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Jill
Jill is the Chicago Cenacle Social Media Consultant.
The Horizon
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Jill  »

Sometimes in life the wall feels immeasurable. When the day is so bad the minutes pass by like years. In the valleys of our daily realities we often trek further down into hopelessness. The peak just doesn’t seem attainable from this far down. “This is life”, we tell ourselves, and the pressure and pain is the process and price of living. In these winter seasons we can so easily lose sight of spring on the horizon. We have endured and conquered many valleys before. And as our faith matures with each winter season we recognize there is growth in the valley. Our healing does not begin at the summit. God is with us even when we feel He is the furthest away. There is victory in every tear we shed and heartbreak we have endured; Christ was there. With Easter Sunday drawing near let us remind ourselves, some winters may be long, but the glory of spring is on the horizon. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

 How do we endure when things seem impossibly hard?

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The Wall
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Jill  »

I am sitting here, searching for an inspirational way to share a story about courage. As time pass I sift through shredded puddles of collected thoughts and phrases. My pen wades in the haze of my own hesitancy. Oh yes, finally a spark of something smart. Or maybe not, just clouds where my composed reflections should be. “Writers block may have got the best of me”, I say under my breath. Should I give up? The frustration and unease of feeling” I'm no writer” lurk in. I must push past this murky wall of angst, and just try. The completion of writing something is a success, I think. And, even though it shines an enormous spotlight on my imperfections, it is not a fail I do believe. Somewhere in between the do and don’t, I land on the cliff of courage, and transcribe this climb.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to lean into courage to get you through a difficult task?

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Be Kind, and Unwind
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Jill  »

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the golden rule, for most of us it was the first rule we were taught as children. Such a simple phrase to remember but it is quite a hard one to practice. While we were young our circumference of interactions was small. It is not so difficult learning to consider those who already consider you. And I know, sometimes being kind can be even harder with those we love. Unfortunately, we even more so must practice being kind to ourselves. We must work our way inside out. Self-care, mentally and spiritually, is overlooked on a daily bases. Learning to break the bad habits of self-criticism and self-doubt will allow us to connect more genuinely in our relationships with others. So I suggest we make an updated version of our glitzy rule. Be kind to others and be kind to ourselves.

 

 

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Same God, New Me
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Jill  »

It seems to creep in the night, seeping in every waking thought with such precision. Lingering, taunting me in the grocery, at the movies and worst of all in my prayers (so I thought).  I hid from the sheer idea of it, saying to myself “no, I’m just hurt”. I swaddled myself in deceptive invisible layers that seemed to guard me but really kept me tightly wrapped in my own misery. I was in a negative emotional free fall of brokenness.

Spring 2003, my baby brother went to be with the Lord. I lived my entire childhood with the growing understanding all life’s first were just a faded dream for my brother.  So, you would think I would be ready. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for the heartbreak, pain and brokenness. I wasn’t ready for the anger. I was so very angry. It was a stench, that greeted my loved ones and every person I encountered. Anger showed up in every aspect of my life.  One day, I gathered up the courage to finally truly pray about it. I was done trying to slay this anger beast on my own.  Through prayer God has renewed my spirit, and where there use to be a gaping hole of brokenness; He has planted love and peace.

In what area in your life do you need God to renew you?

Psalm 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

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The Gift
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Jill  »

It’s the most wonderful time to get gifts. At least that’s what my inner child would say. I used to believe all the other Holidays were just fillers for the main event, Christmas! Once the leaves turned into their autumn hues, my brother and I were on high alert for the “big brand toy store” catalogs. We regularly checked the mail after school, and sometimes checked it twice. “It’s here!” one of us would shout, shoulder to shoulder with markers in hand we would assemble our Christmas list. Now of course we understood only a small percentage of the toys and games we desired would make it under the tree Christmas morning. And that was just fine by us, because our Christmas list was just a nonverbal proclamation to our parents of our hope for the grand gifts to come.

 

I wonder if Mary composed a list, in the months approaching the arrival of her son Jesus. As she prepared for motherhood was she contemplating all the things her baby might need or what kind of man he might be. Maybe it was beforehand when the angel Gabriel was sent to reveal that even though she was a virgin, she would conceive and give birth to the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:31-32).  Or maybe later, after visiting with Elizabeth when she declared “blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear” (Luke 1:42). Did she recite her list to her Heavenly Father in prayer? Or maybe she had no list at all. I believe Mary was stilled by the peace of the Holy Spirit; she knew she would give birth to the Messiah (the anointed one). Oh, I could only imagine her heart was full of HOPE, for the Grandest Gift of ALL to come, King Jesus.

 

What are you hoping for this Christmas Season?

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A Servant’s Heart
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Jill  »

As we embark on this season of giving thanks, let us remind ourselves thank you is not just a fragrant expression for the moment. But should also be the gratitude of our hearts through the works of our hands. While we gather together, break bread and give thanks; may we also serve one another with love. Giving thanks for the blessings bestowed on us should catapult us into moments of thankful service. If thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude then gratitude is the fruit of a servant’s heart.

 

How often do we use words when our actions could make a greater impact?

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Give Harder
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Jill  »

Work hard, Play harder. We have all heard this survival term of life. The teeth gritting, white knuckled, heart pumping work ethic we pass down through generations. Listen up kids! This is life, give it all you got! And in exchange for your time and energy, you will be granted a wage. We exchange our days and nights for monetary gain. Society has taught us to define ourselves by our financial success and praise those who receive more.

 

But what if we changed this phrase, that has been so deeply rooted in the structure of our society. How different we would live, love and even work if the lesson was ‘Work Hard and Give Harder’? Instead of working to reward ourselves, we would strive to live a life to bless others.

 

In what area in your life could you give more?

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Listen Out Loud
AUTHOR
Jill  »

Being silent was a hard lesson for a middle child like me to learn; silence was the last thing on my mind. I was more like “hey, over here” and “listen to me”; it was a overwhelming outspoken itch I had to scratch. That fear of not being heard can breed hasty attention seeking behavior.  As I matured that deep desire for a voice quickly seem to snowball from precocious into self-centered.

Like most adults, I learned if I did not harness this awful impulsion life would do it for me. Smack! Just like that life comes along and you are at a loss. A loss of time, energy, or words; all you have is silence. In those undesirable moments of quiet God creates a space for us to hear Him. We find ourselves asking questions, like “why” and “how come?” Through prayer I found peace and courage in my silence.  God unveils our truest selves when we seek Him, not a voice of self-doubt and angst, but self-discipline and endurance.

Have you ever felt like you had more questions than answers? When was the last time you quieted yourself to listen to God?

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Baby Steps
AUTHOR
Jill  »

I recently became an aunt. How exciting, I know! As long as I can remember it has always been a desire of mine to have that role in a child’s life. You know, creating memories, sharing embarrassing stories, wiping away tears and then sending them home to their parents. (I’m kidding’.) So a year ago when I heard my brother and sister in law were expecting their first child, my heart was overjoyed with anticipation of the birth of their beautiful baby.  Well, you can imagine since then, my conversations and camera roll on my phone have become consumed with all things baby. And so, the time has come where he is crawling, standing and even taking those first few steps.  Pressing his two little feet into the floor with such determination and a smile, it’s an impressive sight to see. Watching him grow and develop has begun to spark a since of deliberate bravery in my own personal growth. Babies everyday meet their challenges head on, they fall down and are right back at it again. If only that fearless tenacity carried over into our adulthood. 

Babies don’t have much hesitation taking those first steps; maybe because they have faith their parents are somewhere nearby to gather them up when they fall. We easily we forget our heavenly father is always there to do the same. When life’s challenges come our way, remember one foot in front of the other, our God is with us. Oh, how wonderful would it be a life without adversity and heartache. Just kitten kisses and sugar coated giggles, truly heaven on earth, but we would never authentically understand the peace of God. God meeting you in the midst of your circumstance, that’s when heaven truly touches earth. Psalm 30: 5 says “…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”, one foot in front of the other, we must rejoice because through a trial we may crawl, but with faith we will walk again.

 

When was the last time your faith in God helped you persevere through a trail?

 

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