Friday, November 9, 2012

30 Days of Thanks

It's that time of year.  The time we focus on the things we're thankful for.  We either cook yummy food or delight in the graciousness of someone's else's yummy cooking (thank God for moms and grandmas!)  in the presence of the family God gave us. 

I have enjoyed reading the daily words of thanks many people are posting on facebook, and I have to admit, posting daily on facebook is not my strongpoint, so I thought I'd list 30 days of thanks right here on the blog!  So, here it goes:

1.  Food to eat

2.  A roof over my head

3.  Clothes on my back

4.  A family to serve

5.  The Call of God to advance His Kingdom

6.  The privilege of being born in the great nation we call America

7.  Parents who raised me to know God

8.  Ministers who poured into my life along the way

9.  The privilege of prayer

10.The way God provides when no one else notices the need

11.The way God protects me & the ones I love

12.The adventures I've experienced in life and even the adventures still to anticipate

13.Laughter

14.Music

15.Dates with my husband

16.One on one time with my girls

17.A few favorite Bible Study authors

18.God's written Word and His revelation to our hearts when we uncover the mysteries that lie within

19.Hot tea sweetened with honey

20.Good ole' southern iced tea

21.Caring in-laws

22.Friends God has given us along the way

23.The baby we are expecting

24.The fact that my girls play together and are best friends

25.All the awesome recipes I've collected from other blogs!

26.Star gazing

27.Christmas, the hope of a Savior

28.The gifts God has given me, no matter how insignificant they may seem at times... He is GREAT
      in our weakness.

29.God's grace that is great toward me... completely undeserved

30.The Hope of Heaven

Maybe you are like me and there has been a time you read something someone posted on facebook that they were giving thanks for, and you thought, "That's great for them, but that's exactly what my life is lacking right now."  Someone could have received a million dollars while you are struggling to pay the bills.  It's tough to read about someone's awesome family when maybe you lost someone you loved dearly.  I can give thanks for my husband and children, but I am completely aware that someone could read this who is single, or in a broken relationship.  Maybe you long for children, but it seems like an unanswered prayer. 

No matter how blessed we are in this life on earth, there is probably always some area that seems to lack in our life.  Simply because on this fallen earth we are not living in the completeness of what God has in store for us.  I say that simply to say, when my life seems to lack in some area, then sure, I pray and believe God to bring that thing about, and so often He does.  I also remind myself that life on this earth is NOT IT!  I am living for something greater.  I am living for the day when God's Kingdom is all that prevails.  No more sickness.  No more death.  No more pain.  No more heartache.  No more unfulfilled days.  No more lack.

I have so much to be thankful for, but take it all away, and what is left is the hope of heaven!  I hope that encourages your heart.  It means everything to me!

"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings - and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."  Revelation 17:14

"Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.  Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name."  Psalm 97:11-12

Live for Eternity!
~Jill

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Living In God's Favor

Alright. Some of you may remember a few months ago, I sent out a request on facebook for you to believe with me.  There were three VERY specific things I was believing God for, and today I am finally sharing with you just what God is doing in our lives.  So, if you are one who truly prayed for us specifically over that request, get ready to celebrate!  However you want to celebrate. You can jump up and down in praise... break out the apple cider and pumpkin pie... LOL!  God is doing great things, and we are so excited to give Him the praise!

I actually took a break from posting on here, because I felt that a short break was needed, and looking at the last post, I wrote about perceiving our circumstances through thankfulness rather than a spirit of complaining. Over the course of the past few months, repeatedly I have felt from the Lord to find thankfulness in EVERYTHING, and that the more I am thankful the more He is able to bestow blessing and favor on my life.  So, I find it so much like God to place on my heart to return to blogging, now that thankulness and obedience is reaping a harvest of His unmistakable favor in my life.  And let me say this now.... God's favor is available to EVERYONE!  It is just as available to you as it is to me.  He is no respector of persons.  He does NOT play favorites!  However, there is favor that is available for EVERYONE to tap into.

There were three major areas of my life in which, I confess, I was doing a certain amount of complaining to God over.  Through some unusual circumstances and an undeniable God moment in my life over the summer, God placed on my heart to sow seed money for three months.  One month for each of my requests.  And so, I did.  And I have dark roots on this blonde head to prove it!  A sacrifice I'd make again to see God's hand in such a way as I have. 

The first month we sowed all our extra money asking the Lord for financial provision.  Within one month's time, we received a 100 fold financial blessing from that seed.  God solidified in our hearts through that blessing that He is very aware of our needs and is taking care of us.  PRAISE HIM!  It gets better!

The second month we sowed all the extra money we had and asked God to bless us with another child.  This is something we have longed for and have found difficulty along the way, so we cried out to God.  About a month later, we conceived and are now 10 weeks!
You have no idea how exciting it was to go into an ultra sound and see a baby!  In past experience, we had gone to find nothing at all... but Praise God!  This time a baby!  The heartbeat was like music!

Are you celebrating the goodness of God, yet?  It's not that throwing down money gets us what we want.  However, it is that when we combine thankfulness with obedience, the blessings of God are not hindered!

We sowed for a third time, and cannot yet share the details of our third seed.  But can I say this?  We are seeing God's hand all over again, and can't wait to share the praise report with you!

For those of you who knew we were seeking God, and prayed, THANK YOU!  Please continue to keep us in your prayers, and pray over this precious baby we are already in love with!  We want to believe God for you too!  You can contact us by leaving a comment, sending an email through our website, http://www.josh-jill.com/, or calling/texting.  God is very aware of you, and He longs for His favor to rest on your life!  Do you feel the favor of God is being hindered?  Ask God to show you the right walk of obedience, and He will do just that!

I want to leave you with an encouraging passage of scripture:
"The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.  Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.  From the time he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph.  The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potipha had, both in the house and in the field.  So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not conern himself with anything except the food he ate."  (Genesis 39:2-6)

Walk in God's Favor!
~Jill

Monday, March 26, 2012

Apply it to Me Monday

In the past two or three years I've experienced some circumstances in my life that definitely have not happened in the way I would have EVER planned!  I've not blogged about them... maybe someday I will.  Have you ever noticed that life can serve you bad deal after bad deal?  Just when you get over one thing something completely different yet disheartening surprises you. 

In those times it's easy to begin to complain.  Things aren't right.  Things aren't fair.  Does God even care?  Complaining.  I think I've been doing some of that.  Not out loud so much, but deep down I've been frustrated. 

I'm so glad God doesn't give up on us when we are frustrated and complaining.  He has reminded me the importance of a thankful heart.  The importance of thanking Him in the trial, even thanking Him FOR the trial!  This could be the very thing He uses to bring about a greater maturity and strength in us as well as something better for our lives than that thing we're so disappointed over.

I read a couple of qoutes yesterday that grabbed my heart and brought me to repentance again.  God's been dealing with me on this for a couple of months now!

"Let thankfulness temper all your thoughts."  "A grateful attitude becomes a grid through which you perceive life."  ~Sarah Young

Wow.  I would much rather perceive my life through a grateful attitude than a cynical, hurt, and broken one.   How much happier my days would be, and how much happier those around me would be! 

What about you?  Has life served you some bad deals?  I hope you find encouragement in this.  It is not natural to be grateful.  I think it's something we have to practice and practice until it becomes natural.  It's something we have to constantly go to God in prayer over asking Him for strength and help.  When our grateful attitude finally overrides the hurt, the questions, and the complaining we begin to find that our joy returns.  That ability to truly smile and laugh return. 

So that's my prayer today.  Here are a few scriptures to ponder.

"And do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel." 
1 Corinthians 10:10


"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" 
Hebrews 12:28-29


"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:2-4

Monday, March 12, 2012

Apply it to Me Monday

Today I just want to type a passage of scripture that I hope will be an encouragement to you.  My prayer is that God will help me to be obedient to His ways and His plans in every detail of my life!  Pure obedience.  That's what I'm striving for.  The passage I want to leave you with is a scriptural blessing for obedience.  Though obedience may seem to cost us much from an earthly perspective, it is really the way we gain an abundant and full life!

"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock - the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you.  They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven."
~Deuteronomy 28:1-7

That's just the first seven verses.  There are seven more that follow that.  Walk in obedience today!  The blessing is far greater than the sacrifice!

~Jill

Monday, March 5, 2012

Apply it to Me Monday.. Final Thoughts on Loving them Better

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6


Over the past week, I've had to hand some anxiety over to God and allow His peace to overwhelm my understanding, or lack thereof.  While I've been in that process, I've thought how valuable of a lesson that is to teach our kids.  Take your concerns to God.  He will guard your hearts and minds


I began a 14 day challenge on ways we can love our kids better, and today I want to give it a few final thoughts.

~ Teach them to take their concerns to God.  A great way to teach that is simply to model that through some of your own siuations and concerns.   Let God's peace be evident in you.

~  Find their interests and encourage them in that.  Kylee wants to be a "pet doctor princess" when she grows up.  She may change her mind several times between now and then, but we encourage it and let her take care of our pets.  Both girls love to read, so we go to the library often so there are always fresh books around the house.

~ I notice my kids get a big sense of accomplishment when I let them accomplish a grown up task.  Kylee loves to help me wash dishes, and even though letting her help doubles the time it takes to finish, I try to let her as often as I can.  It brings her a great sense of accomplishment.  They both love to help cook, so I look for chances to let them pour, stir, etc. 

~ Praise, Praise, Praise!  Speak life over them. 

~ Have a family devotion when you can.  I've learned accomplishing that every night is nearly impossible, but make them meaningful and fun when you do catch that chance.  The other night we made blue jello with swedish fish inside to celebrate Dr. Seuss day.  We read "Red Fish, Blue Fish." After the Dr. Seuss story we talked about a Bible fish story known as Jonah and the Whale.  It turned into a great talk on obedience... and it was FUN!  Devotions can be meaningul and fun.

~ One thing we do as a family is take walks together when we are home.   It gets us away from chores and work life while we catch some fresh air and do something together.  It doesn't have to take long, but is a very intentional way to be together as a family.

Last but not least, trust God in this parenting thing.  We could come up with steps to take to raise 'em right all day long, but without God, it's all meaningless.  He is our source of strength and wisdom.  He gives it generously to those who ask.  (James 1:5)  So, when you are at a loss, turn to the One who brings peace in your anxiety, strength in your weakness, and wisdom along your unsure path.  He loves you. O, how He loves you!  And those sweet babies?  He loves them too.  He loves them enough to partner alongside you in this whole parenting thing. After all, He is the master parent!  I don't know about you, but this mama is far from having it all together.  I'm so glad I can rely on the ONE who does!

Happy Monday!
~Jill

Monday, February 20, 2012

Apply it to Me Monday... 14 Days to Loving them Better

"The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandment to do them.
Psalm 103:17-18


I love the idea of blogging daily, it's just not a reality for me.  I don't know how these moms with 10 kids homeschool, travel and speak publicly across the nation, keep a perfect house, and BLOG DAILY!  They must be hiding a nanny and a maid in a closet somewhere!  I say that to apologize for not blogging every day of my 14 day challenge to love them better. However, the challenge has been very near my thoughts and I have looked daily for ways to love my kids and my husband better.  Today I will list four challenges that I've given myself, and hopefully one of them will resonate with you!

1.  Honor God as an individual by keeping His commandments.     The greatest gift we can give our children is a blessing that is passed down through our obedience to God.  I want to be sensitive to the things He ask me to do and not neglect those things.  If I violate God's law in some way I want the Holy Spirit to convict me and I want to turn away from it immediately.  What a treasure for my kids to grow up and say  "I am blessed because of the obedience of my parents!"  Sometimes we need to get our focus off of what our kids' are doing wrong and ask God to show us what we're doing wrong!  Is there any area of disobedience?

2.  Give our family the gift of TIME.
     I had a favorite professor in college.  I was privileged to take classes under him 4 or 5 times.  Something he taught us in every class was how love was spelled... 
T. I. M. E.  We
are living in a culture where we are overwhelmed with schedules, and honestly, social media is overtaking our time with family.  A big reason I do not blog daily, even through a 14 day challenge, is because of the time it would take from a little 3 and 4 year old who want to read stories and play games.  It's too easy to spend an evening with a quick meal while someone in the family chills out watching TV while someone else is checking out on facebook and twitter.  The family is home together, but disconnected.  I want to be intentional about the quality of time I give to my kids.  I've learned I can be home with them all day, yet I'm so busy I'm not really with them.  Time is a precious gift.

3.  Make my Marriage Priority
     I've often heard it said that all a child wants is a mommy and daddy to love them.  I think   that's true, but only partly.  What a child really wants is a mommy and daddy who love each other.  A child's security is in the fact that things are okay with mom and dad.  My desire is to model how to love through loving my husband.  When they see a genuine love there, it gives them a sense of security that will carry with them throughout life.  My prayer is that my kids will love and respect their father because that's what they see mom do!

4.  Make Meals a Ministry
     Really, it doesn't even necessarily have to be a meal.  I've never been one to have too much yummy stuff in the house, but I'm trying to do better.  I've learned when my kids are upset or we are just not connecting well, the difference giving them something yummy can make!  I know it sounds silly, but I'm amazed at how comforting and healing a cup of hot chocolate can be after I've had to discipline the kids.  When the discipline is over, it's wonderful to follow it up with an act of kindness and love.  I'm not saying we lessen discipline because discipline in and of itself is an act of love, and I'm not saying we follow up with snacks every time.  I've just noticed the comfort it has brought to my kids when our day was really going sour.  Hot chocolate and marshmallows speak to them like nothing else.
     Another thing my kids love that makes a fun dessert is strawberries and chocolate dip. Sometimes I will use that as a reward and sometimes "just because."  When we give our kids what they love to eat (and I'm not referring to McDonald's) it can be a true ministry to them.  Had a rough day with your teen?  A trip to Krispy Kreme could be just the thing.
     Many times in the Bible we see Jesus minsitering to the disciples by feeding them.  So when you take the time to cook that meal, or make a cup of hot chocolate, you are speaking love!

This was our centerpiece the other night at dinner.
The kids ate their vegetables in no time to get to this!
They didn't like strawberries until I introduced them with chocolate.
Now they are crazy for strawberries and will even eat them without
the chocolate!

This is Kylee taking a bath because it was so yummy!

We've been on the challenge for 8 days!  Six more to go!  Hope you feel challenged and encouraged in loving them better!

~Jill

    

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

14 Days to Loving Them Better

Happy Late Valentine's Day, Y'all!  Yesterday was so out of the ordinary for me I never found a chance to get on here!  So I'm going to post 2 ways today that I am challenging myself to love my kids better

The first is through gifts. For Kylee, my oldest, that's her love language. She thrives on receiving a gift! Nearly every time I help her get dressed, she wants to know who gave her the outfit she's wearing. Every night when she chooses a toy or stuffed animal to sleep with, she will ask who gave it to her. If she receives some little breakable figurine, it goes on display for all of eternity and so help me God if I dare try to hide it from her. LOL! She LOVES gifts, and as her mom, I want to speak that language from time to time. Yesterday was the perfect day to gift my children since it was Valentine's Day.



I had this waiting for the girls when we picked Kylee up from PreK.
The flowers were from my sweet man.


I didn't take the greatest pictures, but here they are excited to open their gifts.
Nothing fancy or too expensive, but just a little "I Love You."


Gifts are a wonderful expression of love, especially if it is your loved one's love language.  For me, one of the most fun times to give a gift is when it's totally unexpected.  Not a birthday or Christmas, just an expression that some special person was on my mind!

My second challenge today is touch.  I promise I'm not going through the love languages, although if you've not read the book by Gary Chapman you should!  So often I rock my kids before bed because it's routine, it's a duty.  I'm ready to get through the process so I can have some time.  I am so blessed to have two sweet girls who long to be held and rocked and cuddled to no end, really.  I don't want to be too busy to really pour that on in a meaningful, rather than dutiful, way.  So today my aim is to minister to my children through touch.  It may be a back scratch or a tickle attack.  Whatever seems to be appropriate and speak to their hearts, I am going to be intentional with!

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the gift of motherhood.  Help me to see the needs of my children and give me the wisdom I need to adequately fill those needs.  Your word says in James 1:5 that "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  Today I ask for wisdom.  Help me to love my children and my husband better.  From there help me to love my neighbors better as well!
In the Perfect Name of Jesus Christ,
Amen!

On Assignment,
Jill
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