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Not the Obvious Choice

It’s so easy to dismiss ourselves as not qualified. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too much this. I’m not enough that.

David spent his entire life in the back 40 watching sheep. But God knew him well. So when looking for a king to replace Saul, he rejected the “obvious” choice, and chose David. Remember that when you’re thinking you’re not enough. Or someone tells you that you’re too much.

Point to ponder while you wander….

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

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Plots, Plans & Purposes! Oh My!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

The word “thoughts” here means meditates, purposes & plots. God is meditating on & plotting peace for your journey of becoming your best you! Your purpose.

In truth everyone’s purpose is the same. What?

It’s true!

Your purpose is to be healed and restored and partner with Jesus in the passion of your heart. Your dream!

From that place of restoration you will automatically pursue your dream in a healthy and productive way, because it’s who you are!!!

Like the Father, who loves because He is LOVE.❤

Many people think God only has one plan for their life. And they are terrified that they have or will screw it up. I know…because I was one of those many. #fearisaliar

The uniqueness of our purpose is not the purpose itself…as previously stated.

It’s not the dream or passion. Many people may have a similar dream or passion.

Foe example…I am a writer and a photographer…so are multiple other people that I know. More that I haven’t met yet.

Many are significantly more talented, and I am okay with that. I cannot do all the writing and all the picture taking for the whole world. I wouldn’t want to.

I want to do specific writing and photography projects that move me. Because my journey and relationship with Jesus are different than other writers and photographers, what I produce will impact and inspire one set of people. While writing by another bride of Christ will umpact and inspire a whole other set. I love that!

They are fellow writers. They are fellow photographers. My artsy brothers and sisters. Not my competition. I may learn from and be inspired by them, or vice versa. But I will not compare myself or my journey with anyone else. It is a waste of time.

Like me…your journey to purpose depends on your choices. God will plot a new course for you everytime your choices take you away from His original course for your life.

He knows you are human. He is gracious. He is patient. He is kind. He is our Father, leading and teaching us.

The commonality ends there.

You are uniquely handcrafted by the potter. You have a heart’s desire. A passion. A drive to do something specific in this world.

You can choose to pursue this passion on your own, and in your brokenness. You may even be successful or monetarily rich. But fulfillment will never come if you attempt your purpose, your journey, alone. The hole in you will never fill.

The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 NKJV

But…when we partner with Jesus in the passion of our lives it changes the world.

Point to ponder while you wander…

A hope deferred makes the heart sick but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NLT

Becoming a Whole Me

I spent a lot of my life trying to behave perfectly to earn the approval and acceptance of God. Then for a few years, trying not to be smited because I had full scale run amok.

Truth is God loved me the whole time. He saw me. The real me. He knew the truth. He knew the lies I had been believing about myself and about Him. His heart broke for me.

I am clearly not fully living life to the fullest yet…but in reading Your God Is Too Safe today, I was reminded me how far I’ve come, and just how grateful I am for my relationship with Him. ❤ I continue daily to be in awe…

Holiness is not a bid to be noticed or loved or accepted by God. Holiness, rather, is acting out and acting upon the truth that God has noticed, loved, and accepted us long before we did anything to warrant that. It’s a discovery that we’re alive when we thought we were, and ought to be, dead. Holiness is simply living into and out that aliveness.” -Mark Buchanan (Your God Is Too Safe)

This whole book is hitting me where I live because I like my safe world with Jesus. I love it being me & Him.

But Jesus didn’t heal me so I could sit here be safe and hidden forever. For a season or two yes, but not forever. He healed me so I could live my life fully! Abundantly! He is the God of bigger than I can ask or even think.

He tells me repeatedly two things…

“You think too small.”

“Be open.”

Those two things are super scary…because I am very aware of just how BIG my God really is. I know what He is capable of doing with His kids…

Turning a shepherd into a king. (David)

Turning a barren old woman into the mother of a nation. (Sarah)

Turning a stutterer into spokesman who literally walked his people out of slavery. (Moses)

Turning an introverted girl into an outspoken Queen who risked her life to protect her people. (Esther)

Turning some guy from the sticks in a defeated country into a mighty warrior. (Gideon)

Turning an unknown wife living in a tent in the desert into a war heroine. (Ja’el)

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. ” 1 Corinthians 4:7 MSG

I believe that there’s potential in everyone to do amazing things. I can see the gold in people…even myself. I believe that the people above were born with everything they needed to fulfill the destiny they were born for!

Just like us, life kicked these folks down, and the world disappointed them. They were told no. The enemy lied to them. Maybe they believed it…maybe they didn’t.

But there came a point when these regular people stepped out of the safety of their little lives..and believed God. They chose to parner with Him.

As a result…a king, a mother, a deliverer, a queen, a warrior, and a heroine stepped out of the shadows and changed their world.

Knowing all this…I cannot help but wonder what will He do with me? And you?

You may not be a king…but maybe you’re a community leader, a state representative, or a mayor in the making.

You may not give birth to a nation…but maybe you’re one who empowers kids as a teacher, a mentor, or a foster parent.

You may be called to fight modern day slavery or sex trafficking.

Maybe you’re be introverted and shy…but you still have a voice!

Maybe you are designed to be a military leader or a police officer.

Maybe you are designed to raise a family and invest in those little people who will one day lead.

Whatever it is you’re designed for, walk in it! Live fully! That’s what freedom is. It’s why Jesus was resurrected!

Point to ponder while you wander… Freedom isn’t running amok and doing whatever you want whenever the mood strikes. It’s being able to be the whole you. Healed. Healthy. Real. It’s stepping out of the shadows and becoming who you were designed to be.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT

Maybe a Fence

What do you think of when you see this picture?

Do you think of home? Family? Protection? Style? Curb appeal?

I took photo this yesterday because it reminded me of wisdom passed on to me…

Don’t build walls. Build a fence.

If you’ve ever read Ezra and Nehemiah you might remember that the bulk of it is about rebuilding the defensive walls. Defensive walls for a city are a good thing. Defensive walls around a person, not so much.

If you build walls and isolate yourself, you may be protected from hurt, but you’re also not living an abundant life nor are you growing.

Tear down the walls, and build a fence instead. A fence is like a healthy boundary.

The gate in your fence allows you to participate. It allows you to communicate. And it allows you to let people in, some will be in the yard, some in the house, and some won’t be allowed past the gate. That’s why the gate opens, closes, and locks.

Only Jesus should be allowed access to every part of you. He has top secret clearance and need to know.

Everyone else has a varying degree of clearance and need to know. You need boundaries in every relationship.

Healthy boundaries foster your growth.

But walls so high they block out the sun, stunt your growth.

There have been times in my life that my walls were so high and so thick that I missed opportunities that God Himself provided for me. I simply was not open to anyone or anything.

I trusted no one. Not even God.

Truth is I was alive but not living. And I was miserable. But I stayed there far too long because I felt safe in the little world I made for myself.

It took time. It took effort. It took counseling. But I slowly began opening up to trusting others.

It isn’t always easy. You will make mistakes. I did! You’ll probably fall and fail a time or two. I do! Sometimes you will trust the wrong person. But you’ll learn and grow, just like I am.

Point to ponder while you wander…

Life is both miraculous and brief. So…

Maybe replace you walls with a fence and open the gate a bit.

Come out to play.

Be open to new adventures.

Trust God.

John 10:10… “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” NKJV

Isaiah 53:18-19… “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” NKJV

Psalm 91:2… “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.‘” NKJV

Love is a Verb: Touch

I could go on about how touch people love massages, getting their hair washed/brushed, sitting next to you, manicures, hugs, hand holding…and the like. BUT that is not what is on my heart today.

Today there’s a woman on my heart, for whom one touch changed EVERYTHING.

This woman had a bleeding disorder.

And in the culture in which she lived…this disorder prevented her from leaving her home. EVER.

Complete isolation.

This disorder also prevented anyone from touching her because she was considered unclean.

Zero touch at all…for 12 years!

12 years equals 3 presidential terms!

12 years equals elementary, jr high, and high school!

To me a quality time and touch person. That would be torture or the very least 12 years of love starvation!

During this 12 long years, she spent everything she had on doctors. They took her money, and left her in worse health than when she started.

So she suffered…in complete isolation for 12 years, and was now without any options.

Just so we are clear here…this poor woman was “unclean” so no one could visit unless they were family who lived with her. But no family is mentioned.

No phone or internet to chat with folks online. No tv. She may have had some books…but considering her poverty…probably not. So she’s most likely bored on top of sick, poor, and lonely.

Then one day….through her window… she began to hear stories of a man from Galilee. A man that was going around laying hands on the sick, and they were being healed.

Lame people were walking.

Blind people were receiving sight, and the deaf were hearing.

And hope crept in…

“…maybe…” She thought.

“I mean…I can’t ask Him to touch me..because I am unclean. But if I can just touch the hem of His garment…”

Faith rose in her.

Despite her weakness, she got up. She got dressed. She left her house. She pressed into the crowd until she could get no closer to Him.

Determined…she dropped to her knees…and crawled through the crowd.

I should also mention that touching a man that is not your husband, father, or son could lead to you getting stoned. And I don’t mean high, buzzed, or whatever kids call it these days…I mean rocks thrown at you until you die.

And still…she pushed on through the crowd until she touched the hem of His garment.

Suddenly…after 12 years…she was healed. No more bleeding. Amazing right?!

Well yes, but she was still considered unclean for 7 more days. And she touched a man who was clearly not a relative.

So she needed to sneak out of there SUPER FAST! But to her dismay she hears, “Who touched Me?”

Shit.

Well…she’s in Roman occupied Israel so she probably said something in Aramaic, Hebrew, or Latin…but come on! If this were you, and after what you have suffered in the past 12 years and you were almost out of there…you’d at least think…

“Damn. So close.”

But back to the brave woman…

She musters her courage and approaches Him…trembling. Then falls on her knees…

“It was me.”

Now I picture a whole crowd of townsfolk, who know who she is, falling over themselves to get away from her. I hear women gossiping, and men yelling their disappoval.

But not my Jesus. He is moved with compassion as she tells Him her story.

He responds by calling her “Daughter.”

It is the only place in the entirety of Scripture Jesus calls anyone daughter.

Personally I picture Jesus taking her by the hands, helping her to stand. Lifting her chin to look in her eyes, before saying…

Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48 NKJV

Point to ponder while you wander… Touch is a powerful thing. Like words, touch, can lift spirits, encourage, comfort, and even heal. We can all use more of this kind of touch in our lives.

But remember…Love respects people’s personal space and doesn’t touch people without their consent.

When in doubt…give a high five. 🖐❤

Ps…

Luke 8:43-48

Mark 5:25-34

Matthew 9:20-22

Unity of the Nation

I was just on the roof of my building enjoying the view of DC, and praying for wisdom for our president and our congress.

And this is what came to me…Our military is the best in the world, so chances America being taken down from the outside are not very high. But the chances of us destroying ourselves from the inside out are currently astronomical.

We are not United.

Why would a terrorist waste their time attacking us? When we the people are using our diversity as a wrecking ball against ourselves & destroying our own country.

History should be studied and learned from so it is not repeated.

But yet we haven’t learned a thing! Here we are fighting amongst ourselves over historical statues and skin tones!

Come on people. Take a deep breath.

Hate, fear, anger, wrath, rioting, and finger pointing do not resolve anything. And we all know fear is a liar!

People are hurting, legitimately, and I’m sorry to see and hear that. But knocking down a very old Christopher Columbus statue is not going to heal anyone’s wounds. It just won’t.

Is this what you want to teach the next generation of Americans? Do you want your kids and grandkids to destroy art and history because they are hurt and upset?

I sincerely hope not.

Listening. Open communication. Love. Kindness. Patience. Mutual respect. These are tools that lead to unity.

Unity does not mean we are all the same and have the same opinion. It doesn’t mean blindly following either.

Unity is diverse people coming together for the common good. It’s choosing to listen to those who have a differing opinion. Unity is choosing to be kind & respectful even when you disagree.

The goal of unity should be to build on the successes of the previous generation accomplished, and improve in the areas where they struggled.

Point to ponder while you wander…This is our country. We are the people. We, you and me, are the solution to the problem.

So please join me in praying for peace and unity for our people, and wisdom for our leaders. Please choose to be kind. Be the positive change.

The Bride

We are both the bride of Christ, and a heir, a son with an inheritance.

As a girl, I get the bride part.  But it’s weird to think of myself as a son.  I’m sure that for guys it’s probably the same in reverse.  Then I learned something…God is bigger and His Kingdom greater.  And there are things that don’t translate into this world completely.  He explains His Kingdom Truths piece by piece in ways that make sense to us in our experiences in this world.  Jesus’s parables are examples of this.

Being a bride is not about being a girl.  It’s about the beauty and intimacy of the marriage itself.  The relationship.  We, in our humanness, often translate intimacy as sex and leave it there.  That’s probably why close to half of marriages end in divorce.

In a marriage relationship, sex is an important, necessary and beautiful part of intimacy.  It is the one time when you are connected to your spouse body, soul, and spirit.  That’s truly beautiful.  But if people aren’t opening themselves up and sharing the deep parts of themselves and really connecting they’re missing out on truly becoming one with their spouse.

As a single person who has never been married, I’m relying upon what God has taught me about marriage from His Word and from watching the marriages of those around me.  The good, the bad, and the truly terrifyingly ugly that inspire me to remain single.  I’ve seen it all.  And through it Jesus has shown me why intimacy with Him matters.

And I’ll be honest I suck at vulnerability.  I have pretty much loathed it most of my life. It’s a battle that fear has typically won against me.  I am not a fan of revealing my heart to people.  I was very sensitive as a kid, and I was told to toughen up and suck it up.  But in sucking it up and rolling on, I just walled up the fragile parts of myself and never allowed anyone to get anywhere near my heart of hearts.  Not even Jesus.

Just hearing the word vulnerable or intimacy caused me to shut down.  But I had a break down of sorts, and as a last resort I opened up the outer layers of myself to Jesus, most of which were areas of brokenness.  When I did, I quickly learned that He is kind.  He is gentle.  And that He truly loves me.  As He healed the outer layers, I opened up more and more to Him. I’m tearing up just thinking about it right now.  My relationship with Jesus is personal and I keep that part of my life in my heart of hearts.  It’s not something I share easily with people.

So even though I love Jesus completely, I struggle talking about Him and how good He is simply because it opens up my most vulnerable place.  Jesus saved my life in every way.  He is my everything.  But when you tell people this kind of thing…they roll their eyes or say, “Oh amen.”  And it feels cheapened. Then I get angry.  So I just don’t tell people about Jesus.

Believe me, I am aware that this is the opposite of the great commission and goes against everything I should be doing as a believer.  But I choose to just live my life out of that relationship and the love that He’s given me.  I treat people better than I ever have.  I have a greater capacity to love people, even the people I vehemently dislike.  I am more peaceful.  I have a greater joy.  My countenance has lightened.  My perspective skews towards seeing people as Jesus sees me.

I tried to love people before…and I’ll be honest…I wasn’t very good at it.  I still have days where it’s hard to be kind and patient. But I find that I’m not as judgmental or critical of myself or others as I have been.  It happened gradually, just by being with Jesus.  I didn’t try to change.  I didn’t do a self-help book or force myself to be kind.  It was a side effect 0f intimacy with Jesus.

The more time I spend with Him, and in His Word, the kinder I become.  The more I want to put my arms around the world and just hug them until they understand their worth and value.  I cry a lot.  I am super sensitive, even more so than I was as a child.  Yet, I feel safe.  I feel protected and guarded.  I’m not afraid of being me anymore.  The Jill that God designed is sensitive.  She was designed that way because she is an intercessor.  And she needs to be passionate about seeing healing in the brokenness around her.  I was created on purpose for a purpose.  Praying continually for people, even people I’ll never meet, is a part of that.  This understanding came from intimacy with Jesus.  By being His bride.

Intimacy is defined as close familiarity, closeness and also private and personal, confidential.  It is characterized by an atmosphere conducive to privacy and comfort.  And it relates to and is indicative of one’s deepest nature.

It’s that picture of a bride and groom coming together in marriage.  The hope in it.  The joy in it.  The openness.  The joining together.  The partnership.

One of the things that helped me to understand what it looked like to be the bride of Christ was reading Song of Songs in the Passion Translation.  I highly recommend it, because in this version you can truly see the divine romance between yourself and Jesus.  The way He loves us is just so thick and deep and genuine.  Reading Song of Songs the first time took me about a month because I could only go a verse or 2 at a time.  It completely wrecked me (in a good way).

One of the first interchanges between the Shulamite (me) and the Shepherd-King (Jesus) is Chapter 1, Verse 5:

The Shulamite:  “I know I am so unworthy–so in need.”

The Shepherd-King:  “Yet you are so lovely!”

The Shulamite:  “I feel as dark and dry as the desert tents of the wandering nomads.”

The Shepherd-King:  “Yet you are so lovely–like the fine linen tapestry hanging in the Holy Place.”

This verse cut me.  I physically felt it like a scalpel cutting away my negative image of myself and replace it with, “I am lovely.” For months every time I’d have a “I’m so fat” or a “I am ugly” thought, I’d hear Jesus say, “You are so lovely.”

I will never be the same again.  Ever.  I can’t go back to before or undo what His love has done to me.

Point to ponder while you wander…This is what being the Bride of Christ looks like in my life.  What does it look like in your life?  I’d love to hear what Jesus has shown you about being the Bride.  Feel free to comment or to message me privately.  Same goes if you need prayer.