Monday, February 6, 2012

Quietly still

Solitude -a state of social isolation; the quality or state of being alone or remote from society.

Ahhh!  Doesn't that sound like Heaven?  I haven't been alone for as long as I can remember.  The closest thing to "alone" that I've become was when I lived in my first apartment.  I was in college but didn't have any friends to speak of.  There were no cell phones then (gosh, I sound old!), I didn't have a computer and really no one to call and chit chat with (except my family).  I felt very lonely during that time.  But when I met my husband, we got married, had kids, I haven't been alone ever since.  When I say "alone" I mean ALONE.  No outside influences.  Sure you can be alone when your kids go off to school and there's no one else in the house but you, but sitting on the computer and reading email, updating Facebook statuses, talking on the phone and texting friends is not "alone".  Being alone is being in a place of solitude.

Recently, I've noticed how much I've been weighed down with not be able to be alone.  I put the girls to bed anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30, sometimes 10:00.  By that time, I'm so exhausted, I can hardly make it through a half-hour sitcom before I pass out on the couch.  When I make it to bed, I'm still not alone.  One of the girls ends up at my bedside wanting to sleep in our bed.  Once I send that child back to their own bed, the next one comes in.  In the past few weeks, I've been setting my alarm to wake up at 6:30am.  I don't normally wake up my oldest until 7:30 to get ready for school.  That one hour in the morning gives me a chance to wake up on my own, make coffee and drink it in peace before my day begins.  Sometimes, my 4-year-old wakes up the same time my alarm goes off and she is such a morning person, she won't go back to sleep.  My day begins with her before my feet hit the floor.

I am, by all means not complaining about the lack of aloneness I get.  I dreamed about being a stay-at-home mom and many days are very hard days, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  What I am trying to get across is my great need to be alone with God.  I've been taught at a very young age to say my prayers, ask God for help, go to church, etc etc.  But I was never really taught to be quiet and still and 'listen' for God, really listen.  I may have tried it a time or two, but if there was no real voice to hear from, it didn't mean anything to me. 

So getting up at 6:30am did not prove to be the easiest thing to do.  I would sneak downstairs, get my Bible and cup of coffee and curl up on the couch.  I'll say a morning prayer, ask God for guidance and safety and begin reading.  Sometimes I get a whole hour to myself, sometimes I only get 15 minutes.  No matter how much time I get, I'm grateful.  On those mornings when it's really hard to wake up, I think about those mornings where my day begins before I have a chance to swing my feet out of the bed.  I find myself to be more grumpy and irritable with the kids.  On the days I get some alone time with God, I'm a happier person, more patient and more focused.

Being in a place of solitude takes practice.  The first couple of weeks when I curled up on the couch and started to read, my mind wandered to everywhere but where I wanted it to be.  My eyes would sneak off to stare at the ipad wanting to play the games, my mind wandered to the computer wanting to get work done, my heart wandered to guilty feelings wanting to get something else done while the kids were sleeping.  After a couple of weeks, I started to get pretty good at reading and focusing on learning something so early in the morning.  I eventually forgot about the work, games and chores I wanted or needed to do during my morning time.

Does God really "speak" to me when I'm in a place of solitude? No, but I did come up with this new blog theme while I was sitting quietly still, I have more patience with the kids, I'm more focus and have a healthier outlook on life.  God wants to help us with whatever journey we're facing.  And in order to receive help when we ask for it, we have to listen and the best way to listen is to sit quietly still.

John  15:5

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Giving Generously

2 Corinthians 9: 6-9

Remember this:  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written:  He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.

I chose this scripture due to the challenge my husband recently bestowed upon me when were were arguing over how much we should tithe to our church.  I feel we are not doing enough and my husband thinks we are doing what we can.  The argument is that I feel that although we are doing what we can (sometimes) we can still do better.  The argument went back and forth as if we were battling of the sexes.  There was no agreement, valid points from both sides and frustration because there was no hard facts given in our conversation.  It was just opinion.  He asked me to show him in the Bible where it says what we should tithe.  That stopped me in my tracks only because I know that fact is in there, I just didn't know where.  How am I supposed to argue without facts I felt so strongly about?
So I found it.  This scripture doesn't come right out and say a specific amount, rather, give what you can and be cheerful about it.  I do believe that the more we are able to give, the more we can do for God to do for us.  Afterall, He has given us this beautiful earth, a warm home, cars to drive, food in our cabinets, clothes on our backs and the list goes on and on and on and on.   There are times I reach into my purse and have nothing to give.  I try to make a promise to make up for it the following Sunday, all to fail again.  There are Sundays when I can give a lot and some that I have given only coins.  No matter what I'm able to do, I do it with a cheerful heart.  I've even given up my last few dollars that I was planning on treating myself to a special coffee, but found a better caffeine high when I placed it in the offering plate instead.  It's the little sacrifices that we humans can make such a big deal over that don't have to be a big deal to begin with.

The next time you go to church and consider those last few dollars in your wallet, consider what God may do for you when you give it with a cheerful heart.

Friday, February 3, 2012

You Are Not Alone
Isaiah 41:13

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I've noticed a lot lately that when I don't spend a few minutes with God in the morning, even if it's just to say "Good morning, Lord. Thanks for today," I tend to have a bad day.  I don't really realize it until it's too late.  When I've lost my temper, yelled at my kids and huffed and puffed through everyday tasks, I realize that I'm just trying to get through the day on my own, without God's help.  When I started to realize the error of my ways, I started talking to God all day long.  "God, help me find my keys!"  "Lord, the baby won't stop crying, I need you with me."  "Hey God!  Thanks for the front-and-center parking spot!"  I would imagine a hand on my shoulder and I would smile.  Sometimes it took all my strength to smile through tears, but I would smile nonetheless.  Just those simple words and imagination makes me feel so much better and all of a sudden, my bad day gets a little brighter and brighter. 

How do you get through your tough day(s)?  When you feel nothing has gone your way, everyone around you seems grumpy as well and you just can't wait for the day to end, do you say a quick "hello" to God and ask for help?  All you have to do is know that God is with you and you don't have to get through a bad day all alone.

You are never all alone
Just make His love be known
That God will never leave you
And your bad day bids adieu 
~Jill Wright

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Blog Re-vamp

A new idea....

I've been praying for a long time about my writing.  I pray for topic ideas that I write on Yahoo! and I pray to touch people's lives through my writing.  I've always wanted to blog but felt that if I didn't have a purpose to my blog, no one would want to read it.  Let's face it, there are a lot of general blogs out there about nothing in particular.  I don't have time to read those types of articles.  I'd rather read a good novel.  Anyway, every time I sit in church, I get overwhelmed with ideas and inspiration.  I'd take notes on the bulletin about what I could write or blog about, but once I got home I'd feel those ideas weren't good enough to write about. It's just silly stuff and no one would want to read it.  So I've been praying for a theme for my blog, a more focused purpose.

I finally got the mail....

I picked up the mail after two weeks of driving by the mailbox.  We aren't fortunate enough to have our own mailbox on our own porch.  In fact, we haven't had our mailbox near our house for over 10 years.  Getting the mail is rather depressing for me.  It's either junk or bills, so why bother walking all the way down to the mailbox?  When I got the mail, I received a letter addressed to me from my church.  Columbia Heights United Methodist church is creating its own Lenten Daily Devotional book.  A book you can mediate on a particular scripture each day that's related to Lent and the Easter season.  It's a 40-day devotional book and they chose only 40 church members to write one devotion.  I have been honored to be one of those chosen writers!  I'm so excited but so nervous at the same time.  I read a daily devotion from The Daily Bread and many times I don't understand that scripture until I read the little story that goes with that devotion.  How am I supposed to write a devotion if I've never done this before?

Me?  Walk away from a challenge????

Never!  In fact, I'm one of those people who prove very good points through challenges.  I'm right, I'm always right and my way is always better, and I'll prove it.....  ok ok, that's my "teenage Jill" coming through but I've grown a lot since then.  I might not always be right, but I typically don't walk away from a challenge, nonetheless.

I realized after I read that letter that my prayers have been answered.  I found the new theme for my blog.  I want to write a daily (daily?) devotion related to my life: as a woman, a wife, a parent, a friend, a neighbor, even as a human being trying to get along in this world.  I certainly don't want to come off as a preachy kind of blog.  I'm far from that, in fact, I'm nervous about this new theme for fear I "preach" something I'm not qualified to be preaching.  I want it to be down-to-earth where anyone can relate to my daily/normal struggles but find peace, comfort and maybe even answers through the Bible.

Holding myself responsible

I am still contemplating on even posting this blog idea out there.  I'm tempted to save it for a while and pray some more about it.  I want to delete this post and come up with another idea.  But I really do believe this is what God is calling me to do.  If I post this entry right now, I'm holding myself responsible for following through.  I guess for now, I can pray for guidance and some a lot of courage to at least give this a try.

Stay tuned for the very first daily devotional from All About Jillzy!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ohio's Crazy Weather

Anyone who has ever lived in Ohio knows how crazy Ohio weather can be.  In winter, the temperature can plummet to single digits and shoot up to the 50's the very next day.  Anyone I've known to come visit out of state usually end up leaving sick by the end of their stay.  I've made a friend with someone who moved to Ohio from the west coast and seriously thought she had a brain tumor after her first winter here.  When in fact, it was a sinus headache.

This morning, I woke up in such a great mood, even though my 4-year-old woke up super early herself.  I didn't get far into my daily devotion and Bible study homework but my good mood sustained itself.  The next thing I knew, the sun was shining, I had an overabundance amount of energy and I was cleaning the house.  The beds got stripped all the way to the mattress, base boards got dusted and I even cleaned out the lint and dog hair out from underneath the dryer.  I don't know what got into me... oh wait, I do!  The sunshine.  Glory be!  This sunshine is like a drug to me.  So as I was running the sweeper, I completely missed the spot in the kitchen where ants have gathered.  (Ants are a sore spot for me; that's a story for another time.)  I decided to spread some ant bait outside and noticed new Spring growth from my flowers and plants in the garden.
Some valley lily I can never remember the name

I was outside in my bare feet and short sleeves.  Uh.... it's February 1st today.  I even cracked a few windows to air out the house.

The Farmer's Almanac predicted a mild winter this year for our region.  They weren't kidding!  Only a couple of snowfalls that barely covered the ground and so much sun, it's hard to believe it's winter right now.  The only problem with this up-and-down weather is the amount of viruses and flu going around.  I'm sure this fresh air will come right back and kick me in the ass but oh, it will be worth experiencing fresh air in the middle of winter. 

Snap dragons that bloomed until the beginning of December.  This particular bloom was a little smaller right before Christmas and stayed that way until now.  It even survived the snowfalls.
My condolences for those of you who have to sit inside and work all day today.  For those of you who stay home, get outside!  The sun is the drug of choice and you can soak it all up today.  The weather is supposed to be in the 50's for a couple more days.  And yes, that's a heat wave for Ohio!

Lilac bush budding
Need to catch up on any of my Yahoo! articles?  Check out these few:

Make Your Own Lava Lamp
The Coolest Tie-Dye Craft Ever
Would You Die For Your Child?