May 29, 2019

Roots.....

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Colossians 4:2

So, my son graduated over the weekend.

I am sure this will be just the first of MANY posts about this. I apologize in advance.

Since 2009, I have been praying for this day.

Yes, for the past 10 years I have been praying for my son and his graduation time.

My nephew graduated in 2009. I watched as my sister really had a hard time when we he left to go out of state for college.

I remember thinking, "My sister is not someone who just likes to cry. It must be really, really, really hard."

From that day on, I  made it a priority to pray.

I knew the state of my emotions and heart, and I knew that only Jesus could keep me from falling apart.

I will say this to the mother's who have yet to come to this season, God does prepare your heart.

Especially when you pray. 

To the mother's beyond this season in motherhood, I am looking at you to see that it really will be okay.

Many mother friends of mine have crossed this path already, and such HOPE it brings my heart to see that life does go on and the new normal becomes "normal-ish".

As I was praying about this post and what I wanted to say, I just kept hearing the word, "content". (Philippians 4:11)

Contentment can only come from a heart surrendered to Jesus.

It is a daily surrender for me.

I want to be content with this season of life. 

I want to be content with growing older. 

I want to be content with my children growing older. 

I want to be content with a house that is quieter. 

I want to be content with less. 

I want to be content with all of it. 

As I look out my window and my fingers continue to type, I see the trees swaying in the slow Summer breeze.

That tree is strong, with deep roots.

I want to be like that tree. It has never moved from that spot. It sits still and unbothered by the constant changing of its leaves.

The tree towers over my back porch providing much needed shade for those that gather underneath.

Lord, help me to be like this tree to my people.

I want to be strong, rooted deep in my faith, and able to provide shade to those who need it around me.

When my children do come home, let me be like that tree. Providing a haven of comfort, joy, peace and protection from the heat of the day.

Each season the leaves change, they fall, they grow back again.

It is the rhythm and nature of life.

The trees know that the seasons do not last forever. They change.

But, with each new season comes Joy if we will embrace it.

Motherhood is not a calling that ends when your child turns 18.

Motherhood is a life long calling.

A calling that will continue to wake us up at night to pray. A calling that will go beyond the years when they do move out of the nest.

Motherhood encompasses a lifetime. Just like that tree outside my window.

Instead of toppling over when the winds get strong and the weather gets harsh, we burrow deeper into our relationship with Christ. Just like the roots of that tree burrow deep into the soil.

The deeper the root, the stronger the tree.

Motherhood will bring us to a place of strange oneness with God if we let it.

When I feel the pain of my insides when I think of my boy going away to college, I think about God.

Of all of the parents in the entire world, He alone knows my pain.

He knows before I even speak.

Sometimes I have felt so alone with this weird pang in my soul, only to find the greatest comfort in falling at the feet of Jesus.

This letting go of our children thing...

This watching them fly out of the protection of our nest...

This ache in our hearts for things to be different....


God knows. He knows all of it.

He too has ached.

For us.

For Jesus.

For all of His children.

He knows what this strange pain feels like. Like, no other.

This comfort, this peace. It can only be explained by the Miracle of God's love for us.

I have felt Him in a new way this season.

When for a flash of a moment I  have felt alone, I have felt the overwhelming grip of His Love.

When I have needed to talk, but words could never come out right to anyone...

He has listened.

Without me saying a word.

Do you find yourself in a lonely place?

I understand.

But, you are not alone. Ever.

He is with you. Right there next to you.

He sees you. (Psalm 139:1)

He feels every ounce of your pain.

And, in a strange way, without changing a thing, He will bring Peace to your heart.

A flood of Peace that does not even make sense.

He will bring a contentment that seems strange and different, but there none the less.

He has a plan for you too, momma.

Your child will not be the only one beginning something new. He has marked the path already for you as well.

All the prayers we pray over our babies, somehow, only by the breathtaking Love of God, come back to us. Covering us in a blanket of grace.

People will comment that you seem different.

Because you are.

God is doing a work in your heart too.

Those prayers, those dead in the night, early in the morning, prayers....

They are still being answered in more ways than you even imagined. (Ephesians 3:20)

Let that bring Hope to your weary heart.

Do not stop praying.

Ever.

Motherhood is a call to pray.

Pure and simple.

Yet, powerful and profound.



content,


jill






May 7, 2019

Pray, Fast, Wait, Repeat...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Questions? Email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com

If you haven't figured out already, for some reason the video I attached did not send in your SHINE email. However, it is posted on the website. Weird. Technology. Oops.


So, as I was cutting up an onion this afternoon, I kept going back to our reading in Nehemiah.

I have a tendency to jump the gun on things. When an idea strikes, I am ready to implement. This can be good sometimes, and NOT so good other times.

Nehemiah is teaching me a lot about waiting. And praying. And fasting. And waiting.

When Nehemiah heard about the state of Jerusalem, he literally wept. He grieved.

The Bible says, "When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of Heaven." Nehemiah 1:4


Nehemiah heard the tragic news  of Jerusalem and its decaying walls in the Fall. However, he did not implement a plan to help until that next Spring. It was all about timing. God's timing.

A couple of things to learn here.

His heart of compassion for the Jewish people.

He wept when he received the news.

How many times have we heard devastating news, and we just move on or turn the channel?

I am definitely guilty of this.

When did we become so calloused to suffering?

It seems all too normal to hear of horrible things, right?

But, Nehemiah, did not move on. He sat with it. He grieved over it. He prayed about it. He fasted.

This lasted for several months, Not days, not weeks, but months. 

When the time was right, he did not tell a soul. He waited and then left in the middle of the night on the journey to help Jerusalem rebuild its wall.

Nehemiah and the workers ended up finishing the wall in 52 days. 52!!

This was nothing short of a miracle.

They never stopped working. In fact, many were not happy about the rebuilding of the wall and tried to distract Nehemiah from his work.

His exact words, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Nehemiah 6:3

Wow, read that one more time.

I have an entirely new post for that one scripture.

I will save that for later.

What has God laid on your heart to do?

Have you prayed? Fasted? Waited?

Let us learn from Nehemiah.

Goodness, I love God's Word! Don't you?!!



waiting, fasting, praying,


jill


May 6, 2019

SHINE Spotlight.....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Questions? Email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com

Hey, SHINE friends! As we enter into our 5th month of reading through the Bible together, I want to encourage you to stick with it. 

Maybe you aren't currently reading through the plan with us, but you are looking for a reading plan? 

We would LOVE for you to jump on with us! 

You can purchase the Daily Walk Bible on Amazon or at a Christian bookstore. OR, you can print out the plan here. It is so so so good. 

Each day has a reading and a devotional to go with it. 

Here is a little clip of one of our SHINE friends that is currently reading through the Bible with us. 

Be encouraged by Erin Davis! She and I talk almost weekly about what we are reading and how it is literally changing us!

If you are currently following the plan with us, I would LOVE to feature you as well. Email me and let me know!



May 2, 2019

Hit the Floor....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here.
Questions? Email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com




Late Tuesday night my oldest child, Joseph, left on a field trip to Disney. Yes, DISNEY. I don't remember having those kinds of trips when I was his age. Do you??

It's a little hard letting my children go for a few days. It's never been an easy thing for me.

Fear has been a big part of those reasons. Yes, I love my kids.  However, fear is what made my heart tremble when they would be out of my sight. I felt like as long as they were with me, they would be fine. Control issues, I know.

Early in my parenting years, fear haunted me day in and day out. I could not eat some days. I could not sleep. Fear tormented my mind. Every possible worse scenario I could imagine, is what my mind stayed focused on. It was terrible.

My husband thought I was going crazy. In fact, I probably was. The enemy was whispering lies into my ears and I was listening to them and believing them.

There were many days when I would drop my kids off at school and go home and cry. All day long.

Fear was my enemy.

One day, a wise friend told me to pray scripture over them each day. She told me that not only would it help me, but it would help them.

I thought it was a little crazy at first, because I wasn't really believing what I was praying. It felt kind of not natural. My mind and my flesh were very opposed to praying like this. If I was praying, who was going to worry for me?? Crazy, I know.

Soon after, I began to hang scripture all around my house. At the coffee pot, in my bathroom, in the kids rooms...all over the house. Lem thought I had officially lost my mind. When, in fact, I was beginning to get my mind back from the enemy.

Those horrible thoughts were now being pounded with Truth. Day in. Day out.

Those fearful thoughts had no choice but to leave. They could not dwell where Truth was beginning to dwell. They didn't even stand a chance.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Praying scripture over my children changed my life. Dramatically. It brought peace to  heart racked with fear. It brought joy to a heart in despair.

My old prayers sounded something like this, "God bless my children. Keep them safe, please!!!"

God taught me through His Word to change my prayers to this: "Keep my children from all harm. Watch over their life, watch over their coming and going. Both now and forevermore." Psalm 121:7-8

When we pray God's word back to Him something amazing happens. His Will opens up. The Heavens open up at the sound of His Word being spoken back to Him! You can even feel it in your spirit as you pray! When His Words become our words, POWER comes!

If you are new at this, or if you have been doing this all along, I want to share some of my favorite scripture prayers with you. You will adapt to your favorites along the way, but this will get you started.

"Lord lead my children away from temptation, and deliver them from the evil one." Matthew 6:13

"Put a hedge of protection around my children and everything they have" Job 1:10

"Remind my children that they belong to you and not the world" John 17:15

"Lord, cause my children to love their enemies, to do good to those who hate them, to bless those who curse them, to pray for those that mistreat them. Help them do to others as they would have done to them." Luke 6:27-31

"I pray that my children's identity will be firmly rooted and established in Christ's love, and that they may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and how long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge...that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

"Let my children know that they belong to you" Romans 14:7-9

"Let the light of your face shine upon my children. Fill their heart with joy, and let them lie down and sleep in peace." Psalm 4:6-8 [a really good nighttime prayer]

"Show my children that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that your works are wonderful. Teach them that they are precious in your sight, and that you love them." Psalm 139:14, Isaiah 43:4

"Like Timothy, may my children be an example to believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity" 1 Timothy 4:12

"Please let my children have the ability to rise above the traps of people pleasing so they can be kept safe by trusting You, Lord" Proverbs 29:25

"May my children think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, may he think about these things" Philippians 4:8


The best way we can win the battle for the hearts of our children is on our knees. So, let's start praying now. Shall we?


on my knees,


jill

(original post 4/30/15)

May 1, 2019

Don't Quit....

The Lord always speaks to me through the life of my kids. Always.

Since I began writing on this blog, I have almost daily wanted to shut it down and quit writing. As much as I love writing, at times it feels too vulnerable. Too exposed. Too much.

 Sometimes I just want to be a different kind of girl. A girl that has different gifts and different talents other than the ones God has given me.

I want to be like my friend who can make the best cinnamon rolls in town. Or like my friend who has the gift of hospitality. Or like my friend who sings on stage and sounds like an angel. Or like my friend who has a passion for healthy eating and exercising. Or like my friend who is a teacher at our local school and is loved by all of her students. Or like my sister who is crazy talented with hair and makeup. Or like my mom who can make anyone laugh in five seconds flat.

Most of my life I have questioned my talents. Often wondering if I had any.

However, very recently something happened with one of my kids. Something God used to speak so pointedly to my heart.

My daughter was singing in the car. I told her how beautiful her voice was. She stopped and said, "I have a horrible voice. Nobody ever says I sing pretty when I sing at recess."

I replied back to her, "I think you sing beautiful, sweet girl. You make my heart so happy every time I hear you sing."

She replied back, "I am just never going to sing again. Nobody listens anyway."

As I envisioned my struggle with wanting to keep writing, I thought about her words.

My daughter has a gift. A gift of a sweet singing voice. She blesses me each time she sings. God has given her the ability to hear music and sing in tune. Why would she ever think that of not using her gift?

God gives us gifts to ultimately glorify Him.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:6

Our gifts are not about the people that do not celebrate our gifts, it is about the Giver of the Gift.

It all goes back to Him.

When we are waiting for the world to give its approval, our gifts will be suffocated and smoldered. Or even worse, never used.

God is showing me that when I write, it is not about how many people read it or approve. My writing is for Him. Whatever He does with it, us up to Him.

We may never, ever know what He does with our gifts. Although, I do believe He gives us glimpses occasionally.

However, we deprive ourselves and others when we choose to not use our gifts and talents. Just like with my daughter's singing, if she doesn't sing, I will miss out on the opportunity to hear her sweet voice.

If my mom decided to stop being funny, I would miss being able to belly laugh with her! If my friend decided to stop making cinnamon rolls, I would miss out on the best cinnamon rolls my tongue ever tasted!

Maybe you feel your gift is not special or important. Maybe, like me, you wish you had someone else's gift.

I encourage you to embrace what God has given you. If you have any doubt about your gift, talk to God about it. He will make clear your path. Trust Him to lead you.

Ask a close friend, or your husband. They will tell you what your gifts are. Sometimes it's something that comes so natural to us we don't even notice it.

I pray God will surround you with encouraging friends that cheer you on as you use and discover your gifts.  Pray for these kinds of friends. They will spur you on when you want to quit. Trust me on this one.

Let's be THOSE kind of friends.  Let's encourage each other instead of comparing ourselves to each other. Let's take the time to notice when a friend needs a little lift. It could make a world of difference in their life.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds"Hebrews 10:24

So, I guess I will keep writing. I know there will be days when I want to close up shop. I will try my best to remember that writing is not about me, it is about Him. The Giver.


still writing,


jill


(original post 5/14/15)

Apr 30, 2019

Our Great Assignment....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here

Who's still with me on our Reading Plan?

 I know some days can be hard. Really hard.

But, keep going. Push through. You will be so very glad you did.

Today, we read about King Josiah. His father and great grandfather were some of the most evil kings in history.

However, Josiah was different.

Josiah's priest, Hilkiah uncovered God's law in the Lord's Temple. It had been sitting there for many years. Untouched.

Josiah quickly aligned the people he governed under the Law of God. He destroyed anything and anyone that was not in line with the book of God's Law.

He was a very successful King with a heart to serve the Lord.

Here is what sticks out to me here....

No wonder his parents and grandparents and so on were so evil....they had not been taught about God.

Not one father had passed the Law of God down to their children.

After all the Lord had done for this mighty nation, somewhere along the way, the teachings of Moses, given by God, had been forgotten about completely.

As a mother, this really resonates hard on my heart.

I have a huge responsibility here.

What am I teaching my children?

Do they know about Jesus?

Not just from sunday school, but from my own example.

Where are the bibles in my house?

Are they hidden on a dusty shelf, or maybe even on display but never open?

These passages from 2 Chronicles jolt me to life.

It starts with us.

Or it ends with us.

Which one will it be?

I want to leave my children with a legacy of faith.

No matter what path they choose, I want to know for sure that I led them to the Living Water of God's Word. That is my job.

The world will try its best to squash our teaching. To lead our kids down a path that seems shinier and more popular.

King Josiah knew it had to start with him.

He did everything in his power to follow God's Word and to lead his people to do the same.

Are we doing the same?

Oh, I sure want to.

But, sometimes its easy to get lazy. And tired.

Let King Josiah encourage you today.

Go, dust off that bible on the shelf.

Open it and let it breathe Life back into your weary lungs.

There is only way Way...and it's God's Way.

All else will lead to a path of destruction. Look no further than the Old Testament.

Parents, we have an assignment that is bigger than anything we could possibly imagine.

Are we leading our children to "Seek first the Kingdom of God?" Matthew 6:33

Let's encourage each other, friends.

The world needs a generation raised in the Lord and His Truth.

There is much work to be done.


forging ahead,


jill

Apr 23, 2019

The Hidden Life.....

As usual, this is not the post I was about to sit down and write. Nope.

There is no preparation for this post. Just a heart being bent a different way by the Holy Spirit as I write.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about motherhood. How hard it can be at times. How hidden it can feel at times. Meaning, so often, what we do is not seen. And, may never be seen.

But, God sees it.

 However, sometimes we want others to notice. To applaud us. To recognize the sweat on our brows and the exhaustion in our bones.

Often, it just seems like what we are doing as mothers will never inch us closer to the world's version of success. Or successful motherhood anyway.

I used to scroll Instagram seeing mothers which multiple children. Some even adopted or fostered With multiple playrooms. With multiple everything that I did not have. Mothers looking fabulous and of course always witty and enchanting.

It seemed so.....perfect.  I would look up from my phone and see my smaller house and two kids, and feel so......average.

I would look in the mirror and see the lines on my face and the aging in my eyes and think....wow. I really don't look successful. Or even average. I look....rough. 

Do you ever feel like this?

Do you ever feel that if you don't post a picture or a status update of your motherhood in motion and in action, that maybe, you don't really exist?

Gosh, I sure have felt this way.

It has seemed that if no one sees what happens here, it doesn't really count. If no one applauds me or nods their head in agreement to the thousands of words I let fall out of my mouth each day, some good and some not so good, then it must not really matter.

Through social media our lives have become open books. Open to the whole wide world to see, to interpret, to look into.

This has to affect how we live. How we mother. How we think.

Nothing is discreet or hidden these days. Everything is laid out for the whole watching world to see.

Hence, our children feel the pressure. To measure up. To look a certain way. To purchase filters for their pictures to enhance and edit their precious bodies. Because....

The world watches.

And what about the mothers?

We have felt it too.

We follow  mothers that we do not even know, quoting what they quote, buying what they buy, cooking what they cook, dressing how they dress....

At some point, we have to ask ourselves, what is reality?

Is there even such thing anymore?

The hidden life. The treasures found in a serving life. Away from the limelight. Away from the glare of the camera lens. Away from the approval and likes of others....

This is what I so desperately crave.

Like the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume.

Giving all she had...not thinking twice....and pouring it out on the Lord's feet. Washing his feet with her hair.

No accolades, in fact insults from the men around Jesus. "Why do you do this? You could have made money off of this to give to the poor..."

Jesus replied, "The poor you will always have, but you will not always have Me."

I am paraphrasing here. Look up the complete passage here in Matthew 26.

I want to be like this woman.

Wanting nothing on earth but Jesus.

Wanting only His approval and His eyes.

But, why is it so hard?

I think of John's piercing words here...

"He must become greater, I must become less." John 3:30

How do we become less in a world that shouts that we need to be greater?

Could it be that the greatest treasures are hidden. Away from the world's peering eyes. Away from the amount of social media friends, likes, and comments we have.

Could it be that the greatest treasure is actually found far away from all of it.

In the quiet of your bedroom. In the clink of pans in your kitchen as you prepare your one millionth dinner for the week. In the whisper of your child's breath saying her prayers each night. In the closeness of your spouse as you sit on the couch together watching the news. In the hello of your elderly neighbor as he sits on his porch watching the birds sing and dance around him.

The simple ordinary average  life. Just may be the greatest treasure we will ever unearth.

Maybe our lights shine even brighter when He lights them and we don't. Perhaps we don't even see the light, but others will and they do.

We can still be a city shining on a hill...

Like a lighthouse. It glows. It beckons. It shines.

And brings others ashore.

Without saying a word.


You matter, and He sees.


Embracing the hidden,



jill
















Apr 20, 2019

Seeing Jesus at The Dump.....

Reading Plan: Find it here. 

I had no plans to write this story today. None. However, sometimes the words in your soul are palpitating against your skin and they must come out to breathe the cool air of release.

Words hold such power. If we truly could see the healing or damage they do, we would probably never utter another solitary word without deep consideration.

I pray these words bring healing to those hurting, grieving, and broken.

On February 6th of this year, Lem and I went furniture shopping at a place in Atlanta called The Dump. Sounds lovely, right?

It's a HUGE place. Furniture everywhere. I mean, everywhere.

A little overwhelming for this small town girl to be honest.

We were walking around for a few minutes when I noticed a sweet family sitting on some sectional couches. I had to do a double-take because they looked so familiar. Without trying to look stalky, I looked each face over intently. I could not place how I knew them. Something though, was beckoning me to keep watching them.

Really, I am not this strange usually. I promise.

As Lem and I kept looking over all of the furniture, I kept glancing over my shoulder at this family. What was it about them that was drawing my eyes to them? Why was I so fascinated with these people?

Lem dragged me by the arm and pulled me off into another direction. He's kinda used to my weirdness.

About 30 minutes later, I saw the mother of that family on a sectional by herself. It was the same one my husband and I were looking at. I went and sat next to her.

Who am I, and why am I acting so crazy? I don't usually go and sit next to a perfect stranger as they are testing out a couch. I promise.

We quickly started chatting, and chatting, and chatting. I was so drawn to talk to her, to listen to her, and to know about her precious family.

Honestly, I don't remember much about the entirety of our conversation, but I vividly remember the end of it.

As we got off of the couch and said goodbye to each other, I casually asked her how old her children were.

She told me their names and ages, and ended with, "And we have a 17 year old that passed away in December."

I thought maybe I misunderstood her for a moment. But, the look on her beautiful face told me otherwise.

She went on to tell me small details about what had happened to her son.

It was a tragedy. A crime. A murder.

With tears spilling down my face, I grabbed her and wrapped my helpless arms around her.

How in the world had she been able to casually talk to me on that couch? How as she able to get out of bed that day, or any day for that matter? How in the world could she look that peaceful and beautiful in the midst of such horror?

Immediately, I pulled back from her and looked at her face again.

"You are a believer, aren't you," I asked her.

I knew what her answer would be before I asked her.

"Yes, I am."

She went on to tell me how God had been so gracious to her and how her church family, family members and friends had been a life-line for her and her family. She said they could not make it through without them.

I just sat there slack-jawed. Taking in the sight of this providential moment.

After saying our final goodbyes and assuring her I would pray for her family, Lem and I got to the car and I cried my eyes out.

I had left a piece of my heart right there near that leather sectional we were sitting on.

I had just witnessed the Peace and Love of Christ like never before.  It was all over my new friend's face. In her mannerisms. In her voice. In her stillness.

I had just seen Jesus.

God had drawn my eyes to her from the moment we walked in and would not let me leave without talking to her. He knew I needed to know her story, and He knew what it would do to my soul.

As a mother, when we hear of these kinds of tragedies, our blood runs cold. We stop breathing for a moment and picture ourselves in their shoes.

Empathy sets in and we cannot shake it without drenching it with prayer.

She has been on my heart heavy ever since.

As I picture the scene in my mind of Jesus on the cross, I see my friend's teenage son. I see the injustice. I see the horror. I see the inhumane tragedy of a life cut too short.

As I picture Jesus's mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross, I picture my friend's face.

She has walked in Mary's shoes. She is walking in Mary's shoes.

Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute.

My friend has had to walk through her own child being taken by the hands of evil.

Yet, she is able to have Peace. To have Comfort. To have Assurance...

This is not the end.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

And, just like Mary, she will see her boy again. It will be sweet and it will be eternal. And, in the meantime, the impact of her life and the story of her son will draw many to the Cross. Even at a place called the Dump.

Isn't God just like that.

Making a place called The Dump, a place of Holy Ground.


Sunday is coming,


jill

(Originally posted 3/2016)





/