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This is what my neighborhood looks like right now! Blooms everywhere! I loooove spring!
But if you look closely, you see these beauties are beginning to fade.
These fading tulips inspired me to appreciate the remaining blooms that much more. To take more time walking around my neighborhood enjoying every single flower.
Inspired me to be grateful for my sight.
Inspired me to thank the One who created this buffet for the eyes. The smorgasbord of colors and textures. The sheer variety of spring blooms.
If spring in Virginia can look like a fairyland….what does spring in His Kingdom look like?
Point to ponder while you wander….
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 ESV
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1
Point to ponder while you wander…Father God knew both the wonderful & the unwise choices the human race would make, so before any of our mistakes happened He planned to redeem us by sending Jesus. And Jesus agreed! So grateful to be loved that much.
Looking around my apartment this morning all I can see is blessing. Furniture and other items inherited, gifted to me, and items I purchased with money I received from a job I like going to every day.
And I am grateful.
Sigh. Unpacking sucks.
I recently moved and as I slowly (seriously snail paced) unpack my totes and suitcases, I realized there were still things I should have given away…things I just don’t need.
Tonight I started opening my totes of books…I will spare you the number of them…but in one of the totes I thought was books, I discovered my family tree research. More than that…it is multiple notebooks compiled by my Nana Jana.
When I opened the tote…it smelled like her house and tears overflowed my eyes. I may have hugged notebooks. Her notebooks.
She gave them to me about a month before she died. I didn’t want to take them, because I knew why she was giving them to me. But she insisted. It was much easier to take them than to argue with her. You really couldn’t argue with her. Ever.
I just miss her. So. Much.
She is the reason I am our family historian and researcher. All the information I started with came from her. She started researching in the early 1990’s. Right around the time she lost her Mom. Maybe it was her way of carrying the legacy forward. Maybe it was the way she dealt with her grief. Not sure 100%. But I’m grateful for the foundation I had because of her.
All the information she gave me she got the old school way…calling and writing letters to the family elders. Then she got stuck. She didn’t know how to proceed.
So in 1996 she asked her granddaughter, who was going to England for a semester, to check into some things for her while she was there. The granddaughter was really busy studying and flirting with foreign guys and didn’t really do anything. In her defense…she didn’t know how to look up that kind of stuff.
Then in 1999-2000-ish, same granddaughter..aka me…started looking things up online for her Nana. And got hooked by solving the mysteries for said Nana.
So my unpacking is currently delayed by me hugging her notebooks and running my fingers over her handwriting intermixed with mine, where I filled in blanks for her.
Even though I proved conclusively we are not related to William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame)…I did find interesting ancestors and entertained her with stories about our people. It was our thing. Like Scrabble and Dancing with the Stars.
So you have Nana to thank if you enjoy mysteries and family history. Cuz…
She started it.
Saw this little bird at the bus stop this morning, and my first thought was gratitude. God is my provision. Not my paycheck. Not my intelligence or talent. God Himself.
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!” Luke 12:24
Point to ponder while you wander…Nature is created. It isn’t to be worshipped. But should invite you to worship The Creator. Like today with that little bird at the bus stop.
Music. I love it. It is one of the greatest gifts God gave us. And the people who make the music, they are gifts too.
I’ve always desired to be musical. I joined band in elementary school. Probably the worst flutist ever to pick up the flute. I begged for a keyboard and piano lessons. I got the keyboard, but that whole two hands doing two separate things at the same time thing. Yeah. I cannot do that. I was in elementary school choir. I was in junior high choir too. In eighth grade, I was directed to sing so softly that I couldn’t be heard at a concert.
I realized then that maybe music wasn’t in the cards for me. Didn’t stop me from singing, I sing all the time. I also dance (AKA flailing) and paint (AKA creative therapy). But those are stories for another day.
What’s the my point? There is only one Kim Walker Smith. There is only one Martina McBride. There’s only one Natalie Grant. There’s only one Loretta Lynn. There’s only one Aretha Franklin. There is only one Doris Day. And there’s only one Jill Nicholson.
Jill Nicholson? Who’s that?
That’s me. I am Jill. I have gifts and talents chosen by God and entrusted to me to cultivate and grow. But for years I felt that because I couldn’t sing like I wanted, that I wasn’t talented at all. That is a lie straight from the enemy. Unfortunately, I believed it for too long and wasted years I could have been tending to the natural abilities I WAS entrusted with.
I believed the lie. So I took my ball and went home.
The parable of the talents comes to mind here because I did bury what I had inside and hide the talents I did have. I didn’t take photography classes because I was afraid I’d be told I wasn’t good at it. Then I couldn’t take photos anymore. I didn’t want a repeat of the choir concert incident. I only wrote for class assignments. Research papers and essays essentially. When I did write other things, I didn’t let anyone read them. I still struggle with letting people read my creative stuff.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24-25 MSG
I know the context of this verse is Jesus speaking about His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection. But this is what Jesus woke me up at 3:30 am to show me…If we take the gifts and talents that we have been entrusted with by God, both spiritual and natural, and we keep them to ourselves they are wasted. But if we take the time to develop them, and sow them into His kingdom, those gifts are multiplied beyond what we could ever imagine.
Nothing given to Jesus is ever wasted. It’s always multiplied in some way. I’m still chewing on this, because I know there’s more here, but this is initial revelation.
Point to ponder while you wander…Appreciate the gifts and talents in those around you, not be envious or jealous of them. Be grateful for the abilities YOU WERE given and be good stewards of them.
PS: Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25.
Today is my birthday. Here are some thoughts…
Random Thought 1:
Number of candles doesn’t matter because me, myself, and I voted unanimously to be 25 on the outside and 7 on the inside forever. #youthrenewedliketheeagles
Random thought 2:
My name means youthful heart and my lifetime passage of scripture based on that definition is: “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from deathand crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!“- Psalm 103:1-5
Random Thought 3:
I have this scripture of the day calendar. It’s one without the year so I can use it forever. I don’t always flip it everyday, because I sometimes need to stick with one particular verse for multiple days. But I always check out my birthday verse and it is:
.”Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.“- Psalm 36:5
This was been my source of praise through the 2 year suckfest and again now in a time of deep loss and grief. I am profoundly grateful for His unfailing love and that He never leaves me when I am in need. Such a wonderful Father.
Random Thought 4: Last year was a milestone birthday…and I wasn’t upset about the age. I was amazed at the fabulous friends I was surrounded by and had a party to acknowledge & celebrate them. I loved telling these amazing women what is special about them. Most of us cried. (Now I am singing it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to… HAHA) It was my best birthday party, because I left ealing loved and oh so grateful for my amazing friends.
Point to ponder while you wander…if your birthday number is large…don’t focus on that and get all sad about how much of your life is over. Instead concentrate your celebration on the people who’ve made all those years full.
I’m feeling random today. Prepare yourself.
I guess it’s because I spent a day and a half cleaning my room. This means that my body was occupied but my mind was left to wander all over the place. My wandering mind can find shenanigans too easily.
And yes, I actually spent a full day and a half cleaning my bedroom. A full day and a half! You see, when I get upset or have a lot of change I start piling things around my bed. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until one day I walk into my room and I can no longer see the floor. I call it “nesting.” I’m literally building a protective nest around my bed. It’s one of those unconscious things I do when I can’t deal with all the things.
And I’ll be honest…I’m struggling to deal with all the things.
Even though all the things are good.
- New place to live. Inexpensive. Great Roommates. I have the biggest room, mostly because I have the most stuff. Most of the stuff is books and art supplies, and a 5 foot stuffed alligator that a really dreamy friend won for me in England during a study abroad. Good times bringing that home on the airplane.
- New job. First full time job in over a year. Pays well. Benefits. Good coworkers, including a dreamy one who is the just the sweetest. Interesting work, most days. I learn every day, because it’s completely different than anything I’ve ever done. And I get to organize things in spreadsheets! (Don’t mock me I like organizing things, and I like spreadsheets.)
- New car. 2 years old but new to me with low miles. It’s the color of Yoda and gets like 35 miles to the gallon. I LOVE IT!
- New church. Well not exactly new, I’ve been there for conferences and to visit friends, but now it’s my church. The people are fabulous and the word is good. But for some reason I cannot settle in there. I don’t know why. It’s been a battle. God confirmed that it’s my church. I have peace about it. And yet I don’t want to go. So weird.
Do you see anything bad in this list? No. Me either. And yet I’m struggling to get into any sort of routine in this newness. And I’ve been lacking in the joy area lately. No joy=No strength. I’ve been trying to figure it out, and I realized two things:
1. I’m struggling because after the past few years of reoccurring unemployment, having my car repossessed, having my house auctioned, and my credit sliding into the 500’s, I simply do not know how to not struggle. I keep waiting for my job to go away or some other trauma or drama to occur.
God used these crappy years to show me His faithfulness and provision. He used this to show me that I don’t have to be afraid. In feast or famine He’s there. He never leaves. He didn’t cause my issues, but he used them to teach me and turn things around for my good.
Despite learning all of this and coming out of it with a new perspective, I cannot settle into my new life. I think that’s part of the other reason my room was a disaster, I wasn’t unpacking or getting comfortable here because I was waiting for it to turn ugly with my roommates, or to be kicked out or something.
I’m not a low expectations kind of gal. I’m a dreamer with a big imagination. If I don’t keep tabs on my thought life…I can be caught rehearsing my best original screenplay Oscar speech. Seriously.
I’m so frustrated with myself about the expectation of calamity and drama. I know that we receive what we expect and believe. If I expend all my energy being afraid and worrying, I’m actually agreeing with the Enemy’s plan for my life. His plan is to steal from me, to kill my dreams and bring sickness my way, and to destroy my joy and peace.
But Jesus came to give me life and an abundant life at that! (John 10:10)
So what is my deal? Why am I building a security nest? Why am I sad?
Am I not believing God? Do I doubt Him? Am I ungrateful?
No. No. And no. I believe God will do all He said He would do. He just does it in His perfect timing (Which is not my timing, clearly.) I’m so thankful for my job and home and car and everything else that I’ve been blessed with. God is good to me!
So again what is my deal? Or as David puts it, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again-my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11
This is where my second realization comes into play:
2. My new life isn’t what I expected.
Aw crap. There’s that expectation word again.
I had a similar breakdown when I turned 25. My life isn’t what I expected and I’m not where I expected to be at 40, and I’m sad about it. Some of that has to do with me feeling like I’m failing and like I’ve missed opportunities. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time dealing with my issues that I’ve not been doing anything beneficial for the kingdom. I feel like a failure. I feel worthless.
I know that these are lies. I know that I am valued by God. I know that I cannot fail unless I quit. I know that preparation time is not wasted time. But I’m still struggling with it.
Some of it has to do with God’s timing. I feel like expired milk. I feel like Mary and Martha telling Jesus that if He’d have gotten there sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Except that I’m saying, “Well Jesus, If you’d only given me what you promised in my 20’s then I wouldn’t have to be starting over again at 40.”
But I know Jesus is good. I know He doesn’t withhold good gifts. So why all the waiting?
“But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples,“Let’s go back to Judea.”John 11:4-6 NLT
The first point of this passage is that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And I know that Jesus loves me just as much. The second point of this passage is that when the situation looks absolutely hopeless from a human point of view, when there’s nothing more that can be done, that’s when miracles happen. That’s when God shows up and displays His glory for the world to see.
Points to ponder while you wander… You are loved. It’s never too late. The bigger the problem the greater display of God’s glory.
PS If you’re so inclined, read Lazarus’s story in John chapter 4. It’s an amazing story!
6 reasons why I am thankful for rainy days in the summertime.
1. My polka-dot rain boots.
2. My inner 7 year old gets to gleefully splash in the puddles.
3. I get to dance in the rain. For maximum enjoyment, I highly recommend looking up and feeling the rain on your face while you twirl.
4. My grass turns bright summer green and my flowers get watered.
5. The possibility of a rainbow. Who doesn’t love a rainbow?
6. Blue-skied, sunshine-filled days always pressure me to go and DO something. Rainy days let me BE. If I want to read all day in an over-stuffed chair. Rainy days will not judge me.
Something to ponder from under your umbrella…”Those who believe only the sunshine can bring happiness have never danced in the rain.” – Unknown
I need to share something I read on FB last week. It impacted me deeply and I am going to tell you why, if you don’t want to know why, feel free to scroll down.
I had made a vow as a nine year old that walled me in from allowing myself to be loved. It was in reaction to nearly losing my mom. While I didn’t actually lose my mom, she’s still alive and kicking and completely fabulous, the thought of losing her crippled me in a way that I have no words for. I was terrified of loss. So at the age of nine after a complete bawling session, I washed my face and looked my little blonde self in the mirror and said, “I will never need anyone again.”
Here are some effects of this vow:
1. I sabotaged relationships and only committed myself to relationships that I knew couldn’t possibly work.
2. I struggled with commitment to anything, even though I craved stability.
3. Even though I had my mom and still have my mom, I didn’t really let her be my mom. I could be found most often trying to be her mom or trying to distance myself from her as far as possible. It would be easier for me that way, like it wouldn’t hurt so much if I lost her. Wow. That doesn’t sound crazy at all, does it?
I need to take a minute to tell you about my little tiny mom. (She’s 4’10” and weighs about 100 lbs…so I call her my little momma). My mom is not perfect, but I have to give her a shout out here. I was not the easiest child to raise (rebellious, mouthy, attitudinal, angry, ran away from home and hitch-hiked to Florida with my boyfriend and one of my best friends at age 17…you get the picture). But she was always there. She never left. My mom is stubborn, honest, and fiercely loyal. She always went to bat for me, and she still does. One could do worse than to have a mom who will fight for you and against you when needed. She made a choice to love me and she never stopped, even when it was hard. Thank you, Little Momma!
4. I went to college and got a degree, but didn’t go after photography and writing which were my actual dreams. I was afraid they would tell me I wasn’t any good at writing and photography, and I couldn’t bear to hear it. So I majored in International Relations (AKA wanting to live in foreign countries where accents abound).
5. I didn’t really try or challenge myself in High School or College because I didn’t want to fail. I always took the easy road, whichever path did not require effort. Why go after what you want? If you do, and do manage to get it, you could lose it. So I didn’t take any risk. Fear of failure, check. Fear of success, check. Crazy, check check.
The kicker is that I had no idea why I did these things. I only understood recently that the reason I was so afraid was wrapped up in a fear of loss and a vow I made at nine years old.
I never told anyone of this decision not to need anyone. I didn’t even remember it until God showed me why I was struggling so hard to give and receive love and why it was so incredibly difficult for me to allow anyone to bless me or help me. This vow was made to protect myself, but really what it did was isolate me and prevent me from really receiving the love I so desperately wanted. I believed that the lie that I wasn’t really loved. I believed the lie that I was a mistake that needed to be erased. I believed the lie that I did not need anyone, not even Jesus. Although I accepted Him as my Savior “just in case” because I was afraid of eternal fire and damnation.
Yes, I am aware of what a mess I was. Yes, I am aware of how crazy all of this sounds and is. It’s why I love Jesus so much. He loved me even when I was completely unable to love Him. He loves me still. And I am crying now. (Deep breath taken here.)
I disavowed that vow and asked Jesus to help me to undo it. I don’t know what kind of help I expected. But I certainly was not expecting a season where I had absolutely no choice but to allow people to help me and ask for help. I have always been willing to give, but receiving has been near impossible for me. And now I have to let people help me, even though I have no way to repay them. I have to trust that Jesus will repay what I cannot. I pray blessing over those that have come along side of me and been helping me. I hope that someday I will be able to pass on what I have been given to other people.
And now I am crying again…sheeesh. I seem to cry a lot these days. Not because I’m sad. But because I am overwhelmed by love and generosity and kindness of the people in my world. Something I never would have experienced if God hadn’t shown me this deeply embedded root. Gratitude abounds in a time when I don’t have a whole lot that seems to be going right.
That being said…here’s a post by Jo Ellen Stevens. (Note: I copied the following word for word. I did not write it, nor do I own the content.) I hope that this helps you.
WHEN MY VOW BECAME A GOD
Jo Ellen Stevens
” If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break and profane his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:2 (AMP)
The Lord spoke to me the other day out of the blue and began to show me something about many of you. He began by reminding me of my story. When I was very, very young I was married to a man that was abusive both verbally and physically. I don’t tell you this story to gain your sympathy or to make excuses for my life but to see you set free of something that you may not even realize has controlled your life for many years…
While I was married to this man back in 1969 I became pregnant with the only child that I ever had and is now with the Lord.. Because of some of the abuse I believe I lost this child.
When I began to miscarry he took me to the Airforce hospital in Michigan that we were stationed at and there he left me in this cold room with no one to be with me.. I remember there being another person in the room in another bed . I was in full labor because I was about five months along.
I remember at one point a nurse coming in and saying to me that I needed to be quiet so as to not disturb anyone else.. So as silently as I could in that much pain I finished having this miscarriage. The next morning I woke up to go to the restroom and passed out..The next thing I knew I was back in bed and they told me that I had, had a DNC. I didn’t even know what that was I was just 16 years old and didn’t know much about life…
When I came out and went home my husband began to tell me how fat I was, so I ate nothing but beef broth until I was down to my size three clothes again. I found out from someone that my husband had been at a party all the while that I was in the hospital with another woman.
The next week we went to a place with some friends and I was in the back seat and started crying as I was telling the other lady in our car about my miscarriage and my then husband stopped the car abruptly and turned around and began slapping me over and over..
I told you all of this to show you where I was going with this.. Many years later after I had been divorced and had gotten married to my husband now of 25 years. I was in my basement ironing and I was asking the Lord what caused my perfectionism that had driven me and everyone else nearly crazy for many years..
He showed me that at that moment that the incident happened that I had Vowed a Vow in my heart that I would never let another man do that to me again..That I would always be the prettiest and the skinniest, the best house keeper etc….
…He said that I needed to disavow that which I had vowed.. I cried all day but God set me free..
Now just the other day the Lord spoke to me again and said this…. He said that when you vow a vow that was not of him that the vow begins to inwardly govern your life and it becomes a God to you instead of Him..
He said many of my people in tough situations in their lives have become perfectionists and many other things because they vowed a vow that was not of Him..They have blocked out my will for their life because it had become a constitution to them…
He said that He wanted me to bring this out so that any of you can ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light on these areas and you can be set free to be obedient to Him again…
So ask the Lord right now to shine His light in any area that you have made your own constitution. He is ready to set you free…. It is not an easy thing to do .It will tear you up inside but it is a good tearing.. You will feel so free when this happens!!
Many of you will be healed in your body right now as you allow this to happen…. Glory to our Deliverer!!!
Father, we ask you to shine your light on those places in us that we have not yielded over to you because of ungodly vows in our time of pain.. We ask you to cleanse us of that and let your Holy Spirit teach us how to walk in freedom and obedience to your will In Jesus Mighty Name!! Amen!!
Arise,shine! Jo Ellen Stevens