Joseph

Joseph has always impressed me. He had found the love of his life, was doing everything by the book, got the news of his life and handled numerous angelic visits without falling apart. 

I believe that men are different from women. (I can see your eyes rolling!!)

We were in the Atlanta airport a few weeks ago, waiting for our flight home. A young couple was sitting across from us, both of them fiddling with their phones. I could see them watching us eating our sandwiches and splitting the fruit cup that we had bought for lunch. As they watched us, I watched them. 

She had perfect nails – French tips. And, her make up was a little overdone for the clothing she was wearing. He was spinning his wedding ring. I smiled at them and asked where they were headed. “Pensacola Beach,” they replied. And, then I went for it. 

“Honeymoon?” They smiled back and said “Yes.” We learned that they had been married for two days and had gotten up really early to catch their flight. They had left the cold temperatures of the upper mid-west and were hoping for some Florida warmth. It looked like they were going to get some sunny days at the beach. 

As we went back to our own activities, I kept stealing glances at the new husband. He told us that he was a farmer and that neither of them had been to Florida before. It was easy to notice that this husband of two days was protecting his bride, helping her with her bags and listening as she talked about what friends had worn to the wedding service. 

Jospeh not only had the love of his life to worry about, but a new baby too. It seems to me that each time God sent guidance to Joseph that Joseph said through his actions, “Got it, Boss.” And, he did get it! Joseph listened and obeyed.

I have been blessed by knowing some amazing men. (Yep, I’ve known some jerks, too.). But amazing Men of God I have know have done things that I would never have tried. They have carried burdens that would break me. They have remained silent when enraged. They have spoken in times of sorrow and pain when there were no words. They have worked in the cold, in the rain and alone late into the night. Men of God are humble and strong. They have faith beyond reason and love beyond measure. 

As we look at that little Nativity set on the shelf, make sure to notice Joseph. He may be standing in the shadows, silent and ignored, but remember that he is so very busy, caring about his family, listening for God’s guidance, getting ready for whatever is next. 

Love,

Jill (just on of God’s kids)

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“Then Joseph, her fiancé, being a man of stern principle, decided to break the engagement but to do it quietly, as he didn’t want to publicly disgrace her.

“As he lay awake considering this, he fell into a dream, and saw an angel standing beside him. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “don’t hesitate to take Mary as your wife! For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.

“And she will have a Son, and you shall name him Jesus meaning ‘Savior’, for he will save his people from their sins.

“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel commanded and brought Mary home to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her Son was born; and Joseph named him “Jesus.”” (Matthew 1:19-21, 24-25)(Matthew 1:19-21, 24-25)

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Mary, Did you know?

Earlier this month we were blessed to spend time with John’s sister and her kids and grandkids. While the adults were talking after dinner, the four grandkids present (ages 6-8) were playing hide and seek. We could hear giggles and running and shouts of “where are you?” and “you couldn’t find me!” It was great fun. 

But, John heard a comment that I did not. Apparently, one girl was counting while the other kids were hiding. The scramble to get into hiding locations was underway when one hider shouted, “Count slower, Woman!!” John and I have been using the phrase ever since!

“Count slower, Woman!”  I can imagine every loved one in Mary’s life saying that very thing. Her Mom and Dad didn’t get the angelic visit and explanation. And, even Joseph heard the story from Mary before the angel talked to him. Mary and everyone else had to live by the schedule of events that God directed. 

And, that’s why the song “Mary, Did You Know?” amazes me. Does any parent ever really know even a little bit of what to expect when that precious one comes into their homes and their hearts? Mary could not have known what life was going to bring.

“Count slower!”

“Give me a minute.”

“Stop and let me get my breath.”

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Mary could not slow down the plan that God had put in front of her. But, Mary didn’t complain or struggle, she “pondered” the matters in her heart. 

We know the things that Mary could not know. Let’s use that knowledge to deepen our relationship with our God this Christmas. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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Mary said (to the angel), “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever He wants. May everything you said come true.” And then the angel disappeared.”(Luke 1:38)

Doing the work

As a teenager I participated in contests that involved competition among several local churches with winners advancing to a “district” level competition, involving a fairly large geographic area. The categories of competition including recitation of a lengthly passage of scripture, an oratorical presentation, and musical talent in voice, piano and organ, and musical instrument. Once you won the district level of a specific category, you could not compete in that area for several years. 

Winners of the first level of competition were awarded a very modest (I.e. small) trophy. District level prizes were impressive: a larger trophy and a savings bond of $25. The prize was worth the work. 

I won the district level prizes for scripture memorization and for oration in junior high; I was excited to be able to compete again in those categories in the senior high division. I began memorizing the scripture passage that had been selected for that year’s competition. 

But, I got distracted. And, although I practiced and worked on the passage over and over, I really only knew the first half. The day of the first level of competition came and I knew that I wasn’t really ready. But, I decided, it will probably turn out ok. 

Competitors got to select the version of scripture that they would memorize. And, surprisingly, the judged did not have my version with them. Then we learned that I had no competitors. If I finished my recitation, I would automatically advance. And so, knowing that I was “good to go”, I relaxed and pushed ahead. 

Let’s just say that I really did not know the end of the scripture passage. My pastor was following along in his Bible as I recited the scripture and then I saw him close his Bible and smile as he continued to listen. He later said that he, a Biblical scholar, had enjoyed my presentation but was curious as to how the story I was reciting was going to turn out!!

I worked harder after that and nailed it at the district level, taking home the savings bond and trophy. 

Want the valuable prize? Do the work. You can’t count on judges who aren’t prepared or competitors who don’t show up!!

Want to enjoy Christmas this year? Do the work within your heart and your attitude. Soften your heart. Practice kindness. Focus on the love of God. Decide to praise Him with your every thought, word and deed. Do the work – God will bless your faithful and willing heart!!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

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)

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)