Wednesday, June 22, 2016

31 Years

31 years ago two starry eyed kids walked down the aisle to join hands, hearts and families. The church was full, fans were blowing, windows open and the pink rose covered bulletins were used by guests to fan themselves as there was no air conditioning in the sanctuary. Sweat dropped from the grooms forehead as the brides stomache fluttered with butterflies. One of the soloists sang off key, the flower girl cried, and the unity candle flame crackled as the two exchanged rings, said their vows and sealed it all with a kiss. They had no idea what was ahead of them as they walked back down the aisle as the organist played the wedding march and guests clapped and smiled. What they did know was that they loved each other and with very little money in their pockets, love would have to see them through. As each year passed their love grew as they were blessed with three children, furry friends, a home, new jobs, memorable trips to family cabins, holidays and lots of laughter. And some years their love was tested and strengthened as they faced job changes, financial struggles, deaths, calls from teachers, broken curfews, dinner time arguments, bedtime battles, slammed doors and hurtful words. And throughout it all love remained the consistent piece in their lives. Love made sure that compliments were said, apologies given, forgiveness accepted, compromise and compassion exchanged, support and encouragement lifted, kisses and hugs shared, and time spent being silly, laughing, working and unconditional love. And as the years continue to pass and the children have grown into adults, grandchildren have blessed their lives, gray hairs and wrinkles have appeared and health issues have surfaced, their hope in the future, their faith in each other and in God and their love continues to grow each day as they walk hand in hand in this journey of life together. 

Happy anniversary Dave! I love you!

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Blessings,
Jill



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hello Summer!

This past year has brought me to my knees more days then not. It's been a tough one. Not only because my husband was diagnosed with heart failure in November, but I literally found myself by May, burned out and wanting to quit ministry altogether. The demands and obligations from both churches I work at took its toll on this girl. This past month I've been doing a lot of soul searching and what I realized so far is that a part of me feels empty, depleted. I've had this nagging feeling that there is something more for me but it is just beyond my reach. It's there but I can't make it out clearly to see it. It's as if I'm surrounded by a fog. I guess feeling overwhelmed and tired can do that to a person. But it's more than that. This month while I have cried and begged God to show me what it is I need to do, he has held me and whispered to my heart, "Slow down. Breathe. Be still. Listen. Pick up that pen and write. Be creative. And you will discover joy, passion and peace once again." Wise words for my broken spirit.
And because God is the great physician, I'm going to follow his orders. This summer I'm going off of Facebook, turning off the T.V, spending time on my deck and front porch, working in my garden, exploring my neighborhood, going for walks and bike rides, playing with my grandson, enjoying family, reading books and writing.
My hope is that during these next three months I will begin to discover a little more of who I am and where God is calling me.
I hope you'll join me as I seek God, joy, peace and summertime moments.
You're invited to join me on Instagram as I capture my summer through pictures.
Blessings,
Jill

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Giving Up or Giving To?

Lent begins tomorrow with the observance of Ash Wednesday. The journey of Lent leads us to the joyful expectation of Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter morning. Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians. Today many around the world will give something up for Lent as a way of fasting. And I understand the principle of giving something up but if we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps then shouldn't we also give something in return? When Jesus died on the cross he sacrificed his life so that we could have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven. Jesus gave his life to give us life. So if we just give up something, do we really understand the way to the cross?

As I've been praying about what I should do for Lent, God showed me something different. Instead of just giving something up, I’m going to give. My word for 2015 is “time” and I’m trying to incorporate it into every aspect of this year, including Lent. But what does that look like? To give time, use time?

Maybe it’s helping someone in need, volunteering at the food pantry, collecting items to give to one of our UM missions, meditating on God’s word, knitting a prayer shawl, taking a prayer walk each day and surrounding myself with God’s beautiful creation, writing a note of encouragement to a family member, friend or parishioner each day or reading the words of a Christian writer or theologian to broaden my faith?

As I look over this list it occurs to me that I will be giving up my time in one way or another to do something meaningful. To give up watching T.V. or social media is a way of fasting, but what will you be doing instead? What will you use that time for? When you give up a certain food, what will you do if you’re not eating it? Will you just eat something else? If I give up coffee will I just drink tea? If I give up T.V. will I just turn to my phone or computer?  If I give up Facebook will I just spend time on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram?

I believe that when we give something up for Lent we should give something in return. When a person fasts they are to spend that time they would have been eating a meal and instead spend it in prayer.

I like what God is leading me to do. Jesus didn't just die on the cross; he gave his life to give us life. He died so that we could be saved. He died so that each time we sin, we have the choice to ask God for forgiveness and in return God washes us clean with the blood of Christ.

That is what Lent is about. It’s preparing ourselves for what Jesus did for us so that we can give of ourselves to others. We are called to walk this journey of Lent following in Jesus footsteps.


Will you be giving up or giving to?

Blessings,
Jill

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Are we ready?

The wind moves outside my window as afternoon begins to turn to evening. I sit with paper, pen and hot tea and think of the future. There is a shift in my being and I know it is the work of the Spirit. It happened this past Sunday in the middle of worship, a feeling of peace, belonging, moving forward in this great plan that God has for us. There was nothing out of the ordinary during worship, but yet a feeling of electricity flowed throughout the sanctuary. Tears began to form in the depths of my eyes as my message came to a close. It wasn't the words that brought the tears but a feeling came over me that a shift in the future of the church had taken place; a rebirth, a restart, a new direction? Only God holds the answer that I pray he will begin to share. It’s a wonderful feeling that I hope doesn't end but continues to grow and blossom. This church isn't dead but has been resurrected and now walks a path of new life in a world where so many have turned their backs on God and the church. Could Rustin Ave. UMC be the new church? With its old stone facade, it’s stained glass windows, peeling paint and echoes of children running the halls between Sunday School and worship, could this be the place that God has chosen to do something more, something extraordinary? As Christians we are all called to continue the work of Jesus. To be the hands and feet of the one who taught, healed and died for our sins. We spend our time looking at the numbers in the pews to define if we are a thriving church, but numbers are only fun if the pews are full. The numbers that truly count are those who have been touched by Jesus outside these church walls as we live out our call as disciples. As we drop our nets and leave the comfort of our sanctuary and take the sometimes uncomfortable steps outside the doors of the church, are we ready to do the work that Jesus has called us to do? Are we ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus? Are we ready to meet the people where they are, to begin those conversations with strangers; those who are lost or discouraged, hungry or homeless, hurt or sick? Are we ready to be the new church?

Blessings,
Jill




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Word for a New Year

A New Word for a New Year

As I sit here at my computer on this last day of 2014, I’m looking back over all that it has brought to my life. There have been some incredible highs and some difficult lows. But thankfully throughout the year there has been more joy than sorrow.

In 2014 God placed upon my heart the word “intentional” as my word for the year. You see, I gave up making resolutions a few years ago and instead I choose a word that I believe I need to focus on. On January 1, 2014 I wrote this: This year I pray that God will help me to become more intentional in my life journey. To be more intentional in my relationships with family and friends, in how I spend my time (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually), in my ministry and in my time spent with my heavenly Father (in scripture, meditation and prayer).

Over all I believe I was intentional in many areas of my life. Relationships that were broken at the beginning of the year are now healed or in the process of healing and I am so grateful for that. My work in ministry at Rustin Ave. UMC turned from being assigned as pulpit supply to being their appointed pastor and with that brought new challenges; leading confirmation and developing new opportunities for worship. At Grace UMC, I took off my Administrative Secretary hat that I had worn for 11 years and became the Minister of Small Group Ministry, a new position at the church developing small group opportunities. I was intentional about my health as I began exercising and eating healthier. I had a mammogram, a physical and dental work done that I had put off for a few years.

But there were those areas that I was not intentional. Spending time with family, friends and God fell short. Reading and writing for pleasure were non-existent. And as I thought about this and why it happened I came up with the same excuse I used all year long. I was so busy I just didn’t have the time. Unfortunately, I did seem to have the time to watch reality T.V. shows, scroll Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s so easy to say I don’t have the time but in reality I just didn’t use my time wisely. It’s easy to make excuses and pretend that ministry and work have consumed all my time, but that isn’t the true reality of my life. The reality is I didn’t make the time, and because of that God has placed upon my heart the word “time” as my word for 2015.

Time; we can use it, make it, take it, gain it and lose it. We either want it to slow down or speed up. I love the line from the movie Steel Magnolias where Truvy says to Shelby, “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.” How true! The wrinkles around my eyes prove it. And then there is this saying, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” And that is also true. But this year I don’t want to just stop and smell the roses I want to plant, nurture, prune, water and enjoy the roses. Using my time, planting new ideas, cultivating relationships, nurturing growth, pruning away the senseless & useless and enjoying the bounty of time well spent, is what I pray for this New Year.

Being overwhelmed is no excuse to procrastinate and lose myself watching T.V. or scanning the internet. It means taking the time to plan, prepare and pray so that I will have the time to enjoy this life and all that it has to offer.

As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 begins, I pray that God will help me to use my time wisely, efficiently and intentionally so that this year may be filled with less anxiety and stress and be filled with more joy and happiness and time spent in the presence of the One who makes all things possible.

And I pray that each of you have a year filled with God’s blessings. That time will not slip away from you but that you will grasp it and live your life to the fullest. May 2015 bring to you a year filled with love, joy, laughter, and peace.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Blessings & Happy New Year!
Jill

FYI - To help remind myself of my 2015 word “time”, I purchased a necklace that I will wear (pictured above) from Kashoan Ward of Krafty Kash. I hope you will check out her beautiful line of handmade jewelry at KraftyKash.net, info@KraftyKash.com, or @KraftyKash on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.