Community

What Your Waiter Isn’t Telling You

St_Johns_Lutheran_Church_Rabbit_Hill_Alberta_Canada_02AImagine a large family getting ready to attend church on a Sunday morning. This isn’t your family, and it’s not mine either. This is the most unusual tribe you’ve ever met. There are a dozen sisters and just as many brothers, and they share a tiny home. To fully appreciate the chaos in the home you’ll need to know there is only one restroom to facilitate grooming, and there are not enough clean socks for all the feet. Now just to make things even more interesting, there is a language barrier.

This family would obviously struggle in their efforts to get to church in a timely manner. However, upon their arrival to a quaint steeple, hillside church, each teenager would grab the hand of a younger sibling and walk them safely to the fold. The morning crying and the chaos would be history, and the family would be presented as a unified structure of grace.

This is the life of your restaurant waiter.

A food server’s shift is immersed with duality. The conversations, attitudes and behaviors of the staff while they are working with guests in the front of the restaurant are quite different than what takes place back in the kitchen.

To an outsider, the seemingly disrespectful way in which the restaurant staff sometimes speaks to one another when they are in their safe place (a.k.a. the kitchen) might be alarming and even offensive. But truth be told, it is no more startling than the comfortable communication between siblings. The intense and rigorous work a restaurant staff undergoes forms a familial bond.

Perhaps a reader objects, “Wait! The same is true for my staff at (insert company logo here). We are definitely like family!”

I don’t disagree with you, dear reader, but when you leave (insert company logo here) ninety percent of you end up at a restaurant with your closest pals to debrief the week’s events or to complain about your coworkers. In other words, even those of you who don’t work in a restaurant still go to restaurants. They are the most common meeting ground in every developed Nation. For this reason, we are going to concentrate on restaurant workers today.

The nod I want to give to restaurant workers comes from deep within. If this blog post had hands, it wouldn’t be a formal handshake to thank a food server for a job well done. This blog would be a lasting hug to a wealth of people who have reminded me of the importance of building community wherever you land.

Late last Saturday night, at the end of an emotionally and physically exhausting eleven hour day, my husband met me at the restaurant where I have the privilege to serve. I enjoyed a fruity craft beer, and my husband and I shared a Mexican apple pie with cinnamon ice cream and brandy butter on a sizzling fajita skillet; a delicacy that neither of us have any business eating late at night.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and at some point over the weekend, I had allowed the bandit into my head. As I sat with my husband relaying the struggles I was battling, he made a request:

“Name three things about today that you are thankful for.”

I turned my head towards a passageway to the kitchen, and at that precise moment two young women, fellow food servers who are close in age to my adult children, were coming through the doorway.

“Them,” I replied to my husband.

Image-1I shared with my husband that if I were to list the things I am thankful for, these women would be at the top of my list. Yes, I was thankful for the guests I had the chance to serve; thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with returning guests who remembered my name. Yes, I was deeply moved by a heartfelt conversation I had with a young female guest who is a recent widow. Of course, I was humbled and grateful for a couple of great tips. These moments are always welcome, but I am not surprised when I am blessed by obvious good.

This is why I am inspired by the community of people I get to work alongside amid moments that are, more often than not, quite demanding. I am inspired by the playful bickering that happens in the back of the house. The complaining, the inside jokes, the bending of the rules, the calling each other out, the “happy to do it” sarcasm, but all of it with the knowledge that they have my back. On even the longest night, each of us is never alone.

  • Do you have time to take two waters to table 52?
  • Can you box my food on 13?
  • Will you run my bar drinks to 16?
  • I’m caught up, can I help you with anything?
  • Can you follow me with the fajitas?
  • Can you greet 61?

The struggle to do what needs to be done to create an enjoyable experience for our customers is not done merely for tips. Sure, having a great paying job is important and I don’t take that reward lightly, but in all honesty, the entire restaurant staff works hard for each other. Those who wear name tags work hard for the people in the back of the restaurant who aren’t working for tips. If a food server reflects poorly on the restaurant, the customer may never return. If the customer doesn’t return, then there is less money coming in. If there is less money—there may be less hours available for the cooks. If there are less hours for cooks, one of the cooks may lose their job.

That matters to me if the cook is Chuy.

When a position becomes a person our heart is less apathetic toward the situation.

And it’s not just in the chaos that restaurant workers experience familial love. It’s in brokenness. When a team member’s weakness seeps to the surface the family responds. When the weakness is pride it becomes a bad enchilada for everyone; a selfish attitude harnesses a weakness in the tribe making it hard for everyone to do their job. Because of that, I’ve witnessed staff push back and struggle to overcome workers who have become prideful or greedy. The intensity of the job sometimes means the situation is not handled with soft spoken words.

Of course, at other times, soft spoken words sneak around the corner and find you near the walk-in refrigerator.

Two female servers stand rolling silverware. Both have been on their feet for ten plus hours; carrying trays, taking orders, delivering drinks, warming tortillas, restocking glassware, negotiating with cooks, submitting to managers—basically, just doing the job.

One server begins to break down. Tired and fearful, her comparisons have convinced her she is failing at something that she feels she should have mastered by now. The other server, her sister and friend, responds with grace and speaks truth to the situation. These two women were born on opposite sides of the Nation—one is a Jersey girl while the other is a California native. They would have never met were it not for a restaurant in the middle of the Arizona desert. Age and upbringing are irrelevant. Failures and regrets are insignificant. In this moment what matters is love and encouragement.

The younger of the two women, the Jersey girl, disappears for a moment. While she is gone the older woman continues rolling a knife, a spoon, and a fork into a black cloth napkin. Her mind drifts back one year.

Arriving in the town where she and her husband were separated from every other family member, including their children, was surreal. Taking a job in a restaurant because she saw it as “just a job” reminds her of how limited her worldview had become. Every job has significance in the way it shapes the people we become and the community we create. Restaurant workers spend nearly every weekend together—engaging, challenging and conquering rough situations.

The Jersey girl returns holding a wet rag. “I cleaned the high chairs,” she announces.

Image-1(1)Five simple words? No. A novel. These words are lovelier than a psalm or a Shakespearean sonnet.

The Jersey girl just did the Californian’s side work for her.

Hearing the brokenness of the Californian motivated the Jersey girl to respond to her sister with a physical gesture of love. There were no extra tips, and it didn’t help her to get out of the restaurant earlier. In other words, there was nothing “in it for her”.

Maintaining sanity in this particular high intensity, repetitive job is not merely done for the hope of 20% in tips. That money is here today and gone tomorrow. Overcoming self, inspiring another person and experiencing life with a wide variety of uniquely crafted people are not garnishes in life—they are the main course. These are things that money cannot buy.

But, should you stop in for a meal, don’t forget to tip 😉

Community

Grandparent: The Verb I Am

FullSizeRenderMy first grandchild, my granddaughter Isla (pronounced “eye-Luh”…as in Island), turns TWO today. As we prepared to celebrate her little life at a Minnie Mouse themed birthday bash, I got to thinking about the things I would be willing to do for her. I got to thinking about the effect grand-parenting has on those of us who get to walk that path. 

For as long as there have been grandparents there have been toddlers giving their parent’s parents unique pet names. Not every grandparent ends up with the title Grandpa or Grandmother. I have a friend whose grandchildren call her “Googs” and another friend whose granddaughter named her “Dit”. Two and a half years ago when my daughter announced her pregnancy, I was consistently  asked what name I wanted to be called. Most of the time I answered with a simple shrug. The name didn’t matter, as long as it was ascribed to me by my granddaughter.

FullSizeRender5About a year ago my husband had to take a job in another state, which meant we had to relocate. Because I tend to feel things deeply and struggle to see promise when I’m fearful, I was devastated. I felt like our relationship with our granddaughter was going to be severely altered. I feared Isla was too little for us to sustain a long distance relationship. At a friend’s suggestion, each time I would talk to my granddaughter on FaceTime, I would read her a book. Her favorite being Grandma & Me. In the flap book, the little girl, whom we affectionately named “Bacon-Head Isla” asks, “Who’s at the door?” and when the reader lifts the flap, “It’s Grandma!” My granddaughter picked up on the clues, and and gave me a name. I became Door.

Fortunately, that passed, and I am no longer Door. A new name came into play and my granddaughter now calls me “Am”. Yep, Am. I am Am.

FullSizeRender6I have to confess, it’s a little weird to have become a verb. From the moment I was born and the doctor first spanked my pink bottom and declared, “It’s a girl”, I have spent a lifetime being a series of nouns. I have been a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a student, a cheerleader, a baseball player, an actress, a girlfriend, a speaker, a waitress, a secretary, a fiance’, a wife, and a mother. Mounds of nouns, and I cannot recall a time in my life when my titled role was a verb.

FullSizeRender7But, I also cannot remember a time as remarkable as this season called Grand Parenting. It’s widely known by every parent that a grandchild is God’s reward for not murdering their teenager. Seeing your own child become a parent is easily the most fascinating and fulfilling moment in parenting. There is a passing of the baton from one generation to the next. With a wink and a nod, you watch as your child becomes, not the parent you were, but a better version of the parent you wanted to be. In every way we hope that our children will “turn out” better than we do, and when we see it happening it’s invigorating.

FullSizeRender3Looking into my daughter’s eyes the night her daughter made her entrance into the world was fascinating. It was as if we shared a secret. A secret that could only be understood by she and I, and every other parent in the world. It’s a secret feeling. A new feeling. It’s the “someone just dropped me into an ocean and I’m going to drown in this love” kind of feeling. Knowing your child is engulfed in this new found love is worth every moment of frustration endured with them in adolescence. In that moment, you don’t have to say, “See…” or “I told you so!” because the littlest member of the tribe is saying it to their hearts in a way that is much more powerful.

But that’s just half the story. The other half of the story is the way it changes us. As parents, we already experienced being dropped in the sea of love; as grandparents we experience the ocean differently. When we meet the child of our child we are washed with a wave of love. Each interaction with them brings a new tide, a bigger swell of love.  And in a way, becoming a grandparent allots us each the opportunity to become a verb. Not because we weren’t active as parents, trust me–there is no amount of time that will erase my memory of how much work it takes to care for young children. As grandparents we receive the activity differently. Grand-parenting reminds us of the things we loved about parenting, but were often too tired to always enjoy.

FullSizeRender4Changing a diaper.

Reading a story.

Running a comb through thick hair.

Holding a hand.

Throwing a ball.

Receiving a kiss.

The truth is, for the first time in our lives, we understand how sacrificial love can feel good. Being a Verb Grandparent, it’s suddenly easier to get up, scoot lower, crawl under and carry more–not because our bodies are more fit, but because our hearts are more willing. Being a Verb Grandparent enables us the opportunity to serve with an appreciation for how fleeting the experience will be.

FullSizeRender8We’ve already lived through the life of a toddler and seen how rapidly they grow and change. We are quick to advise new parents to avoid “blinking” lest they miss an important milestone. In one moment our children were asking for help with turning on the bathroom faucet and in the next moment they are asking if they can go camping in Zion with seven of their friends.

Verb Grandparents have less pressure. As a parent there was a looming fear of failure, but this time around we don’t carry the same burden. Most of us have little fear about making the smallest member of our tribe feel important and special. We can see they are brilliant, and because this isn’t our first trip to Disneyland, we know that as long as they feel loved–everything else will eventually fall into place.

 

 

Kimly's Trade

Why I am Thankful for my Failure

11168856_10153348741096970_5894260610798824795_nToday is the final day of a fundraising campaign that didn’t reach its goal, and we are thrilled about it failing.

There are a couple of reasons the failure  brings us pleasure. First, it is a reminder that God has called us to walk by faith in all things. The phrase, “One Step at a Time” or “Walk by Faith” are quickly tossed to people who are facing difficulties. If a friend tells you their child has been diagnosed with a rare disease, if a coworker shares the shame of an upcoming bankruptcy, or if a close friend admits to an addiction it is natural to offer hope by reminding them to walk in faith. We know that while our loved ones can’t see their way out of the darkness–walking through it one step at a time is all that is required.

Through this experience, we have been reminded that the same is true for good things. If an adventurous soul wants to accomplish their dreams, they still have to walk by faith and shower themselves with the same grace they would offer to someone who feels like their life is in chaos. Faith walking is not reserved to the chaotic life, it’s an everyday calling–for ordinary souls to achieve their daring dreams.

The second reason we are thankful we didn’t reach our targeted goal is because the goal got better.

When we realized we weren’t going to raise enough money to hire an experienced fictional editor AND pay for self publishing, we had to make a choice. It was going to have to be one or the other. Trust me, it wasn’t an easy decision. If we used the money we raised to hire an editor, we may end up with a polished manuscript–but how would we get it to those who had made pledges? And if we decided to forgo the editor and publish the manuscript in its raw state, would we be missing a step that could make the work more appealing and convey its message more clearly?

After praying and rehashing the situation, we decided that there was much more to be gained {and risked} by using the funds to hire a seasoned editor, even if it meant we wouldn’t have the necessary funds to self-publish. We decided that while self-publishing may be where we eventually land, we didn’t have to go to that place without first getting the manuscript into the best shape possible, then pursuing an agent and publishing house.

I don’t read my writing the way other people read it, so I cannot imagine an agent or a publisher seeing its value, but because we didn’t raise the money to do both, I am taking a step of faith that I would have never taken.

It’s much easier to walk down a well lit path. Heck, I even turn on a light to make the short journey down the hallway in my house. It’s normal and we will always strive to see more and know more–it’s in our nature. But, oftentimes when it comes to the dearest things in our life, the braver choice, the choice that brings the most growth and the greatest joy involves walking down a dimly lit path.

Follow this LINK for more information about Kimly’s Trade 🙂

Community · Kimly's Trade · Uncategorized

My Favorite Shoes I Barely Wore

wordsWhen I was fourteen-years-old I joined my High School’s Track Team. Impressing my classmates with my agile Kenyan-like abilities, I won the team’s MVP award and garnished the nickname “Jackrabbit Jackie” for my hare-footed speed. Okay, well maybe that’s not altogether accurate. What actually happened might have fewer accolades.

During the spring semester of my freshman year, the extra curricular activity “Drill Team” was no longer considered a viable class in meeting my High School’s Physical Education requirements. In order for my fellow flag twirlers and me to meet our needed PE requirements, we either had to enroll in a traditional PE class, or we had to “go out” for Track and Field. After a conversation with Coach Monroe, a grandfatherly man whose gentle nature sits firm and soft on the bleachers of my memory, I decided to join the Track Team.

Coach Monroe needed runners to participate in a multitude of events, and he confidently suggested two in which he felt I would excel. The first was the 800 meter run. 800 meters is two laps around the track. TWO LAPS…without stopping. I’m sorry, but that’s a long way to run without an axe murderer chasing you.

The second event in which he convinced the team’s novice runner to participate was the Hurdles. Wikipedia describes hurdling this way,

The act of running and jumping over an obstacle at speed. A series of barriers known as hurdles are set at precisely measured heights and distance in which each athlete must pass by running over. Accidental knocking over of hurdles is not cause for disqualification, but is disadvantageous.

On one afternoon, Coach Monroe, who undoubtedly received his Masters Degree in Manipulation, managed to convince this newcomer that she should run in one event demanding endurance and a second event requiring agility in speedily skipping over obstacles which are strategically placed to knock her on her bum.

Two things stand out about my time on LMHS Matador’s Track and Field Team. The first is that I successfully DID compete in both of those events at two separate meets. Twice, Coach Monroe was able to convince me that I  could successfully navigate the obstacles strategically placed to trip me up. Even though I never placed in hurdles and the 800 meter run only garnished me a 4th place ribbon (out of four runners), I still did it.

The second thing that stands out is a treasured nostalgic heirloom I can still visualize to this day. The monument exists in the form of a pair of blue satin track shoes. I can still see the homely sneakers, and while I don’t know if they were really satin, they shine that bright in my memory.

mNILShzaajnE94KYj5bW4KwAs a teenager, the shoes were not my favorite–remember, I only wore them twice. The metal cleats sparkle in my memory not because of the way they gripped the ground seeing me safely over each hurdle, but because of the indelible message my father sent me upon their purchase.

A father who worked long days in construction, arrived home where his daughter, who was not blessed with athletic prowess, told him she was joining the track team. He looked down at her VANS deck shoes and said, “Get in the truck, you’re gonna need shoes.”

We climbed into my Dad’s sky blue pick-up truck and he drove us to the nearby Big 5 Sporting Goods Store. I can still see my father’s checkbook as his calloused hand signed the note paying nearly fifty dollars for the funky footwear. Fifty dollars may not seem like a lot of money, but over thirty years ago in our middle income family with two working parents; it was an oddity for my Dad to spend that kind of cash on shoes.

This is where the heirloom explodes in my heart.

My Dad didn’t buy me track cleats because I whined and moaned about needing them, and he didn’t buy them because he had any false expectations about my running abilities. The man had raised me. He was fully aware that I was a girl who was drawn to reading, performing, and creating far more often than exerting myself athletically. Unlike Coach Monroe, my father probably had a pretty good idea that I would eventually find my place on the track team, not running in an event, but running the announcer’s booth with a microphone in hand and my voice echoing through the stadium.

I’ve wondered at times if I would even remember my brief inclusion to the track team were it not for the physical manifestation of my father’s confidence. For all I know or imagine, the 4th place ribbon and the spiky slippers sit somewhere in a landfill, and it’s the memory of my father’s belief that has become the treasured heirloom.

This week I was reminded of that parental belief when my Indiegogo fundraising campaign to pay for the editing and publishing of my first fictional manuscript received a hearty donation. Upon notification, I learned the donation was made by my parents.

Writing has brought so many good things into my life, and this is among them. Years from now, will the a published book shine brighter than the heirloom’s of encouragement I’ve already received?

When you drive someone to Big 5 and  buy them a pair of cleats, the runner’s belief in their ability to run well is re-energized.  When faithful friends or far off strangers are willing to invest in your dreams because they see your potential, what happens at the finish line becomes more likely, but less consequential. It’s a race worth running no matter the outcome. Even last place becomes a victory for all.  Time and again, the spark of creativity has been rekindled for those who strive to create by the mere knowledge that someone believes in their ability to navigate the hurdles and endure to the end.

For more information about the fictional book I wrote and how to be a part of Making Kimly’s Trade Happen, simply click on this LINK.

Kimly's Trade

Don’t Believe Me; Just Watch

e4893f2c9316df7e33677cf4a90b3ae7I have lived with a nagging, disgruntled voice in my head for an indeterminate amount of time. Late at night, she sneaks into my room, crawls into my bed, and whispers words like, “more” “different” and “better”. Sometimes I don’t recognize her when she comes calling until I’ve listened too long. She’s a persistent dame. Beautiful, and forever young, she shops at high end stores, and lives in a house I’ll never occupy. I use scripture to silence her and I ask for help when I am overwrought. Oftentimes, my husband will spot her before I do. He’s not fond of her, at all, and does his best to keep her silent.

The battle for significance and the acceptance of one’s self is an age old war. It’s an inner battle, and for many people it takes decades to be able to stop internal lies from paralyzing us from moving forward.

You would think my inner critic would be proud of me today. Why today? Well, today I have been “interviewing” editors to work on my fictional manuscript, Kimly’s Trade. Several years ago, a friend read through Kimly’s Trade and helped me with basic grammar errors, and I was grateful for what she brought to the project. A lot has happened since then, (understatement) and through everything that had happened, my writing improved, and when I returned to the project I knew it could be better.

This month, I am hiring a professional editor who has experience in fiction, specifically one who has worked with characterization, plot, pacing, and voice. I am looking through the resumes I’ve received from my advertisement on Outsource.com and I am struck that I have such an assortment of talented individuals to choose from.

My inner critic could have taken the day off, maybe used the time to go to the gym or get a pedicure. I mean, there’s no room for judgement on a day like today, right?

Of the twenty+ applicants, some have submitted work for me to evaluate. Looking at what they have offered, I have been tempted to devalue my own manuscript. In awe of what I was reading, a paralyzing insecurity began to come over me. I suddenly saw myself differently, suddenly saw myself as being inadequate. I heard the shrill voice I recognize, and it whispered, “Oh Jackie, this world of literary people is a land of  incredible talent, and you aren’t a real writer. You are a waitress.”

The liar never leaves. She’s bound to look for me, bound to chase. And, eventually, she’s bound to find me.

As much as I want to, I can’t shut her out completely, because some of her words have an element of truth to them, but she is a distorter of truth: “You haven’t received a contribution to the publishing campaign in over week.”(TRUTH) “You are never going to have enough money to pull this off.”(LIE)

But, shutting her out completely is not the important thing, anyway. It doesn’t matter if her whispers wake me every single morning at 3:22. What matters is what I do after I hear her whisper. What matters is what I do at 3:23. She isn’t the only voice living within, after all. There is another voice, the voice of Truth, and that voice tells me to keep moving forward. If my inner critic doesn’t believe it can happen, then she will be the one who misses the adventure, not me. With or without my inner critic, I will reach my goals. She doesn’t have to believe it, she can sit back in all her disbelief and watch it unfold anyway.

She may have whispers for me, but I’ve got words for her, too. Don’t believe me? Just watch. (Cue, Bruno Mars)

For more information on being a part of Making Kimly’s Trade Happen, visit our Indigogo fundraising page at the following link: Kimly’s Trade, A debut novel by Jackie Sill

spiritual growth · Uncategorized

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

A friend of mine gave me a great suggestion when we relocated to another state and would no longer live near our toddler granddaughter. She suggested I get a children’s book and read that same book to my granddaughter via FaceTime or Skype whenever I had the chance.

My friend was spot on in her suggestion, and from the first time I read the book, Grandma and Me my granddaughter was a captivated audience. Whenever we would visit her, I would surprise her by pulling the flap book out of my suitcase and reading it to her LIVE.

imagesRecently, I tried a new book and introduced her to the “If You Give” series. There are many to choose from: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Pig a Pancake and several others, as well. The original book in the series, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie describes the potential trials readers will face if they give a mouse a chocolate chip cookie. It was the literary success of this rodent’s post-cookie adventure that led to sequels and spawned the franchise.

The story starts off fairly harmless, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk to go with it. When you give him a glass of milk, he’s going to ask for a straw…” Through the progression of events, the cookie-giver ends up following the discontent mouse throughout the house meeting his needs until they end up back where they started. The few times I read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to my granddaughter via FaceTime she was captivated. I was Moses and she was an Israelite watching me part the Red Sea.

Three days ago my husband and I made a spontaneous trip across the state line to visit our children and spend time with our granddaughter, which means I have spent the last three days reading the same book over and over.

IMG_9492-2From sunrise snuggles to bedtime, the toddler who holds my heart repeated, “Mouse. Cookie.” She had no problem communicating her intentions. She wanted to read and reread and learn what happens if you give a mouse a cookie. This morning, when packing to leave her home and head back to my own, I knew I couldn’t take the mouse-cookie book with me.  Her fascination with the story was too intense to disrupt. Now, as I am riding shotgun with the man who leads me well, I am struggling in a big way.

My heart breaks when we leave California. Every. Single. Time. 

The pain of leaving my children and my granddaughter is made worse by lingering guilt. As we drove onto the onramp, my inner  thoughts condemned me saying, “This is your own fault. You are being punished for what you did. You reap what you sew.”

It was paralyzing for the first hour of the drive, and I found myself wishing we hadn’t made the trip at all. I found myself wishing I didn’t have short reminders of what I no longer have everyday–or even once a week!

Visiting my granddaughter for three days: eating, hiking, bathing, and reading the mouse-cookie book LIVE was no longer good enough. I became a discontent rodent.

“If you give me three days with my granddaughter, I’m going to want a week. If you give me a week, I’m going to want to move back to California. If you move me back to California, I’m going to want…”

IMG_9427-0I have never posted a blog from a car as it traveled eighty-one MPH through the desert, but once I recognized the lies in my head and the seriousness of the battle I am fighting, I knew I needed some reinforcement.

Contentment with cookies and granddaughters and matters of the heart is serious business. I am not alone in my struggle. A lack of contentment is the root of an inconceivable amount of problems and sin in our world today. 

So, what’s a mouse to do?

When I finally found my voice and shared my internal struggle with my husband, he asked, “What are you wanting to happen?”

“I want these feelings to go away. I want to be content. But I’m not,” I answered him while looking straight ahead.

And then he reminded me, “I know your not. I’m not either. But you can’t make your feelings go away. They have to be replaced with something.”

And there it is. 

Unpleasant feelings of discontent always lead us to replace them with something. Terrible regrets are equally demanding. Remorse begs to be replaced with something far more satisfying. The question always comes back to what we choose to replace them with.  Emptiness, disappointment and brokenness owned can actually lead to freedom if we recognize those emotions and deal with them.

However, dealing with them looks different for everyone. For me, rather than spending the next few hours in a car, wishing it was speeding towards California, I allow myself to feel sad while simultaneously asking God to use this time–this travel time–for His glory.

I cannot change our situation, but I can change how I respond to the situation. If I pout and promise to be happy once the situation changes, my mouse-like behavior will form frustrating habits.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬

Our reliance on scripture is not merely prophetical. God’s plans for us to prosper are not only in the future. We are living His plans in this day; We are living His plans in this moment. 

When we stop half way through our journey (and half way through this blog) to top off our tank with gasoline, my husband runs inside the convenience store to buy a pack of cookies.

It seems that my half written blog has had an effect on my man. I can’t help but smile, and I realize that, once again, God has ministered to me where I least expect it.

Grief · spiritual growth

Feeling Twenty-Two

FullSizeRender(15)A baby girl was born twenty-two years ago: flawed, imperfect, and desperately wanted. Her little life ended before she was two, and because a Momma never forgets, on this, her birthday, I am feeling twenty-two.

It’s twenty-two years with her, but not. It’s twenty-two years of her here, then gone.

But that’s not all it is.

It’s twenty-two years of hope, through pain.

Intense grief never leaves, not completely. It just shifts. Over and over again, the pain of losing that little girl has readjusted itself around other highs and lows, or perhaps the extremes have adjusted themselves around her. When the dark memory of the day she died makes room for another fearful situation to reside in my being, the survival of losing her speaks into that new situation. 

For example, years ago, we owned a cabinet that failed to do its job. This cabinet was holding the china dishware we had received at our wedding. When the cabinet came down, the entire set of lovely white dishes, painted with tiny blue flowers, came crashing to the floor. In horror, I tired to capture the platters and cups, while my husband used one hand to hold the cabinet and the other to shield me from being injured from the falling plates.

Among the reasons this event is seared into my memory (other than the fact that my husband’s heroic act saved me from being flattened or disfigured) is because after the last dish fell, and I plowed my face into my husband’s chest, the first thought sent to rescue me from despair sounded something like this: “Jackie, you survived losing Molly, you will survive losing these dishes.”

For twenty-two years I’ve love this little girl, and for each of those years her life has served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. I have come to believe there is no circumstance which can flatten or disfigure God’s presence in the life of those who desire Him. 

Can I let myself dream of a life where she didn’t die? Sure.

FullSizeRender(12) I can imagine a “grown-up” her: wearing a t-shirt from her college Alma mater, car keys dangling in her hand, she’s rushing out the door to see her sister and her niece.

I can picture a “young-woman” her: hiking to a waterfall with her cousin and her friends, she steals a kiss from a boy. I can envision an Instagram profile filled with duck-face selfies.

I can let myself dream of a “still-with-us” her: a story of secrets exchanged with siblings in a land with wedding pictures, game nights, and text messaging threads–and she is included.

Eventually, I wake up. She’s not here, and that’s not what happened. What happened was quick and unforgettable, like an intimate glance in a crowded room.

But this is where I have a choice. Is her birthday a reminder of the toddler that I lost, of the girl I never knew, and of the young woman who never was, or is it something more?

Each of us get to decide how to hold the memory of our own intimate unforgettable glances. Is the memory of a young life that was lost or of grief we survived merely painful? Or, is the memory of that intimate glance part of God’s plan for us to face and conquer oncoming and unknown trials? These intimate glances are severe and merciful reminders of resilience and healing, of promise on the days when we’re feeling twenty-two. 

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. -‭Psalm‬ ‭22‬:‭22‬

Kimly's Trade · spiritual growth

Ready to Quit, After Four Short Days

Have you ever noticed how as soon as we take that first step in faith, we begin to feel like we are on the wrong path? Ironically, we find ourselves wanting proof where God has called us to walk in faith.

Is it just me? Or can you relate? We can be completely confident in the thing we are supposed to do, but as soon as we hit minor hurdles, we begin to wonder if we were mistaken and entirely off base.

thSome of us begin to search for a sign or an indication that we are on the right track. If you think like me, if you find yourself wanting to please others, your first response when feeling insecure may be to look at how others are responding. Suddenly we get trapped into believing the indication of whether we are on the right or wrong path can be measured by the approval of others. Using the gauge of approval places us in constant turmoil, especially if someone we value silently withholds that all powerful nod.

Tuesday night I started a fundraising program for the fictional novel I wrote and am now rewriting and editing. Four nights later I came home from a eleven hour day at the restaurant and told my husband I shouldn’t be raising money or editing the novel. Tired from a busy day? Perhaps. But it was more than just food server exhaustion.

What had happened in four short days?

  • In four short days I saw my possible failure at this venture as being more humiliating than the shame God already helped me walk through in the past.
  • In four short days I began to take my eyes off the editing and fundraising God was calling me to do and place them on the response of others.
  • In four short days I forgot the importance of being obedient to God over pleasing anyone else.
  • In four short days I was willing to trade confidence from the Lord for “Likes” on a Link.
  • In four short days I forgot that walking by faith actually meant…WALKING. BY. FAITH.

1280x800-walkbyfaith

I have a welcome critic who will most likely call me out on posting this blog. Writing a piece about the need to stop relying on “Likes”, Comments, or Shares, while simultaneously placing it online where other people can give a nods of approval is ironic.

I gave birth to the welcome critic over 24 years ago, and on that evening I guess I invited his lifelong critique, however, at this time posting an ironic blog about faith is part what God is calling me to do as a statement of faith.

There is more at stake in what I am doing than just getting a book published. It’s a matter of doing the things God has called me to do every single time. It may be big, or it may be small–size TRULY doesn’t matter. Obedience matters.

Here’s the thing, the steps I took towards total rebellion to the Lord and the breaking of my marriage vows started off very miniscule. They were tiny little steps of disobedience long before they were outright strides. And late last night, after talking and crying with my husband about the fears I have for continuing with this project, it all came back to that. I heard myself say it before I even fully grasped it, “I can never live in disobedience to the Lord again.”  You guys, it was awful. Being in that sin wasn’t pleasurable and exciting, it was terrifying and lonely. I never want to be out of His will again. So, if taking tiny steps will keep me in His will, then tiny steps I will take.

For more information on my fictional novel, Kimly’s Trade, please visit our Indiegogo campaign by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.


 

Kimly's Trade

Because I Said So

I didn’t think I would ever say it to one of my children, but then one day it just fell out of my mouth.

“Why do I have to practice piano before I watch Sponge Bob?”

“Why can’t both of the cats and the dog sleep in my bed with me?”

“Why can’t I jump off the wall into the swimming pool?”

And there it was. “Because I said so.”

Throwing out the quick response wasn’t always done because my children couldn’t understand the possible consequences. The majority of the time I gave them a quick answer was because I didn’t want to take the time to explain the reasons they needed to obey.

Lately, I have heard God whispering those four little words to me.

Working through my devotionals, alone in my quaint little home, driving along the highway looking at the desert landscape–all of these times I have heard a holy whisper from God telling me to finish a project I started. I have told God all of the reasons why I shouldn’t finish this project and insisted we talk about something else, but he keeps bringing it back up.

When I ask him why it is so important to him that I finish THIS particular project, he simply replies, “Because I said so.”

The project is one that began several years ago as a story God had placed on my heart. Questions arose as I watched a friend live courageously while dying of cancer. I met Irene through a book club. I was invited into a group where I knew none of the other women. The ladies were reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” in which one of the characters has cancer. Irene had already been fighting her own battle and she spoke freely about the things she read in the book that were transforming some of her thoughts, as well as those things with which she disagreed. I was immediately drawn to her because not only was she one of the most passionate women I had met in a long time, but she was also one of the most honest. There was no tip-toeing around an issue with Irene. She was blunt and straight forward. In many ways, she was everything I wished I could be. I never became her, but somehow, through God’s grace, I have a daughter who is a lot like Irene.

38383_1495481222489_7299045_nWatching Irene drift away was devastating. She died in her home in July of 2012. I wouldn’t claim to have felt the pain as deeply as others. She has three children who survived her death, and a handful of very close friends. They are the ones who have had to live life without this soul to remind them of their beauty and their worth. They are the ones who have had to make decisions without her input–knowing full well that she would have had an opinion! But with Irene my closeness to her didn’t matter, because she had the ability to pull in people who barely knew her. She could make everyone feel included in the heart of whatever was happening.

When I first met her she was fierce and strong, like a lioness. Granted, she was a lioness in leopard print with a bright pink bow, but fierce none the less. In her sickness she was becoming frail and weak, like a kitten. Watching this strong, beautiful woman who was close to the same age as myself, slowly drift away was alarming, and made me question my own significance.

One day, before Irene was too weak, we had gone for a hike in Marshal Canyon. This hike is more like a walk through the trees, and Irene begged me to take her. While walking I found myself confessing some of my deepest fears about my own identity to Irene. Even though I would come away feeling selfish for talking about myself to a dying woman, she didn’t make me feel that way then, and I don’t think she would see it that way today. She listened to the fears I had about sins I was fearful I might be capable of committing, and the confusion I was dealing with in regards to my marriage.

FullSizeRender(6)It was on this hike that she encouraged me to take my questions, fears, and doubts and give them to God in the form of a book. She told me that the greatest strength I would have over these areas of weakness was to talk about them.

It was shortly after that hike that I began to write “Kimly’s Trade”. The tale of a woman who in the middle of a marital crisis travels to Thailand desperately searching for significance. One of the key verses that came to me as I told her story was Matthew 16:25. I began to realize that the question I was trying to answer could be found in that verse.

Then I set it aside.

Even though God had called me to write it and take it to completion, I didn’t. Perhaps it was pride, perhaps it was fear–maybe it was just plain laziness. Whatever the reasons were, or the mixture of reasons, I put aside the story I had written, and I didn’t finish what God had told me to do.

So many things happened after that.

I turned my back on writing. I turned my back on transparency.

IMG_9004Now, here we are several years later and hundreds of miles away from that hiking trail, and God has called me to finish what I started when I first penned Kimly’s Trade. Through the last year and a half of blogging and reading God has allowed me to see areas where my writing can be improved, He has given me new insight to old struggles, and he has removed a lot of the fear that once held me in restraint.

Tired of resisting God, and fully aware of how things turned out the last time I resisted Him, I returned to the keyboard, doing a lot of cringing and some major rewrites on Kimly’s Trade.

Finally, knowing this venture would require a step of faith, I submitted to him completely and started the fundraising campaign with Indiegogo to raise the money to get the manuscript in front of a professional editor and published. I did the research and put together a plan.

Ironically, the very day that I was set to start the campaign, I received some bad news that left me feeling more depleted than I had felt in a long time. My heart was sad, but I did not fail to recognize the coincidence in the timing of the bad news with the timing of taking this step. Stopping was not going to glorify God. Moving forward in obedience was all He was asking.

Even today, as I look at what is required to make Kimly’s Trade fully honoring to the Lord, I am filled with doubt. I find myself waking in the middle of the night and praying for God to help me with the rewrites and take the characters to a greater depth. Do you have any idea how strange it feels to be praying for fictional characters? Can you imagine how vulnerable a person feels when they find themselves discussing non-existent beings with the one who created every being in existence?

Without understanding why God would ask me to do something so silly, my fears set in and I ask God, “Why can’t I just blog? Why do I have to tell Kimly’s fictional story?”

And He responds, “Because I said so.”


Where do you come in? Quite simply, we can’t publish Kimly’s Trade without your help.

  • Share my blog! Share the campaign for Kimly’s Trade!
  • Use the Indiegogo share tools and share about this campaign! (Indiegogo measures this and pushes the campaign along!)
  • Pray for our marriage. Pray that we would be diligent in doing the things we have learned to remain steadfast and faithful. Pray for our continued healing and for God to be working through us and in us.
  • Pray for the writing. Pray that God will be glorified through Kimly’s Trade.
Community · Kimly's Trade

Kimly’s Trade, a Novel by Jackie Sill

 

kimlyslittlesquareAmerican journalist, Kimly Denim, thought again about the man she met crossing the street in the center of the city of Chiang Mai. Something about him had left her feeling like a fluttering teen. Was it his eyes? She closed her own and visualized his gaze. Did he really have gray eyes? It wasn’t merely his appearance. Yes, he was handsome, but he wasn’t the first handsome man she had ever encountered. There was something different about him.  She closed her dark eyes and mentally chastised herself. She remembered the reason she had made the trip to the Asian country: The News Article. Humans. Slavery. Sex Trafficking. The last diversion she needed while navigating her way through this inhumane darkness was the distraction of a man.

Soon Kimly finds herself pulled into the darkest areas of the Slave Trade, as she is pursued by the Prostitution Lord, SuSuk.  Kimly flees the large city and heads north to the border of Burma. Travel through the foreign landscapes with Kimly and be pulled into the story of the slave child Noi.

Can Kimly trust her contacts? What is happening to the children in the border town of Mae Sai? Can Kimly believe there is a God when such atrocities are happening all around her?

The Story of Jackie and Kimly

Almost four years ago I wrote an 85,000 word fictional manuscript about a woman at a crossroads in her life. I named her Kimly because I saw her as a fierce lioness with a limited view of the strength she possessed. At the time I didn’t realize how significant Kimly’s story was to my own struggles. I also didn’t see how prophetic Kimly’s journey was to my own.
Within the manuscript I also unearthed the parallel story of a young girl sold into the sex trade.  When readers are drawn into Noi’s story of slavery and abandonment they will discover a story that is stimulating and triumphant. Reading the story allows readers to travel through the streets of Thailand on a life changing adventure filled with hope.

Kimly’s Next MoveIMG_9004

It’s time to move forward and give Kimly’s Trade a life outside of the Sill home.

Let’s Be Real…it’s The Story of God

Hashtags are great, and they are a catchy way to file photos and events. But, #TheStoryofDavidandJackie means nothing, while The Story of God means everything. 

  • Kimly’s Trade is the story of God’s redemption and restoration.
  • Time and again, God has been faithful to use stories as a means to spread the message of the gospel to people who might not hear about His love.
  • It’s time for that to happen again.

We can’t publish Kimly’s Trade without your help.

  • I am asking for donations to help fund Kimly’s Trade.   Make a Donation HERE
  • Look through the PERKS on the Indiegogo site and and pick the one that works for you!
  • Share the campaign for Kimly’s Trade!
  • Use the Indiegogo share tools and share about this campaign!
  • Pray for our marriage. Pray that we would be diligent in doing the things we have learned to remain steadfast and faithful.
  • Pray for the writing. As we are revisiting Kimly and Noi, pray that God will be glorified through their stories.

PLEASE go to Indiegogo and help us reach our goal! CLICK HERE and help us reach our goal!