Jun 22, 2016

Pray for him...

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1

Can I just get straight to the point?

We need to be praying for our husbands.

I know, I know. You do pray, right?

But, are you fervently lifting them up throughout the day? Yeah, me either.

I tell you why this is hard for us sometimes.

Praying for our husbands does not come natural. It is not something hard wired into our hearts and minds.

Praying for our kids? Easy. It is instinct almost to pray over our children. They belong to us. They are ours. They need our prayers.

But, so do our men.

More so than ever.

The battle is real, y'all.

Evil lurks in broad daylight not just shifting shadows.

Our men are the leaders of our families.

Some of you may be shaking your head saying, "No, not my man. He doesn't lead worth a flip."

Sweet friend, are you praying diligently for him to lead?

Let me tell you a story.

I use to pray for my husband like this: "God, please change Lem! Make him nicer, kinder, and more thoughtful. Help him to love me more! Help him to be a good man and want to pray and study your word."

For years and years (and years) I prayed those words.

Until one day, the Lord revealed to my heart that the prayer I was praying was selfish.

Yep.

All those things I wanted to change were really about what I wanted and how it would make MY life better.

Instead of praying for all the things I wanted to change about him, I began praying words of scripture and affirmation over him.

For example, instead of "Lord make my husband nice!" I began to pray, "Give Lem a heart like David's."

Instead of praying, "Lord, make my husband want to pray with me and study the word with me!" I began to pray, "Lord, give Lem the faith of Daniel and the wisdom of Solomon."

My prayers began to affirm Lem instead of tearing him down.

I could list all the things I wanted to change about him...or I could pray the change straight into his heart.

As wives, we have so much power in prayer over our men! We do not even realize the power we have.

Did you know that God sees you and your husband as one?

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:7-8

So, guess what? When we pray over them and into their lives, we are actually praying the same into our lives!

I used to spend so much time listing things out to God that I wanted him to change about myself. Then, I realized that if I am praying these traits into my husband, my children, and other people, then I am receiving the same blessing that I am praying.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

Did you catch that? Pray for one another, that YOU may be healed.

Does this change everything, or what?

God sees a heart that prays for others and blesses it. This is just how He works.

When we care about each other enough to lift each other up before our needs, God takes care of all of our needs as well.

The answers to our prayers over our husbands may very well lie in the diligence of our prayers over him. Do we half heartedly want change? NO. Then, why would we half heartedly pray?

Do you want to see BIG miracle changes? Do you want to see something greater than you could even fathom for your husband and your marriage?

Then, we MUST pray BIG.

We must pray fervently.

We must pray diligently.

Prayer is a like a muscle. The more it is used the stronger it gets.

Who wants weak muscles?

Pray, pray and keep praying for your man.

Pour scriptures into your prayers and pray them over your husband.

Most importantly, do not ever give up.

When you don't see immediate answers, KEEP praying. In fact, the enemy will probably not like hearing your prayers over your man. He may try to whisper words of defeat into your precious ears. When you hear those lies, Rebuke him and tell him to flee! The enemy has NO ground in your marriage.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

No matter the state of your marriage, God is able to revive, reconcile, renew, and restore it.

Take this challenge with me today:

 Pray over your man 3 times a day for the next month. So, until July 22nd. Put reminders on your phone. Tape them to your mirror. Whatever will help you to remember.

Before you do anything, pray over him. Grow your prayer muscle strong for the next 30 days.

After the 30 days, look back at the past month and see what God has begun. Maybe it will just be small, very small changes. Oh, but take heart. A big, big thing is happening in the spiritual realm. Your husband will be changing.

And, so will you.


praying for my man,

jill







Jun 21, 2016

I hope so...

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

A few minutes ago I was mopping my floors. I could not wait to sit down and get these words out. Why is it that God speaks so clearly when I am mopping? Who knows. I need to mop more I suppose.

The word Hope has been on my heart for a few weeks now. It is a word that God has used many, many times to get me through some difficult and frustrating times.

Hope sustains me when I feel like I cannot utter one more pray about a certain situation. I feel the weariness, and even bitterness start to take root when I don't see the answers to my prayers.

I feel a silent pull away from Him. An eery coldness starts to encase my heart. Doubts flood in like an April rainshower across my bleak and hopeless heart.

I hate this feeling. I beg God to take these thoughts and these feelings away.

I grab my prayer journal and skim through the past year of pages. I see the slow decline of hope in the words that I penned to Him. I see the pleas. I see the desperation. I see it so clearly.

I grab journals from previous years. I see the same prayers. The same pleas. The same dripping of words.

Then, I hear the words like a honeycomb releasing its sweet treasure into my spirit..."Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

The words echo in my ears.

Do not become weary, Jill.

Do not give up.

Then I hear the words, "We have this Hope as an anchor for our souls.." Hebrews 6:19

Slowly it starts to unravel.

This ache in my heart, this void in my soul...this longing for something that only God can provide...

Is anchored in Hope.

Hope keeps these bitter feelings, these doubtful thoughts, these restless wanderings...

Anchored.

Anchored to Him.

Without Hope I am lost. I am flailing in a hopeless world with nothing securing me down.

Hope is what separates me from the world. Hope is what little children have.

And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

Hope is the assurance of what I cannot see.

Let me repeat, HOPE is the ASSURANCE of what we CANNOT SEE.

As I was mopping, God reminded me of when I was pregnant with my first born. I had NO idea I was pregnant. My body was carrying a baby for a few weeks before I had any inclination that I was with child. Then, my body took 9 very long months to produce this child. I could not see what was happening inside. The ultrasound showed a bit, but I could not see the whole picture. I just could eventually 6 months later see my belly begin to expand.

Change was taking place none the less. Just because I could not see what was taking place, doesn't mean it wasn't taking place.

Many times a whole lot is going on in the spiritual world on our behalf due to our prayers. But, we cannot always see it. Most of the time, we do not see it.

It does not mean it is not happening. On the contrary, a big, big story is unfolding. Bigger than we could ever imagine.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Our petitions, our prayers, our pleas are being delivered to the throne of the Most High God.

He hears them.

Not only does He hear them, He is working on our behalf. Diligently.

We must not lose Hope.

What if Moses would have lost hope when God didn't bring them swiftly into the land they were promised? (let me remind you that it took 40 LONG years)

What is Sarah and Abraham would have lost hope?

What if David would have lost hope after he sinned with Bathsheba?

What if Esther would have lost hope and never approached the King to free her people from the hands of a murderer?

What if Ruth would have lost hope after her husband died and buried her head in sorrow instead of taking the next step of obedience with her mother in law?

I see a pattern here. Do you see it?

They persevered in Hope.

Despite what their circumstances were showing...

Despite what the world was telling them...

Despite what their feelings were telling them...

They Hoped.

It takes a whole heck of a lot of obedience to choose Hope.

It is a daily choice.

Either we choose Hope, or we don't.

The consequences of losing hope are grave.

They will never lead us to the fruit God has so faithfully promised us.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. —  Romans 5:2-5

Friends, we can never go wrong with Hope. If we take our dying breath with a heart of hope, it will have all been worth it. Our hope will be rewarded.

Hope brings joy.

Hope brings healing.

Hope stirs our faith.

Hope lights the way in the darkness.

Hope anchors us to Him.

If you are like me and you need a constant-in- your -face reassurance, I have some scriptures for you. Write them down. Speak them every single live long day. Inscribe them on your hearts. Go to sleep whispering them back to the Father.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7


re-finding my hope,


jill
 









Jun 16, 2016

A letter to You...

Dear Father,

Perhaps there is no one that knows me quite like you do. You created my inmost being, and knit me right together in my mother's womb. You knew exactly what I would look like. How my hair would change 3 different colors before settling on the color it is now. Whatever that is. Bleach and color hide the work of Your Hands these days.

Father, you saw me as a toddler, lying in my crib. When I was scared you were there. When my parents were asleep, you never slept. Your eyes were always on me. Watching me. Singing over me. Whispering Your love into my baby ears.

The time I fell and almost sliced my eyelid right off, You were there. As the doctors put those stitches into my big black eye in awe of how I didn't shed a tear...You were with me. I felt You even then. You are the reason that I didn't flinch. You went before me, and took the pain.

The nights when I was a little girl, lying in a big dark bedroom, my eyes playing tricks on me and seeing images of scary things on my walls, You were with me. You held me. You sung to me. Not a night went by that I didn't wake up in peace. Despite the night terrors, despite the fearful thoughts, joy always came in the morning. And, it still does. The morning brings me Word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.

When my face and my body were going through some weird changes...and I didn't want to look at myself in the mirror. When I would press my finger tips deep down into my cheeks to try and make dimples. Because, the popular girl at school had them. Surely, if my face looked different, I would like myself more. Others would surely like me too.

You liked me. Just the way I was. I would hear Your Voice deep down in my soul telling me "You are beautiful."

I didn't believe You.

I thought you must have made a big mistake when you molded me in that womb. I thought there is no possible way that You could think I was beautiful.

But, You continued to tell me that I was.

When the first boy broke my heart right into a million pieces...You whispered softly into my brokenness..

"I have so much more for you. Just wait."

I didn't believe You.

When the second boy broke my heart into a million more pieces, I heard You speak again...

"I have so much more for you. Just wait."

I didn't believe You.

I pulled away from You. Surely, if a boy couldn't love me, how in the world could You?

But, I could never get away from Your Spirit. I could never escape Your Presence.

You were always there.

There was nowhere I could hide...nowhere I could flee your Presence.

Every time...You picked up those broken pieces. The mess of emotions. The insecurity that nearly strangled the life out of every relationship I ever had. You were there as I made bad decisions out of my brokenness. You didn't judge me, or condemn me.

You just waited.

And waited.

You never left.

You told me I was the apple of your eye. You told me that I was precious to You and that my name was written on the palm of Your Hand.

I didn't believe You.

Then, one day, I opened Your Word. And, I couldn't stop reading.

My eyes spilled right over into a thousand tears.

My mouth wide open as I inhaled the words you penned to me.

Those promises. Those words. Those assurances.

They were all true.

It wasn't just my mind playing tricks on me.

You had spoken Your Words to me over the span of my lifetime. Before I even knew it was You...it was You.

Even in the darkness I could not hide. Darkness and light are the same to you. Night shines as bright as day.

Father, I believe You.

You were right...

You did have better plans for me. So much better than I could have ever imagined.

Even through heartbreak, You bring good.

Even through the tears, You bring Joy.

Even through the changes, You never changed.

You never left me.

You will never leave me.

Happy Father's Day.

I am so sorry it took me so long....


your daughter,


jill





Jun 15, 2016

Are you prepared?

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,  Matthew 6:11

A few weeks ago, I pulled a friend aside to tell her that she had been on my heart so much. Her child was about to graduate high school (the last one in the nest), and I could only imagine the emotions she was going through.

Through a few tears, she told me that God had sweetly prepared her for this season, although some days were harder than others.

This gave me so much hope.

I knew exactly what she was talking about.

God does prepare us for the next season. Often we don't realize it because we don't stop long enough to reflect and listen to what He has been saying to us.

Last Summer, the Summer before my oldest was going into high school, I chose to be intentional. More so than ever.

I knew it would not always be like this with him. I knew the day would come when he would have a Summer job, hang out with friends a lot more, and just be a little less drawn to hanging out with his momma.

I had planned to do more writing last Summer. I had planned to do a lot of things actually. But, something in my spirit was telling me not to. The Holy Spirit was urging me to stop, be still, and enjoy this time with my son.

This time, I listened. (this hasn't always been the case)

I put it all on hold and chose to be intentional about my days that Summer. I took the time to soak it all in. To soak him in. To soak up the fun times, and the mundane times.

The ordinary is so often the extraordinary in life, isn't it? One of the greatest moments of my children as babies was feeding them. At the time, I don't think I realized what a treasure it was to have their big blue eyes looking up at me as they were nourished.

However, those moments are the ones that stand out on the highlight reel. Not the big, extravagant birthday parties. It is the quiet moments, the ordinary, and the mundane moments that stick out the most.

This Summer is different. My boy has a part time job with his dad. The two days he works, I literally pray for God to give me joy. It is weird not having him here on those days.

God prepared my heart though.

He is equipping me day after day to be prepared for the next season.

So, when life seems hard, harder than usual, or more ordinary than usual...

Stop, be still, and be quiet.

Let the moments soak in. Instead of being anxious about what tomorrow brings, let God do the work in your heart today to prepare you for tomorrow.

Be intentional about your assignment this day. Maybe it seems ordinary, but more than likely you will look back and smile. And maybe, if you are like me, shed a couple of tears. (or a hundred)

We were made for eternity. We cannot get stuck in the past or the future. We must only be concerned with today.

He promises us "our daily bread". This is all we need.




soaking up this day,

jill


Jun 13, 2016

Awaken....

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This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:14-16

Last week, in the middle of the night, I woke up in a pool of sweat. I was startled by a voice in my dreams that stated simply, "Awaken". It wasn't a loud voice, but it was a voice that got my attention. A voice that begged me to come closer to hear more.

The dream got my attention because the night before I had a similar dream with the same word, "Awaken." This particular dream involved a pack of wolves living under my house that I thought were dead. However, they weren't. The voice said, "Awaken".

The very next day I texted a trusted friend and told her about these dreams. I asked her to pray with me what these meant. Was the Lord trying to show me something?

In the last 48 hours the world has stood still by the attacks in Orlando, Florida. I have watched the news so much that I can tell you the first and last names of every news anchor on Fox and CNN.

My heart is broken over this tragedy.

Yet, I hear this same voice telling me to "Awaken" in the midst of it.

I am tired of burying my head in the sand. I a tired of pretending like evil doesn't exist near me because we live in a small town, go to church and read the Bible. I am tired of acting like all is well in this world. I am tired of being numb to the fact that innocent lives are being killed, brainwashed, controlled, and manipulated by EVIL.

I am tired of turning off the news and shutting out the world when I see things that make me fearful or uncomfortable.

Awaken. 

Our children need to know about evil. That it is real. It exists. And it will not go away until Jesus returns.

We must not only teach them about love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy....

But also about the reality of evil in this world. They are up against an enemy that wants to destroy them and cut them to pieces. They must be armed and ready and awake to face an enemy that is prowling around them ready to pounce.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Are we as open with talking about the reality of evil as we are about the goodness and faithfulness of God?

We must absolutely teach God's Love and Faithfulness. We must also teach the entirety of His Word. Not just the parts that taste sweet going down.

The closer we get to Christ's return, the more rampant the enemy will become

Our eyes must be open. Our weapons, God's Word and Prayer, must be ever-ready for battle.

If we don't train our children for battle, they will be fighting without weapons.

We must awaken. 

We cannot fight the enemy with our eyes closed. 

Can I share some hope with you now? In spite of all the suffering. In spite of all the evil and the hatred...we have this hope...

But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! James 5:7-9

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-8

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

And lay your weary little head on this verse tonight as you go to sleep...

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. ..Psalm 23:1-6


no more slumber,

jill





















Jun 7, 2016

Train up that child....

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Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. 
Proverbs 22:6

As my children get older, I am realizing that it is getting harder and harder to sit them down and stimulate their brains.

Why in the world would they want their momma to stimulate their minds when the world is screaming for their attention?

However, just because my children are not chomping at the bit to sit down and learn something, that doesn't mean I am off the hook.

Parenting is a calling. It is a life long calling. It doesn't end when our children seem to stop listening. In fact, during these times it is probably the most paramount.

Many days I get frustrated. I want to just throw up my tired hands and just give up! What is the point? NO ONE is listening. NO ONE cares. Why am I wasting my breath?

Oh but little Momma's, don't give up. Don't give out.

Persist. Persist more. And wake up tomorrow and persist again.

Somehow we have believed the mindset that when our children become tweens and teens that we should let them do the rest on their own. It's too much work anyway. Too exhausting to talk, to teach, and to continue to mold and train. That's what church groups and sunday schools and youth events are for anyway.

NO.

Do not give up. 

YOU are their greatest teacher.

They are watching. They may not seem to be listening, but they are. They are listening with their eyes sweet Momma's.

They are soaking in a whole lot of teaching day in and day out.

It's a high calling this motherhood thing. We have a lot at stake.

It seems more than an under-educated, under-appreciated, worn-out little Momma can take.

But, take heart.

You are equipped. Because He equipped you. 

And He continues to equip you. Day in and day out.

Do not give up.

When they roll their eyes, walk out of the room, or whisper sarcasm under their breath...Take their stubborn little faces in your hands, look them in their haughty little eyes, and tell them you will not give up. Because you love them too much. 

God did not give up on us. Why should we give up on our children?

Giving a child the freedom to choose whether or not they want to pray, or go to church, or learn about the Word...is dangerous.

We are commanded to "train them". They are not to train themselves until they are out of our nests. They will have plenty of time for "freedom" when they are gone.

I am not talking about using religion as a weapon either. Or using it as punishment because they "disappointed God". This is dangerous as well.

We serve a loving Father. They should see the same love expressed in us by our words and actions.

Their faith will more than likely be from the result of being "caught" and not "taught". When they have a momma that doesn't just teach them, but lives a life of Christ-like behavior, they will surely be effected.

This requires obedience on our part. We must push through. Persist. And be ever intentional about training our children. Whether they are 6 months or 60. They are still learning. Watching. Listening.

Our children will not be properly trained if they are just sitting in church for an hour a week. Church programs are the icing, not the cake.

Teach them. Train them. Show them. 

You don't have to be a bible scholar to teach your children. You just have to be obedient.

Pray for wisdom. Daily. Hourly.

He has equipped you. 

Go, train them up well.

Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 7:2-4


i have so much work to do,


jill



Jun 5, 2016

Marriage and the Big O...

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"admonish the young women to love their husbands" Titus 2:4

Last week my daughter casually said to me. "Why do you make everything look so "magical" when you post pictures on Instagram, Mom?'

Gulp.

I thought before I answered her back.

"Because a lot of the time, this is the way I see things, Presley. I could focus on the negative and the awful, but I have to make a choice to focus on the GOOD. The magical."

Then, I shared this verse with her:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Many days in life are not so magical. In fact, they are downright ugly.

This, my friends, is where obedience comes in. Summer of Obedience, remember?

Through obedience we focus on the good.

Through obedience we focus on the lovely and admirable.

Through obedience we make a choice to change our mindset.

Life is not always magical. But life with a changed mindset, focused on Jesus, will be more magical than your little heart can handle.

This has nothing to do with our circumstances. Our circumstances can scream chaos, loneliness, betrayal, poverty, tragedy...

But, it is how we choose to process these things that change how we view them.

I like to call it a heavenly mindset.

Many would see it is "naive" to think that way.

Oh, but on the contrary, it takes a mind and heart full of resolve and the strength of Christ to be able to see the magical.

It's believing in God and His Promises more than we believe in our circumstances.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

My husband and I have been married almost 18 years.

Marriage is HARD.

It is a choice.

If I focus on the ugly, I would be a miserable wife. And at times, I have been a miserable wife.

I have blamed him for many things when really, it was my own self-disgust that made me dislike him.

We cannot love others if we don't first love ourselves.

Matthew 22:39, commands us to "love others as ourselves". 

If we are finding it hard to love others, we need to put a big flashlight on how we love ourselves.

I'm not talking about conceit or vanity. I am talking about loving who God made us to be. Content with His design and mold for us. Content with our assignment and portion in life.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 16:5

When I am at full on disgust over myself, I find my relationships suffer. Especially my marriage. It gets hit the hardest. By far.

It takes obedience to trust that God is working in my marriage. It takes obedience to forgive my husband when he has hurt me. It takes obedience for me to hold my tongue instead of lashing out to my husband. It takes obedience to pray for him when I would rather spit on him. [eek]

I honestly believe that the biggest test of our love is through our marriages. It is truly the most difficult relationship I believe we will ever encounter on Earth. [no offense Lem]

Look around you. Look for thriving marriages. It's not human love that keeps them alive. It's obedience. It's choosing to trust God and His plan for marriage instead of our own plan. It's choosing every single day when we wake up to love our spouse despite what the day brings.

It's an acceptance that our assignments as wives is to love, honor, and respect when we have no reason on Earth to do so.

It's an acceptance and surrender of our own happiness in order to honor and promote the happiness of our spouses.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

This is a hard teaching. For all of us.

It goes against the grain of the world. The world tells us to put ourselves first. To look out for number one. To find happiness above anything else.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 5:13

When we lay down our lives in order to honor, love, and serve another over ourselves, we find true JOY.

We should never feel like martyrs or speak of our down-trodden situation in order to receive compassion and praise from others for "hanging in a tough marriage". This is not laying down our lives. This is not the love that Jesus speaks of. This is self-pity and self-absorption.

True obedience brings overflowing joy and a harvest of fruit. We will never regret obedience, especially when it comes to our marriages. We will not look at obedience as a chore, but as a pleasure.

1 John 5:3 says, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."

We will instead be filled to the rim with more joy than we can handle. It will spill over into your man's life. It will bubble over into the lives of your children. It will seep into the fabric of all of your relationships.

Serving our husband's will become delightful. Even when nothing in them has changed.

Our hearts will change.

Our attitudes will change.

Because we have discovered the secret...

"The Joy of the Lord is my strength" Nehemiah 8:10

We know that not a single act of obedience is ever wasted. God sees it all, and He's a lavishing Father.


life really is magical,


jill








Jun 2, 2016

Summer of Obedience....

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Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening.

I know this post delivers at different times of the day, so I wanted to cover them all.

Happy Summer! I love saying that. I think I will say it again....Happy Summer!!!

Summer is my favorite. For many reasons. Mostly because I get to see my children's faces more. I get to hear their voices. I get to hear them argue constantly with each other. Oh nevermind. That's the thing I don't really like about Summer.

Each Summer the kids and I make up a theme. This year's theme could not be more timely or on target. I had suggested, "Summer of Adventure!". Both of the kids did not like that one. Why? I have no idea. Something about it sounding nerdy. Whatever.

Shortly after discussing what our theme should be, my daughter nailed it.

"Mom, I really think our Summer needs to be Summer of Obedience. We can all work on that. Especially "you know who"." [as she points to her brother's room]

I get a ping in my heart. Obedience. The exact thing that the Lord has been talking to me about for the past couple of months.

How could my daughter have known? Man, God sure speaks through our children. Count on it. Every single time.

I hugged her and told her "Summer of Obedience" would be the perfect theme. With a lump in my throat, I whispered under my breath to the Lord. "Here we go".

My mind quickly went to the book of Jonah. I can so relate to this man. We are related somehow, I just know it.

God has told Jonah to go to Ninevah to preach to the people. Jonah didn't want to. He fled the opposite direction. He fled to Tarshish. Seriously, Tarshish even sounds like the wrong direction, doesn't it?

You know the rest of the story. Jonah was swallowed up by a whale and endured some hard times until he finally said "Yes" to going to Ninevah.

Why do we do this? Why do we flee from God's plans for us at times?

I know the reason I flee.

Fear.

Pure and simple.

Fear that God must have it wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of messing it up. Fear that there is no way on Earth that this could be God's plan for me. Fear that I am not equipped.

Fear has kept me running in the opposite direction of God's call for most of my life.

The times when I have pushed through the fear, and walked in obedience have been the most exhilarating moments of my entire life.

Obedience is hard.

It takes trusting God over your human instinct and flesh. It takes trusting God over your "feelings".

I have had so many conversations with God over my feelings. "I do NOT want to do this Lord. I don't "feel" like it's what I should do."

Then, I think of Jonah again. He didn't "feel" the people of Ninevah deserved to hear him preach. He thought his way was better than God's.

Our way is never better than God's. In fact, our way can lead us into danger and wrong, very wrong paths.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9



As this Summer begins, I ask you to come along with me on the Summer of Obedience journey. Confess to the Lord the things you desire to walk in obedience with.

Maybe it's spending too much money. Maybe it's hoarding too much money. Maybe it's your health. Maybe it's forgiveness. Maybe it's your marriage. Maybe it's stepping out to disciple someone. Maybe it's reaching out to a loved one.  Maybe it's teaching a class. Maybe it's cooking a meal for someone. Maybe it's walking in JOY. Maybe it's reading your bible. Maybe it's your prayer life.

Whatever it is, God will help you discover. He's good at answering when we just ask Him.

As you begin this Summer, stay obedient in your bible reading and your prayer life. Summer is easy to slack off in these areas. I urge you, I urge "us", to stay the course. Keep reading your bible. Keep in tune withe the Father.

The bible plan we are on here at SHINE is really good. Pick back up if you have dropped off. Sharpie marker a time during the day to sit down and be with the Lord. Mornings are a really good time. Seek Him before seeking anything else.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

As we go through our obedience journey, I will post things that the Lord is working with me on. I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Obedience is a pursuit. We must pursue obedience in order to walk in it. It will not come naturally.

If you can, leave a comment letting me know you are in with me on this journey of obedience this Summer. I commit to praying for you daily as you discover the fruit of a life of obedience. Would you kindly pray for me as well? I am gonna need it.


goodbye Tarshish,

jill