Speaking Topics

For Parents

How Come I Was So Nice Before I Had Kids?

Most requested topic! An exploration of the changes motherhood brings and the anger we never expected to erupt in our storybook lives. Are you the only one who feels like Mom of the Year is not quite within your reach? Or are those feelings normal? Can patterns change before it’s too late? Take the first step in knowing who we are, changing our habits, and leaning into grace in our parenting. An honest look at anger management for parents in the trenches, with real, practical help.

“MOPS table leader: What one things are you going to take home from Jill’s talk today?
MOPS mom: One thing? I have an page full! This is happening today!”

“It’s like you got into my home and my head!”

“I feel like I can be a better mom. And like I’m not the world’s worst.”

The Work of Play

Maybe you saw my article on this subject in the spring 2016 edition of Hello Dearest (The MOPS International magazine). Play is something we think we’ve grown out of. Yet in today’s world of “don’t waste time on anything that can’t go on a resume,” play is making a comeback. Why is it important? What does it do for us? How can we relearn to play ourselves, and how important is it to let our children just play? Practical ideas and latest research on going back to the wonder of play in  busy mom’s world.

Failing Successfully

Who would think that failure had anything to do with hope? Given the number of young women living with anxiety over it, finding the tools to learn to fail successfully, and teaching them to our children, seems a very sane path toward hope. Jill will teach some of the practical ideas outlined in her article on the A Fine Parent website. How can learning to fail truly release us from fears? How can teaching our children how to fail help them be happier, healthier, ultimately more successful kids?

Raising Girls–The Complex, Contradictory World of Building Christian Women

Jill has three grown daughters—she’s seen firsthand how much the world demands of girls and that those demands are complex and contradictory. The Christian world can be even more confusing. Should my little girl look more like Cinderella or Katniss? How does a daughter of the King learn to be brave and gracious at the same time? How does she listen to the One voice she needs to guide her and defy the hundreds telling her who she is supposed to be? How do we?

Unplugged

It takes bravery indeed to suggest not being available 24/7 in a plugged in world. What’s good and bad about technology and families? How do we set realistic limits? What are the alternatives? Recapture your kids (and yourself!) from an age of always ‘on’ and move toward making sane choices for your family. Regain imagination, generosity, communication—oh the possibilities!—without becoming Amish. Practical plans for starting now.

“I am taking all of this home and applying it now.”

All Stressed Up and No Place to Go

Having a hospitable home at all times, even though Martha doesn’t live there and your kids definitely do. What does it mean to be hospitable? Does it look like the cover of a magazine, or does it look like something far better? What would it does to take to redefine hospitality and repurpose your home to be truly welcoming? Especially requested during the holidays.

Families on Mission

Can toddlers serve God? Why would we make the effort, given that just getting them to church is like training for Ironman? Serving with our children, at any age, isn’t just about doing good. It’s about creating little disciples who will love God and others naturally, daily. Jill outlines reasons, benefits, and practical how-to’s for making serving with kids a priority.

Showing Kindness to the Woman in the Mirror

Sometimes the last person we are kind to is the one in the mirror. When is the last time you did something nice for you? What was the last kind thing you said to yourself? What are the ways, little and large, we can stop treating ourselves like a last resort and start believing we deserve a little kindness? And you know what? When we are kind to ourselves, we shower that starry-eyed kindness on our kids, our spouses, and our world.

For Church Groups and Retreats

Topics that can be stand alone presentations or 3-4 part retreat series.

I’ve Got a Gun in My Garage, a Sword in My Car, and a Body in My Freezer–Life Lessons from Community Theater

Life is full of improvising, creating something out of nothing, getting out there ready or not, and helping others take the lead. A humorous look at what I have learned through ten years leading community theater and how it relates to building the kingdom of God. It takes a brave leader to embrace the unexpected and turn it into ministry gold. This topic has been used specifically to teach about ministry adaptability in changing times.

“Jill’s many years of experience in ministry, drama, and writing give her a unique blend of gifts that is a blessing to both the church and the community. Her creativity and artistry are rare qualities, and her voice is one that needs to be heard.” –Erick Ewaskowitz, Church Planting Director, Free Methodist North Central Conference, Lead pastor, Resolution Church

Surrender Isn’t for Sissies

Why is surrender a bad word in our society? How does that make it difficult for us to surrender everything to God? What does a surrendered life look like? While American culture tells us waving the white flag is for cowards, personal surrender to God’s desires is really the ultimate act of courage and rebellion. It makes us more peaceful, grace-filled, honest, and ready to take on anything.

Saying Yes to Good Enough

Are you exhausted by living amid the cult of excellence? Convinced that anything less than 110% is a failure? Scared that making mistakes means you are a failure? Or do you have the subversive suspicion that, sometimes, good enough really is good enough? Being brave means stepping away from the crazy cycle of perfection and living in the grace of messy reality. Learn to stop living in the prisons of comparison, condemnation, and control. Follow me with steps to making a prison break to recapture joyful life.

“Loved the honesty. I feel like I can really face my issues because you did.”

Hobbits, Dragons, and Your Own Epic Kingdom Story

Based on Jill’s book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-earth. What makes epic stories epic? What are people looking for when they pick up an epic story, and how can we channel those longings into Kingdom purposes? How can we learn from the stories others tell how to make our own lives they story they were meant to be? Suitable for youth group and young adult events.

Identity Theft

Do you know who you are? Really? There are so many conflicting voices telling us who we are and who we are supposed to be. But only one voice wants to give us a life of promise and an identity that is secure beyond all fears and lies. So much that is broken in our lives can be healed by knowing who we are and who we were born to be. So much can be clear when we realize we are seen, known, and chosen for a purpose. And when we know who we are, it’s a brave and beautiful step toward helping others discover it for themselves. Do you dare to live the story He has for you? This talk can be crafted into a women’s Christmas event featuring the women in Jesus’ genealogy.

“Jill is a well-traveled and published author with a relevant message. She will delight the listeners, and they will leave with a broader knowledge of who they are as well as having enjoyed her fellowship,” Diana Flegel, Hartline Literacy Agengy

Discussion Format Topics

If you are holding a panel-type discussion in your church on a topic, consider Jill on issues dealing with: women in the church, missions and families, discipleship with Millennials, and Thoughtful Christianity.

Writing

Writing Bravely–What’s Keeping You from Reaching Your Goals?

What’s the biggest handicap hindering your writing goals? Writer’s block? Marketing skills? Craft? Getting the contract? You really want to know? It’s–fear. Fear of failure, inadequacy, and yes, even success. Jill knows fear pretty well. She blogs about it incessantly. In this workshop, participants work through the fears that are keeping them from reaching for their goals and find practical steps for conquering them. If you’re looking for a workshop that will send you out with the peace and happiness unicorns, this is probably not your room. But if you want real tools and a kick toward where you want to be, come on in. Don’t be afraid.

Your Worst Nightmare—Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Grammar and Style

Have editors told you you need to eliminate the passive voice? Show not tell? Cut your dearly beloved adjectives and adverbs? Here’s why—and how. Polishing your manuscript to free it from errors and awkward style issues not only gets you a second look, but in this competitive market, it’s not even negotiable. Jill will address using descriptive language, finding strong words to mean what you say, grammar rules you never knew, and more. The session is interactive with practice doing what you’re learning. Tackling all your confusion about commas, passion about punctuation, and terror of tense, Jill brings her experience as a teacher, a copyeditor for Tyndale House, and a freelance editor to your grammar and style questions.

Millennials, Mosaics, Whatever—Reaching the Next Generation through Writing

If you’re passionate about reaching the next generation of Christians (or not yet Christians), you need to know what they’re thinking, valuing, and dreaming. This workshop covers: Styles that best suit a Millennial audience–how do we tailor our way of speaking to meet their perception? Topics that attract—what valuable issues do Millennials see that we must tackle, and how? Spiritual and emotional needs of Millennials—what is at the heart of their apparent disconnection with Christianity, and how can we speak to those needs? Jill brings her experience as a Discipleship pastor, teacher, and leader of college/career discipleship as well as a writer to this discussion of the post-Christian generation and what they want to read.

Making It Memorable—Creative Nonfiction and Writing Stories that Change Us

It’s all about writing story these days. Not stories—story. That is, writing your nonfiction as a storyteller, not a preacher. This shouldn’t surprise us, because Jesus always communicated that way. Theology, history, and psychology all tell us people are changed by story, but too often, we write to tell people how to change rather than show them changed lives. How do we take the information we want to convey and create an engaging, creative true narrative of life touched by God? How can we write something an editor and a reader will remember long after they’ve forgotten your three alliterative main points? We’ll cover creative nonfiction basics and work on fun in-class exercises to practice it all.

Making Disciples through Writing

Pastors across America agree that the number one problem facing the church is lack of real discipleship. People may line the aisles of giant churches, but they have little idea what they believe. And when they return home, their behavior resembles their culture, not their Lord. Christian writers can speak into these lives in ways others can’t. What are the key issues we need to be talking about in order to make disciples? Where are we failing, and where can writers jump in to address this failure? We’ll cover the topics that most need addressing, how to hold the audience, and how to write differently for Christian and secular publication. If we’re serious about Jesus’ Commission (go and make disciples), we need to be serious about using our gifts as writers and speakers to do just that.

For Schools

Hobbits, Dragons, and Your Own Epic Kingdom Story

Based on Jill’s book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-earth. What makes epic stories epic? What are people looking for when they pick up an epic story, and how can we channel those longings into real life purposes? How can we learn from the stories others tell how to make our own lives they story they were meant to be?

So You Think You Can Write

Of course you can. Anyone can make his or her writing more interesting, fun, and, maybe, even publishable. What does it take to bring your creations from boooring to A+? A hands-on look at some basic tools of good writing that anyone, age 10-110, can use to get to the head of the class.

Writing with the Stars

How does a person go from writing down her thoughts in a journal or on a computer to seeing her name on the cover of a book? (Or in the credits for an e-book?) Jill’s journey from procrastination to publication and the nuts and bolts of how you might take that journey as well.

Your Worst Nightmare—Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Grammar and Style

Have teachers told you you need to eliminate the passive voice? Show not tell? Cut your dearly beloved adjectives and adverbs? Here’s why—and how. Using descriptive language, finding strong words to mean what you say, grammar rules you never knew, and more. The session is interactive with practice doing what you’re learning. Tackling all your confusion about commas, passion about punctuation, and terror of tense, Jill brings her experience as a teacher, a copyeditor for Tyndale House, and a freelance editor to your questions.

Fantasy and Theology—Finding the Reason Behind Story

What is the purpose of fantasy and how can we use it to promote positive aspects of life? Is it purely escapism, or does fantasy serve a purpose that other writing can’t? How does this type of fiction affect culture, and does it matter?

Tolkien, Heroes, and Hope

How the ideas of JRR Tolkien, especially regarding heroes and hope, can change people today and give us a positive cultural impact.

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