends out of your life is not fun and does not produce immediate results, at least not in my experience.    

We often must go through a period of healing, a "bob" phase.  In this phase we may not feel as confident or as loved or as "important," but it is one where the Holy Spirit is shaping you and molding you into a place where you no longer view the "bob" as your ugliest moment, but the moment in which you first began to live.  

For me it was the moment I decided to live in the light with the understanding that I may have to come back every four weeks to have this mess trimmed, but by golly I was ready to live in the phase of healing, short hair and all.  Teach me, show me, cleanse me, remake me, pull out everything dead within me Lord and allow me to submit myself to your authority.  Rid me of all pride, rid me of all fear, rid me of any desire to cover and Lord Jesus please do not let me get my hands on hair dye! 

P.S. In the few days since cutting the my dead ends off, my hair has grown more than it has in months, just saying;) 

        
      
   
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

AMERICA EXPOSED

1:37 PM 0
   

What would it look like America?  What if the curtain of truth was drawn back to reveal the truth of your life for all to see?  We sit in our living rooms, we scroll through our phones day in and day out looking into the lives of the "social elite" as well as the lives of our own peers.  We pick apart their flaws and demonize their perverse lifestyles. 

We also sit in our church pews and post scriptures on our feeds.  We attempt to convince ourselves by using religious language that we are a moral people, but what about you?  What does your own life look like, America?  Behind closed doors, AMERICA, what would the world find?  The history button on your computer, for instance - what would that reveal about the sites that you visit most? Scroll through your latest text messages and photos; if revealed for the world to see, what would that say about you? What about the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the places you go, and the things you do behind closed doors? Think about the struggles of your own family: the addictions, the breaking up of marriages, the children that are struggling to believe that their lives are worth living.  

AMERICA we have been exposed!  

I am done! I am done playing the religious game!  I am done pretending that we live in a world where ANY man or woman could possibly be the answer for the mess we as a nation have gotten ourselves into.  

You see, it is not a political problem that we have - it is a spiritual problem.  Politics is always downstream of culture.  WE ARE THE PROBLEM!  SIN IS THE PROBLEM - mine, as well as yours! 

From those in the greatest positions of power, to the those of us whom the world may never know, it is time that we recognize that WE are a broken people with only one place to turn.  The only hope for our nation is repentance.  Repentance in our own homes, among our own families, within our own hearts.  We demand apologies when people in the limelight have their sin exposed, yet we hide behind our own sin as if somehow it is different.  It is not different!  All sin demands repentance, whether public or private. 

America, let's stop looking everywhere around us to try and figure out what is wrong with our country.  The best place for us to start is within our own lives.   

Lets be honest, are you really satisfied?  Are you really fulfilled?  We are a culture of people that indulges in sexual immorality, pornography, drugs, alcohol addictions, and everything else that we think may give us a high.  

How has that worked out for us?  Are we better off?  Are we fulfilled?  I think I could safely say that the answer would be a resounding NO if we were honest with ourselves as a people.  But honesty seems to be the thing we fear most as Americans.  It is easy to see the flaws in others, but it is quite painful to see it within ourselves. 

What if we simply allowed ourselves to be exposed?  

James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."  America, what if we began there, with the confession of our own sins, with the realization that there is only ONE who can truly make us free and that is Jesus Christ.  He is the one who came to bring life.  He is the one who died to cover our rotten sins and rose so that we would have a hope beyond this life.  

Think about how different America could be if we began to acknowledge that we are sinners and only Christ can make us great again.  How might this change our country?  How might this change the men and woman we elect to lead our country?  And how might this change our homes?  

What about you?   Are you willing to be exposed? 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SKIN

9:32 AM 1
   
   
 What do you see when you look at this picture?  If you would have asked me this question a few years ago I would have answered it completely different.  I would have immediately noticed the flaw, the imperfection, the less than desirable complexion, and most assuredly I would have spent lots of time and energy attempting to cover it up.  As it stands with most of our flaws, whether seen or unseen, we almost instinctively tend to seek cover.  This is where the battle of the mind and soul begins, it is in the covering that Satan does his best work.  However, the cover that we so often seek is counterfeit, it is cheap, flimsy, and unable to protect.  
     
     When I first developed vitiligo I was devastated, I researched and researched hoping there was some miracle cure out there that I had yet to discover.  When all that I could find was camouflage make-up I resorted to attempting to cover each and every spot morning after morning just hoping that it was not too obvious, but knowing deep down that it was.  I loathed the summers because it meant hiding under an umbrella when all of my friends were sunbathing and becoming bronzed beauties. I had to layer on the sunscreen day after day and simple things that brought me joy like mowing the lawn in my tank top feeling the warmth of the sun on my back had now become a dreaded sweat fest as I would now need long sleeves and hats.  I hated it.  Not to mention the stares, the questions, or the insecurity that I developed.  It greatly altered the way that I viewed myself.  I wanted cover.  
    
      Humans have been seeking cover since the beginning of time, but quite often we find ourselves looking in the wrong places.  Every time I read Genesis chapter 3 I find it almost humorous that Adam and Eve's choice of "covering" were fig leaves.  I mean exactly how far were they going to get on fig leaves?  I itch just thinking about it, serioulsy imagine one wrong turn into a thorn bush, ouch! Desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose.  Just like that horrid orange "camouflage" make-up that was suppose to look natural, but instead just made me look like I had leprosy.  
    
      Adam and Eve's story did not end with the fig leaves and mine did not end with crappy make-up, excuse my language, but some things just are what they are.  I had become so familiar with the story of Adam and Eve that for years I missed the most amazing part. We can easily recall the fall of man, the curse, and their removal from the garden, but read with me, Chapter 3:21, "And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them."  WOW!!! This blows me away, completely away, totally and utterly amazing.  Which would you prefer as cover; fig leaves or SKIN?  It was no accident that God chose to cover them with skin.  SKIN is durable, SKIN is thick, SKIN is strong, SKIN covering requires blood to be shed.  Jesus Christ' flesh and blood would one day become our own covering.  The only covering that will ever suffice our brokenness, our sins, or our flaws.  There is no sin, no insecurity, no situation, no amount of pain that cannot be covered by Jesus.  He is our covering today and forever.  He is the only covering!
    
 So you ask, what do I see when I look at that picture?  

I see a heart.  I see the evidence of my "COVERER" even in the midst of my insecurity.  I see an opportunity to sit on a swing with a girl who has her own insecurities and share my journey with her.  I see an opportunity to share one of my own flaws in hopes that someone else might recognize the flaw in their own life and not run to the fig leaf, but instead to the SKIN covering, JESUS.  I am still insecure about it at times, and that is ok.  Insecurities will always be among us in some form or fashion, we are not weak because we have them, we are only weak when we attempt to cover them up with cheap make-up.  If you see me out and about you will most likely see my imperfect skin, because I no longer hide it.  It is crazy because I actually get excited when someone asks me about it, because it is an open door to talk about my great coverer, JESUS.  Whatever or wherever your struggle is today, whatever the insecurity, whatever the pain do not run to the fig leaves, they will never last and will continue to need replacing.  RUN TO JESUS and allow HIM to be your cover.           
      
            
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

#YOUDONTMATTER

8:01 AM 0

YOU don't matter.  It is completely irrelevant whether or not you are white, black, hispanic, etc, none of it matters.  In fact not only do you not matter, but the very fact that we are killing each other over the color of our skin is shear meaninglessness and a simple passing of the time until we are dead.  Complete and utter indifference.  Die today, die tomorrow, what difference does it really make?      

Except you do.  You do matter.  You know that you matter or at least you look at your child and you know that she or he matters.  Your mom and dad, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends, anyone close to you in any form or fashion they matter to you a great deal.  And if it is possible for you to recognize that at least one person in your life matters, then there is hope for our country after all and there is hope for you.  

But why?  Why do you matter?  Think of something that holds great value.  I am a lover of art so Van Gogh's painting entitled "starry night" would be my choice.  I actually attempted to paint it as a young girl, but unfortunately although I enjoy beautiful art, I am no artist, at least not with a paintbrush.  But let us say for the sake of my point that I was able to replicate that painting with exact precision would I then have created something of extraordinary value?  Of course not.  No one even knows my name, much less I copied another man's painting for pete's sake I would at least need to come up with something original.  Van Gogh's painting was valuable, yes indeed, but its value was solely contingent on the man who painted it.  Rare, original, one of a kind, unique, these are all terms we use to define something of great value.  It is quite remarkable to me that every human being is all of these things and so much more yet somehow along the way we have devalued life to the point that we can no longer appreciate the masterpiece or the maker. 

So only one of these two things can be true, it is logically impossible otherwise.  The first option is that none of us matter, NONE OF US, life is utterly meaningless and we are simply organisms doing what organisms do.  In that case, kill, steal, rape, consume all you can whenever you can, live for the moment, start a charity, build an amusement park, heck do whatever you want.  EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS.  Do good or do bad, it is totally irrelevant, because even the words "good" and "bad" have no meaning.  Personally, if I subscribed to this chain of thought I would probably lay in bed all day every day and order Johnny's pizza and watch re-runs of the Golden Girls, but that's just me.  However, there is an option 2.

Option two is that you realize that you do matter, or at least you recognize that someone in your life matters to you a great deal.  And if it is possible that there is a human being on the face of this earth that holds value, then there must have been someone or something that made them that way.  Yes at this point you might possibly be able to come up with some random scenario of how we just popped into existence and we are valuable just because well, because, because it's easier to live believing that I am, but I'm really not, but I would like to pretend that I am.  Or you can go back to the beginning, the very beginning.  "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He create him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it;..."  AKA as my husbands uncle Phil would say "your calendar is counting time by him, reckon we outta see what he has to say."

You love your children because you're made like God, He loves His children.  You love companionship and close relationships, because your're made like God.  He is the fullness of relationship within His very being; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  HE is the "US" He was referring to in the above scripture. God is relational that is why He chose to give you free will.  He could have made robots, but robots have no ability to give and receive love.  God is love.  His love matters.  His love came in the form of a savior, the one that we are counting time by, Jesus.  In the year 2016 AD we can change.  Because if we truly believe that we matter, then life and light can always outshine the dark.  If we believe that we have a creator then we must also believe in the greatest commandment He spoke among His people, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself"(matt 22:37-39).  How might our streets look different if we all subscribed to this Truth, this Love.  This kind of love leads to only one conclusion, ALL LIVES MATTER.  Share this message of love with me!  #becauseofJESUS #allLIVESmatter 

LOVE LOVE YALL,
Jill XOXO


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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

River Revival

8:05 AM 0


     My Hammock is running parallel to the river.  As it rushes by, the sounds of trickling water bring a sense of peace to my soul.  The river has become my sanctuary and the songs of the birds have become my praise.  It is not as if I came down here with the specific intent to worship.  Instead it is as if there is no other way to express my thanks for the beauty that I am beholding.  Like a bride gracing the aisle in white, all eyes upon her with pride, so my soul desires to gaze upon the river, knowing that the hands that drew every curve, that purposed every rapid are the very hands that purposed within me a desire to worship.  Yet how is it possible to worship such a creator?  How is it possible for me, wretched with sin, to come into the presence of The King?

It is possible because this King, Jesus, allows me to come.  He bids me to come to him, and he delights in my longing knowing that through His blood I can experience grace.  Through His blood I can be renewed day by day, moment by moment, year by year, and relationship by relationship.  In fact, in that very moment when the weariness of your soul overtakes you and the burden becomes so great, your King is bidding you to “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS, For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” MATT 11:28-30  

Yet why do we refuse to believe him?  Why are we so convinced that our burdens are too much for this King to bear or better yet why are we so afraid to relent our weary souls to The One who has promised to make us new.  I cannot answer this question for you, but I can answer it for myself and in doing so perhaps awaken a fear within one of you that might break the holds of Satan’s lies.  To relent, to give-up, to lay it all on the table before The King sounds pretty simple in theory, but lurking beneath the surface of our hearts is the deadliest of foes, clamoring for our attention and demanding its rightful place within our souls— pride.  We often call it every other name in the book to mask the reality of our struggle, but in the end it is always the same — pride.  The scripture speaks in blatant truths, leaving no room for possible interpretations in Proverbs 16:18-20, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.  It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.  He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”  I have faced many a destructive end due to my pride. But what is even worse than the destruction is missing out on the truth that The Lord was graciously trying to bestow on me. But my fear of walking through the pain prevented me from “learning” from my creator.  Jesus was gently offering me the most beautiful of views beside the stream of living water where my hammock always hangs with precise accuracy, but I simply replied “No Thanks, man, I’ve got this.” My fear of having to see and recognize the pride within me robbed me of finding rest and left me more weary than before and in a constant search of placing the blame of my inadequacies on someone or something other than myself.  Father, I am sorry. 


There is great purpose in pain.  The Father draws near to the brokenhearted (Psalms 34:18). He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27.) He disciplines those He loves in hopes that they might remember the stream of living water, remember the place of rescue, His blood (Prov 3:11-14).  We can cover the pain, run from the pain, hide from the pain, replace the pain with faux pleasure, but eventually at some point in our lives we will have to face the pain.  This pain will lead to two ultimate destinations.  It will either lead you to your death holding on to your pride as they lower you six feet under, or you will choose to push through it, sometimes kicking and screaming unable to fathom the peace that awaits you on the other side, but you will make it through.  And in that moment, when the clouds begin to clear and the sun releases its splendor you will look up through red stained eyes to behold the most beautiful river you have ever seen, you will hear the trickling of the water beneath your feet,  and it is in that place, relenting within the arms of the only one who can save, JESUS, that you will find rest.   
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Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Darkest Night of My Life

3:24 PM 0
       
   
     My entire existence hung in the balance as fear overtook the masses and confusion set in like a soft whisper in a pitch black cave. Echoing in every direction, refusing to find a resting place, and igniting deep emotion, deep regret, and deep despair.  The Darkest Night of My Life took place before one breath escaped from my lungs. It is as if everything that had seemed to be was no longer and everything that was thought to be known was but a question with no answer.  Was it all a dream?  Was any of it real?  Have I made a mistake?  Was I wrong?  Was he really…? What happens now?

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.  The tombs were opened.  And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.  When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"(matt 27:51-54)
   
     It was as if time itself stood still as the magnitude of what just took place set in.  The Darkest Night of My Life would seal my fate forever.  Forever I would be lost.  Forever I would be a wonderer, a nomad, seeking and searching for purpose only to find myself in utter meaninglessness all the days of my life.  This King of Kings, my prophesied savior, the only one from whom hope could be found was now dead.  All hope was lost.  The true breath of life will now never escape from my lungs. Or would it?

Now after the Sabbath, toward dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His presence was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.  But the angel said to the women.  "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE HAS RISEN, AS HE SAID.(matt 28:1-6)

The Darkest Night of My life and yours would end at sunrise.  At sunrise, what was thought to have been lost would be found.  At sunrise the shame that at times has consumed me would evaporate along with the dew.  At sunrise what death with all its might had tried to consume would forever be destroyed.  Do not live in darkness when the most beautiful sunrise you could ever imagine awaits you.  Come just as you are, broken, bruised, worn, fearful, unsure, and shamed.  Let the light of this glorious sunrise warm you, remake you, and resurrect you.  Just like Mary, run to meet Jesus as the sun begins to rise, He will greet you on the way.  See you at Sunrise!






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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The LIE that Binds

3:23 PM 0
    
  We are all well aware that Satan's schemes did not cease to exist in the Garden and as Christians we are quick to note the severe decline in our culture as a whole and often cling to our values in a hope to anchor us through this storm.  Yet, I fear, lurking beneath the surface of our church pews, our homes, and our hearts, is the deadliest of all transgressors, one who intends to rob us of our joy and divide our bodies all the while masking itself in the bond of "friendship."  Who is this ugly transgressor you might ask and how could one ever befriend her?  She goes by the name Gossip and she does not discriminate.  Any and all who will fall prey to her illusion she will not hasten to destroy.  She does her work quickly and reels in her victims simply by telling them what they want to hear.  Try as you may to resist her charm, but her fruits are often too juicy to deny.  What is offered in return is momentary validation, momentary vengeance, and momentary security, all the while knowing in the back of her mind that she only has to build you up for a short while before she begins to tear you down.  
     Let's get practical.  There are two reasons in which we gossip.  Notice I said "we," I make no attempt to claim master over this sin only a deep deep desire to see it through the lens of Truth.  We gossip in an attempt to gain vengeance or simply due to jealousies that we are holding up within our heart. Like any sin, I truly believe if we were able, in the moment of temptation, to see it for the lie it is we would run in the opposite direction.  If we could see the harm of our words, the great power of destruction that is wound up in a single seed of deception surely the apple would loose its enticing lure.  Yet how easy it can be to deceive ourselves and allow words to slip from our tongue most certainly from a place of "concern," not gossip, rightWhen we find ourselves in a blur of insecurities the easiest scapegoat seems to come through highlighting the flaw of another, a quick fix, so we think.  However, the affects of sin are typically never quick and what was intended merely to be a casual conversation Satan exploits in an effort to tear down the body of Christ.  Ask yourself this question, no matter where you may fall on this deadly train of destruction, whether you are the one who sows the negative seed, the one who simply receives the seed, or the victim of the seed that was sown, has it ever, I mean ever brought any amount of freedom or joy into your life or the life of someone else?  Has it ever resulted in the building up of the body of Christ?  Or, if you recall correctly, has it brought much confusion, much questioning, much doubting, much division among brothers and sisters?  Has it divided friendships, marriages, churches?  Has it left you feeling encouraged or increasingly dissatisfied??  You see in those few short seemingly insignificant moments where the seed was sown one might experience a small degree of validation (they agree with me, I am not alone,) or vengeance (now people will know who they really are,) or security (at least I am better than they are,) but in the deepest darkest places of your heart you have deep sorrow because you know that in fact you did bite that appleIt was sweet and fulfilling for a brief moment in time, but has left you with a bitter aftertaste as though it was plucked from the branch too early.     
    The simple truth is that God knows best.  He was not lying to us or holding out on us when he told us to "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear," Eph  4:29.  James was right on target when he wrote in chapter 3:5, "So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.  How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!"  So as sure as Satan will continue his schemes, we do not have to fall prey to his lies.  When he extends the apple, with all the appeals that one would desire, with the promise that you are simply one bite away from fulfillment, look very very closely, there is most assuredly a deadly worm lurking beneath the skin.





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Saturday, February 20, 2016

AWAKE

12:53 PM 0


I did not want to write today, I have waaaaaay to much to do, I do not have time, but let me warn you that there is a fire burning inside of me that I cannot shake.  If I could dance and type at the same time, I would, and I can't even dance, but still.  In my mind I am dancing and doing somersaults with the greatest of ease and I look good doing it, ha.  Yeah, yeah we get that you are dancing, but why?  I am so very glad that you asked my friend.
     Do you truly believe that you were made in the image of God?  Many of us who are believers have no problem answering that question with a resounding, "well yes," but that is about as far as our little minds allow us to go.  Made in the image of God, check.  Christ died for my rotten sins, check.  The Holy Spirit indwells within me, check.  One day I will be raised with a new glorified body to live forever, check.  "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!"  I AM NOT EVEN JOKING, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!  SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, SERIOUSLY, IF THAT DOES NOT INVOKE SOMETHING WITHIN YOU THEN I AM GOING TO COME THROUGH THIS COMPUTER AND SLAP YOUR FACE!!  And yet even as I am typing I can recall going over those very thoughts in my mind on several occasions, listening to countless lessons and seminars recanting those very things and although I may manage an "amen" here and there it had become almost, well, how should I say this, uneventful.  We just don't get it.  I just don't get it and even though I feel right now as though I am fully aware of what this means for my life, the truth is I cannot even comprehend the power of this love.  I cannot even form a thought that could adequately represent this type of love, but the Spirit within me is fully capable and I for one am tired of selling Him short!!!!  In fact it is for this very reason it was given to me in the first place.  Turn to John 16 starting in verse 7,

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

If the Holy Spirit is indwelling you then that is a pretty stinking big deal! He will guide you into ALL, yes ALL truth and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will take what is GODS and declare it to YOU!  Do we live in a world that could use a little truth?  Do we live in a world that could use a little reminder of what is to come for those who put their trust in the Lord. YES, OK, YES it would.  Que the "call to action speech!"  Wait for it......Wait for it......Wait for it....

"AWAKE, O SLEEPER, AND ARISE FROM THE DEAD, AND CHRIST WILL SHINE ON YOU." Eph 5:14 (yall I am for real typing and standing up at the same time, my feet will not be still)

"Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Col 3:17.  If you can sing, sing for the Lord!  If you can write, write for the Lord!  If you can paint, paint for the Lord!  If you have the gift of prayer, pray to the Lord and for his people without fear!  If you can cook, cook for the Lord!  If you can play 16 instruments, play them all for the Lord!  If you can speak, speak LOUD for the Lord!  If you can teach, teach for the Lord!!!  For far too long, Christians have sat on the side lines, ignoring THE SPIRIT within us, denying HIS POWER, and keeping HIS SACRED TRUTHS HIDDEN.  We have also allowed ourselves to become ever so cynical within the body of Christ.  We cannot even benefit from the "God given" talents he has placed within our brothers and sisters because of jealousy.  We become convinced that we should have been given their gift instead of realizing the beautiful handpicked talent that the Lord has placed on our own life and expects us to use for His Glory.  Do not covet your brother or sisters, tap into your spiritual gift, specifically designed and catered with you in mind.

 I am reminded of the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30)  and how many times I have buried my talents or downplayed them or hid them in some weird attempt at humility.  Yall, if we are burying our God given talents, we are burying God within us.  This is not humility, this is a tragedy.  Some may think, sure, but what if I use my gift and people think I am self seeking?  News flash! There will be some who will think that and at times you will be self seeking and so will I, but the Spirit within us is not!!!  Honestly that has been a fear that has plagued me quite often, because it is very easy to make it about us as oppose to God in us, but what scares me even more is verse 26 of Matthew chapter 25 and what happened to the man who hid his talent...

But his master answered him, "you wicked and slothful servant!  You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.  But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. 

To not have a voice for the Lord cuts me to my very soul!!! To loose the chance to proclaim the amazing truths of my savior all because of fear is like a nightmare that I never want to face.  I am writing this for you, you (as in the person who is reading this right now.) I lifted my hands to the Father on your behalf, literally, and mine that we would AWAKE!  I want you to AWAKE!!! God wants you to AWAKE!! I want to AWAKE! Without fear, casting away all doubt, and boldly proclaim Jesus in any and every way possible, whether seen or unseen, whether big or small, AWAKE!  If you know someone who is living in fear share this post with them and proclaim them to AWAKE AND ____________  just fill in the blank with whatever God given talent that you know they possess and that the body of Christ so desperately needs them to use.  In the mighty name of Jesus, ambassadors of Christ everywhere AWAKE!!!!!!!!!!

 Note:  If you are reading this post and you do not know the Lord or maybe you once did, but have fallen into the despairs of this world allowing Satan to fill you with lies.  Today is a new day and His mercies are knew every morning!!! To be welcomed into the kingdom of God is free for the taking and will change your life forever.  It requires no magic formula and the only prerequisite is a broken and contrite heart.  In other words it is a confession before the Lord that Jesus is Lord and that you are not.  It is the understanding that Christ died for your sins.  His blood literally covers your rotten sins, every one of them.  There is no sin so great that Christ blood cannot cover it. It is the amazing realization that although he was buried in the tomb, three days later he rose from the dead.  We know that he rose, because over 500 people witnessed the risen Lord and 2016 years later we are still talking about it.  In Romans 10:8-13 it says "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart: (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  For their is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." On November 19, 1999 I died.  Yes, I made this confession and re-enacted this gospel message through baptism just like those precious souls who were cut to the heart in Acts chapter 2:38.  The water is not magic or holy, but it serves as a great reminder of how good it feels to be washed clean.  When Zach, my husband, lowered me into that water the old Jill was being put to death, being buried, in the same way that Jesus was.  At that moment all of my rotten sins were removed by the blood of Jesus.  What then came out of that water was a new creation, alive in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) sinless and free from guilt.  To say that it was a good feeling would be putting it extremely mildly.  And check this out yall, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit, remember, the one who will guide you into all truth.  The one who will tell you the things that are to come and give you the courage to AWAKE and share this message with the world!!!  Do not wait!!!        


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Saturday, February 6, 2016

WHAT IF?

1:50 AM 1
 
     I cannot tell you how many times I have thought long and hard about the generation that my children are growing up in.  With nearly all of my "mom friends" this topic has surfaced on more than one occasion and at times has left me with a sense of hopelessness.  Surely our daughters will struggle with their image after much comparison to the flawless images flooding their social media outlets.  I have.  Surely they will feel inadequate as the culture tells them over and over that their self worth is directly related to their sex appeal.  I have.  And what of our boys?  According to statistics will they not likely fall into the growing statistic of young boys addicted to pornography and thus completely alter their view of what it means to respect a woman?  Will they not have false unrealistic expectations that will ultimately leave them utterly unfulfilled?  But what if?  What if as their Moms, we were different?

MOMS,

WHAT IF we quit comparing ourselves?

"But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding." 2 COR 10:12

WHAT IF we quit analyzing all of our flaws and rushing to the surgeon every time we felt inadequate? 

"You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." SONG OF SOL 4:7

WHAT IF we spent more time talking about the ways in which we could be a blessing to others as oppose to what is wrong with everyone else?  Gossip, though momentarily may give you a small amount of pleasure, in the end it only robs you of your joy.

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." PHIL 2:3

WHAT IF "real" became the new "perfect?" Real photos, real eyelashes, real hair, real boobs, real eyebrows, real wrinkles, REAL LIFE.

" Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." PROV 31:30

WHAT IF we were content?

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”" HEB 13:5

WHAT IF our fulfillment truly came from our Creator and not from the way in which others viewed us?

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." GAL 1:10

WHAT IF we slowed down?

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

WOULD OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS BE DIFFERENT? 
    
 Moms, it starts with us.  Our kids may remember bits and pieces of words that we have spoken to them over the years, but more than anything they will remember who we are.  They will remember how we lived.  If we are constantly comparing ourselves and pointing out flaws only to search for a "quick fix" they will do the same.  Our daughters will learn very quickly that you can simply "fix" what you do not like and more times than not that leads to an endless road of disappointment.  Our sons will learn this pattern as well and when the day comes that his bride has a melt down over her aging body he will likely think he is helping her by agreeing to "fix" whatever she doesn't like, when actually all she wanted was for him to tell her that he loves her the way she is.  

If we are gossips, our children will be.  Finding it much easier to point out the defects in others rather  than seeing their own.  

If we struggle through life always looking for the "next best thing" never realizing that the "best thing" is right in front of us then we will also pass down a legacy of discontentment.   

Whom do you seek approval from?  Anyone apart from Jesus Christ will leave you empty and they will leave your children empty as well.  

     BUT WHAT IF?  WHAT IF we as moms really and truly grabbed our paddles and although it may seem impossible began paddling upstream willing and ready to face the rapids of our culture with the Holy Spirit giving us strength and filling us with truth.  WHAT IF we could change a generation by changing ourselves and changing our homes.  WHAT IF our husbands couldn't help but to see the change?  WHAT IF the changes sparked a revolution in his own life causing him to grab his own set of paddles refusing to believe that his worth is tied up in his level of success and allow him to see the blessing of what is in front of him.  The temptation to busy ourselves is the great deceiver.  If we just go, go, do, do, we can conquer the world, we think.  But what if, instead, Moms and Dads got to know their kids, talked with their kids daily and became in tune with their struggles and could speak life into them preparing them for the battle ahead.  This world wants us running and gunning 24/7 never stopping to smell the roses and "more" has become our anthem and "vanity" our king, but WHAT IF?         


 

 
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Storm

1:47 PM 1
 

Grab your bible and open to Mark 4

   It is a real simple story, told in a mere seven verses.  Seven verses rocked my world much like it did that wooden boat thousands of years ago.  My boat seems to have been doing a whole lot of rocking lately.

"On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side."Mark 4:35


When is the last time Jesus has told you to go to the other side?  Seriously, I am asking you to ask yourself this question.  When has He told you to go?  Not alone, but when has He grabbed your hand and said come with ME to the other side?

SPACE ALLOTTED FOR YOU TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THIS, REALLY THINK ABOUT IT. HAS HE TOLD YOU TO GO, ANYWHERE WITH HIM, EVER?

Bear with me through this post, there is a point or rather a purpose in this thought today and if you have made it this far then I think you are suppose to hear it (read it.) Now that you have contemplated the first question, ask yourself this one, Did you go?  If you are like me you can probably think of times when you have said yes as well as times that you have said no.  Today I want to talk about the times you have said yes.  However, if you are someone that has never said yes or maybe you believe that you have never been asked I will leave you with this thought.  "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." 2 Pet 3:9  He wants you to come.  He wants you in the boat with Him.  What keeps you from stepping in?  Seriously, what? Who?  Do not be afraid to be honest with yourself, no one can read your thoughts through the computer screen.  

"Leaving the crowd, they took Him (Jesus) along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.  And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.  Jesus himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"" Mark 4:36-38.  

Do you think when Jesus got in the boat that He knew a storm was coming?  Thinking back to a time when you have gotten in the boat with Jesus have you ever experienced a storm?  Have you ever jumped in the boat with Jesus excited to take off only to find yourself in the midst of a storm, in the midst of worry, in the midst of fear, in the midst of criticism, in the midst of self doubt, in the midst of failure, in the midst of loneliness, in the midst of utter chaos and your first thought is to scream "JESUS!!!! WHERE ARE YOU!!!!!!! JESUS, I GOT IN THE BOAT!!!! I'M WITH YOU, DONT YOU REMEMBER, DONT YOU CARE!!!! I'M WITH YOU!!! WHERE ARE YOU???? WHY DO I FEEL LIKE THIS? WHY AM I EXPERIENCING THIS??? I AM DOING YOUR WORK! I AM SHARING YOUR WORD! WHY? WHY? WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING? I can just picture the disciples, I can just picture "myself" pacing back and forth questioning and pleading, wanting relief and wanting it immediately and the God of the Universe, the maker of heaven and earth, the sustainer of life itself comes on the scene and everything changes.

"And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "HUSH, BE STILL. And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.  And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

WHY ARE YOU AFRAID??? DO YOU STILL HAVE NO FAITH???  Let me ask you again, did Jesus know the storm was coming?  You better believe He knew the storm was coming.  This storm was about to change their lives.  The storm was about to take everything that they thought they were afraid of and turn it upside down.  The storm was about to reveal their true weakness.  They were so convinced that the storm was the source of their fear.

"They became very much afraid and said to one another, "who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"

I am just imagining their faces, stunned, speechless, embarrassed, kicking themselves at how quickly their faith recoiled in fear.  I see myself.  I see how quickly I am to run to the stern of the boat, flapping my arms and shouting as if he is unaware.  All the while Jesus is in the boat with me saying, "Do not be afraid, this storm that you think is going to destroy you, is actually allowing you to see the very thing that will bring you peace, ME.   

 I have no clue what your storms are.  I know that every storm I have ever been through has been painful.  I have had to see things in myself that I would rather not see, I have had to experience moments of pain that I would rather not experience, admit things that I would rather leave hidden, and walk through doors that I wanted to leave shut.  At times it may even seem that to have stayed on the shore would have been a better idea.  But I want you to read through this passage once again.

READ MARK 4:35-41 SERIOUSLY, READ IT! 

As you were reading and if you could watch it all take place, what comes to your mind as being the most memorable moment of that day?  For me it is crystal clear.  "HUSH, BE STILL" The storm is raging all around you and you feel as if it will over take you at any moment when suddenly you hear the words 

"HUSH, BE STILL" 

I do not want to miss that moment!!! I do not want to sit on the shore line and miss seeing the Glory of The Lord through the storm.  I want to get in that boat every time, rain or shine and allow God to produce a faith in me that I could never see from the shoreline.  GET IN THE BOAT.






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