Monthly Archives: December 2016

For what does it profit a man?


If you hear a report that I was coming out of the men’s restroom in the Tom Thumb – it is sad to say, but the story is true.  But, in my defense, no men were waiting to use it and the woman ahead of me in line for the ladies’ room used it first. 

What will we do when we see a need?  How will we respond?

I know of those who have:

  • Given up a career
  • Rebuilt bridges 
  • Made up the guest room
  • Forgiven
  • Sold the diamond ring
  • Swallowed their pride
  • Kept silent 
  • Spoken up
  • Eaten crow
  • Taken out a second mortgage
  • Sought counsel
  • Tapped into the emergency fund
  • Given more than they had
  • Accepted
  • Stayed up late to talk
  • Bought the coffee
  • Worn the shoes another year
  • Moved into the retirement apartment
  • Loaned the car keys
  • Bought groceries
  • Kept attending
  • Volunteered
  • Pushed away from the table
  • Worked late 
  • Guarded the men’s room door for me.
  • Loved me when I wasn’t lovable. 

Stepping up to help others may not be profitable, comfortable or convenient, but it can change a life.

It’s time we gather together and make the changes that we know need to be made. Start now. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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Then He called His disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. “If any of you wants to be my follower,” He told them, “you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live. And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? For is anything worth more than his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)

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Breathe

Do you know that there are now apps for your phone to tell you how to breathe? They walk you through different exercises and actions to help you calm your breathing, go to sleep, have better digestion, etc. 

Breathing coaching is a new industry. We can read books, hire instructors and use phone apps to teach us to breathe. The funny thing is that the entire time we are researching and ordering and paying for information about breathing – we are breathing. 

Breathing is the first thing that we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we die. Job recognized God’s gift of breath when he said, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4). Breathing seems so simple, but it can become complicated – just ask an patient struggling with emphazema or COPD. 

The gifts given to us by God can be damaged by the diseases or sin of this world or we, ourselves, can corrupt God’s gifts. When we hide or overthink or devalue the talents and skills God has given to us, we eliminate our opportunities to use those gifts to serve Him. 

This year, do not question His gifts to you. Just breathe and praise Him! 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

Fake it til you make it!

I found this little picture on a Facebook posting. I love it!! Our attitudes are caused by many things. But, the biggest influencer is us!! 

I was talking with a friend the other day about a fight between their family members. It was bad and arguments and hurtful words had gotten out of hand. Everyone, including my friend, was tense. Not a good situation. But, the more I chatted with them, the more I understood some of the causes for the struggles. Resources are tight; family relationships aren’t good; one key family member is really sick. There is no planning for Christmas because other people could ruin any plans that are made. No one is happy. 

My friend asked me what they should do. My immediate reaction was “RUN!” Luckily, I kept that advice to myself – running isn’t an option. And, so we prayed and talked and got a few ideas that might help.  We talked a lot about trusting God and about their attitudes toward others, the holidays and their role as a child of God. 

God wants us to rely only on Him, no matter what the circumstance. And, when we give our challenges, our struggles, our fights and fears to Him, we really can relax. He is able to do what He promised; to never leave us or forsake us. 

After I had the knee replacement done, walking was a challenge. One day, my physical therapist gave me a good piece of advice – walk like normal. In otherwise, although nothing felt like normal, he wanted me to walk as if it were. It was really awkward at first. But, the more I worked at it, the better I was at it. Eventually my gate, my stride, my walk were back to a pre-surgery normal.

For, me trusting God, leaving my problems at His feet, has not always been “normal.” But, continuing to practice it is making it become “normal.”  

Try it; He works!  It’s your choice. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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This God–His way is perfect;the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

Hairs on my head

I’ve been addressing Christmas cards. This is almost the latest that I have done our cards. The latest was the first time we celebrated Christmas after we were married. That year, travel and work and stuff kept me crazy busy. I addressed our cards in Christmas Eve; they were mailed out on December 27th. Insane!

Each year, the card list that my computer produces includes names that neither John nor I recognize. I am sure that these names were on a club or group mailing list in some past year and have never been deleted from my file. If I have enough cards and a few extra stamps, I will send them a card. I always wonder if they get our Christmas card and don’t recognize our names either. That would be hilarious.

I am so glad that God knows my name. And, as a friend reminded me the other day, He has numbered the hairs on my head. It isn’t that He only knows how many hairs there are; but, He has numbered them. Perhaps hair number 3,665,981 got stuck in my hair brush this morning next to hair number 3,664,999. No one else would take the time to number each of the hairs on my head!

Feeling a little lost in the Christmas rush? Remember that if God number our hairs, He really does care about the things that concern us. 

Talk to Him; He is waiting to hear from you!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

You have time to get ready!


To make sure that I was warm enough for the Army/Navy game, I wore (not counting undies!):

  • 1 pair of tights
  • 1 pair of silky, long underware pants
  • 1 pair of soft, workout pants
  • 1 pair of bib snowpants
  • 2 pairs of socks (1 pair of kneehighs, 1 pair made of wool)
  • 1 pair of fleece-lined winter boots
  • 3 long-sleeved, long underware tops (2 silky, 1 fuzzy)
  • 1 wool coat
  • 1 nylon Land’s End coat
  • 2 stocking hats (1 “heat retaining” hat, 1 homemade)
  • 2 pairs of gloves (1 “ultra cold” pair with mitten palms, 1 pair light gloves)
  • 1 6-foot, super wide scarf
  • 2 chemical hand warmers. 

It was about 34 degrees for the 7 1/2 hours we were outside including pre-game, game, post-game fun and walking to and from the parking lot.

And, I was COMFORTABLE!! I was a little concerned, however, that if someone accidentally bumped me and I fell over, that I would not be able to get up without lots of help. 

When we prepare for something, it makes a difference. Is it time to prepare yourself for this Christmas?

  • The person you just don’t get along with easily. 
  • That food that you love too much. 
  • The gift that you did not expect to receive. 
  • The hug that is too long, or the kiss you didn’t know was coming, or discovering that you are the only one who is hugging everyone.
  • The uncomfortable “work” party. 

You have time. Get ready now! Put on that extra pair of gloves and brace yourself! You’ve got this!!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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“Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)

Kids and Christmas 


I love kids acting out the Christmas story. Put a young child in a shepherd’s costume and you never know what mayhem will result.

Last Christmas Eve, we were with our kids in Illinois. The Christmas Eve service at their church was wonderful. The crowd was large and so I really didn’t notice the kids in costumes. As the pastor told the story of Mary and Joseph, shepherds, sheep, donkeys, angels, Magi and the star, “actors” came out of the audience and took their places. 

At one point, the “angels” must have not been paying attention, because the pastor said three times, “and the angels appeared.” The third time, it was more like and THE ANGELS APPEARED.” That brought them running!  

After the story had been told and all of the children were in place, the pastor walked to the front row of the church and was handed a tiny baby by a young mother. He talked about Baby Jesus and then he walked over and laid the child into the manger. The audience was a little startled, but the baby was fine and the actors all stayed in place. 

It was then that he said to the kids on stage, “don’t you want to see the baby up close?” They ran from their places and surrounded the manger, putting the tiny one out of our sight. The kids were “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” and giggling and laughing. We could hear cries of “he is so little” and “oh, he is so cute.” After a few minutes, the pastor waded into the crowd, picked up the little one, kissed him, and placed him back into the arms of his waiting parents.” The “actors” also made their way back to their parents.  

I have to admit it, I cried. It was all too much.

This Christmas, may we have the heart of a child. May we ooo and ahh at the gift of the Christ Child. May we be in awe of the love that caused Him to leave heaven and come to earth in the form of man. May we remember again that He walked among us and that He knows of the struggles in our lives. May we give our hearts and lives to the Savior who took the penalty for our sins and was crucified on the cross for us. May we rejoice that He has overcome sin and death – the grave did not hold Him. And, may we praise His name that He will return and that we will live with Him forever!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids

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“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (I Timothy 1:15)

Paul and me

Over 30 years ago, I grew to understand a little better Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus. Don’t remember his story? Here it is in his own words. 

“My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me.” When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this.

He continued, “I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I’ve always been passionately on God’s side, just as you are right now.

“I went after anyone connected with this ‘Way,’ went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing.

“As I arrived on the outskirts of Damascus about noon, a blinding light blazed out of the skies and I fell to the ground, dazed. I heard a voice: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?’

“‘Who are you, Master?’ I asked. “He said, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the One you’re hunting down.’ My companions saw the light, but they didn’t hear the conversation.

“Then I said, ‘What do I do now, Master?’ “He said, ‘Get to your feet and enter Damascus. There you’ll be told everything that’s been set out for you to do.’ And so we entered Damascus, but nothing like the entrance I had planned—I was blind as a bat and my companions had to lead me in by the hand.

“And that’s when I met Ananias, a man with a sterling reputation in observing our laws—the Jewish community in Damascus is unanimous on that score. He came and put his arm on my shoulder. ‘Look up,’ he said. I looked, and found myself looking right into his eyes—I could see again!” (Acts 22:1-23)

What a great story. He was blind and then he could see!

But, we must not jump too quickly past the fact that he was blind. And he was blinded by a light that had blinded no one else around him. As his friends led him into the city, I wonder if they asked Paul if he was “faking it.” Or, did they whisper with one another that Paul must be suffering from mental issues. Paul could not have been confident that his sight would return. He was in the dark. 

I remember a time in my life when I could not leave the couch. My body was not functioning correctly and my mind was dull and disinterested in the world around me. I spent weeks and months not sure that my life would ever be the same or that I would ever again again live on my own. At work, people wondered if I was “faking it.” Friends at church were concerned that I had “lost it.” My family worried and prayed. And, it wasn’t until my doctor ran an obscure test and was able to diagnosis a rare medical condition that I was able to see a path out of the darkness.  

During this time of holiday preparation and cheer, are you struggling with a challenge in your life that is causing you to fear and to experience a darkness like you have never known? Do you know someone who is? 

Let me share a prophecy proclaimed by Isaiah many years ago:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2,6) This light, this baby, this Prince of Peace is Jesus. 

Friend, Jesus is a friend who is closer than a brother. And, even though you may be blind or couch ridden, He can bring light to your darkness. 

I would be happy to introduce you to Him.

Distract yourself!!

John and I arrived in Baltimore last night. We are here for the Army/Navy game on Saturday. This is my first time to see the game in person and John hasn’t been to one since he was commissioned; we are pumped! GO NAVY!!

Our flight landed at the Baltimore-Washington International airport right on time. But, as folks gathered their belongings to head into the terminal an announcement was made. Apparently the ground crew was working at another location. We waited on the ground in the plane for an extra 30 minutes. 

Our luggage arrived and it was off to the rental car building. The line at Hertz was really long, so John suggested we try to kiosk that advertised “live agents.” We started the process and got to meet “Ron.” We could see Ron and Ron could see us. He was a delightful guy but either he or the system was incredibly slow. The long line at the counter was gone by the time Ron had gotten done with processing our existing reservation. As Ron completed his final action, he and John discovered that the kiosk printer was out of paper.No problem, the line was gone and “Dena” was available. 

Dena was also delightful but the system required that some of the actions Ron had done had to be repeated. No worries, Dena got it done and we were off to find our mid-sized vehicle in slot 301. 

We bundled up and made our way to the parking garage. Only one problem – there was no vehicle in slot 301. Back to see Dena.
Dena didn’t recognize John (she sees many people each day) and listened to him explain our situation. She took his drivers license and paperwork and asked him if his name was “Linda Air.” Now, folks have called us a lot of things, but I have never heard anyone call John, “Linda.” John smiled at Dena and explained again his name and situation.

Apparently, the mid-sized car in slot 301 had been given to two reservations. Ok, time to start over. Dena and her colleagues were trying to figure out the source of the problem; we were trying to figure out how to get a car!! All was tracking well until Dena learned that they were out of mid-sized cars. We got a free upgrade and headed on our way.

Delayed arrival. Long line. Slow agent. No paper in the printer. No car – part one. Wrong name. No car – part two. 

Let’s face it – the holidays bring stress. My favorite way to deal with holiday stress is distraction.  

  • The toddler in the bus to the rental car building who entertained us by taking off her shoes and socks and her dad who kept putting them back on her. (I thanked God for her as her Mom shared how blessed they were.)
  • The beautiful couple walking hand in hand. (I prayed that they would benefit others with their wealth.)
  • The worker walking in shoes that were so worn and uneven. (I prayed for him and his family.) 
  • Watching John deal with all of the craziness. (I thanked God for His goodness to us.)

Find the distractions and you will find opportunities for prayer.  God is always available and when you talk with Him, He will talk to you. 

Love,

Jill

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Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8)

Our simple life

Last night we got an invitation to a Christmas party that includes a church potluck dinner. Oh my, is there anything better?

A few years ago, for a week we hosted a Portuguese young professional as part of a Rotary exchange program. The young man’s family owned a medical business that he would eventually lead; they were well off. His visit to the United States involved weeklong stays in several northern Florida cities with a daily schedule of tours and lectures and outings. But, we entertained him at our home every morning and several evenings. 

We weren’t sure what to do about church attendance on Sunday morning, but the program coordinator explained that our guests expected to do whatever was on our normal schedule. And, so we explained to our houseguest that we would be going to church on Sunday morning. I knew that the awake time would be tough on him. His home routine was to sleep in late and to work late. But, he was willing to leave the comfort of our guest room and experience an American, Protestant service. 

His reaction was fun to hear. He had not expected such a “lively” and “exciting” worship service. And, he enjoyed the sermon. But, his real praise was for what followed: a church potluck dinner. The folks at our church go all out and nearly all of the food that was being served was new to him. He later explained that he had never eaten either the amount or variety of food in his life. His breakfast the next morning was just several cups of hot and strong coffee. 

The week went by quickly. We talked about the economics and social issues situation of our two countries. We shared family stories and histories. Our conversations were often held outside, next to our pool, or on a picnic location of our community. Before meals John and I prayed aloud regarding the specifics of our day. Later, he shared with me how surprised he was that we enjoyed being outside so much and that our prayers were different every time. He realized that our daily routine of up early and to bed early was so that we could enjoy the sunlight more – he was right.

His food experience ended in a fun way. After dinner one night, John opened up a package of Fig Newtons. Our guest had proclaimed that he was not a “sweet eater” and he rejected John’s offer of a “fruited cake.” But, during the night, he must have become curious, because the next morning he confessed to me that a Fig Newton was the best food that he had discovered in the United States!  

When he left a day later, John and I prayed with him, gave him a small painting of Pensacola Beach and two packages of Fig Newtons and he and I cried as we hugged one more time.

Funny, before he visited, I was concerned that our lives were too boring, too simple and definitely not cosmopolitan enough to interest this young man. Instead, we realized anew that potluck dinners, enjoying nature, prayer and Fig Newtons were great reminders of how God has blessed our lives. 

Don’t apologize for what God has placed in your hands. For someone else, your life might be, for them, like eating Fig Newtons for the first time!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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Come, Thou Fount of eve’y blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount–I’m fixed upon it–
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

75 years ago today 


At 11:55 am (CST) today, we will remember that 75 years ago, at 7:55 Honolulu time, enemy planes flew above Hawaii, attacking, without warning, our United States military, killing 2,335 service members and 68 civilians. Another 1,143 military personnel and 35 civilians were wounded. 

There was no warning. No opportunity to hide. No chance to call loved ones and say goodbye. It was over in 110 minutes – a blink of an eye in battle terms. 

Today, we look at Christmas decorations and listen to carols, just as they were 75 years ago. This Sunday, many of us will get up and get ready for church, just as they did 75 years ago. 

And, the greatest generation got up and put their nation back together and defeated the enemy. But, they did more than that, they went to their knees in prayer. They helped their neighbor. They held themselves and others accountable. They sacrificed and worked hard, so very hard. In their fight against the enemy outside their door, they united as a nation under God. 

Just 15 years ago, our generation experienced an attack that came without warning. We got up and put our nation back together and today we still fight the enemy. 

I pray that Americans will examine and follow the spirit of the greatest generation. I pray that we will fall on our knees and seek God, care for one another, hold ourselves and each accountable, sacrifice and work hard and, once more, unite together, a nation under God. 

May God bless America and may America follow God. 

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)