Feb 9, 2016

Quit rolling your eyes....

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This past weekend I had a long, yawn-induced, talk to my children about the importance of good character.

What they don't know is that every teaching moment I share with them, is really a teaching moment that God has shared with me. I was taught first by Him. Then, I share it with them as if I have it down pat. When actually, I usually am right in the thick of the lesson. 

Hence, the lesson on character. 

This all came about when I was on the phone with someone a few weeks ago. I found myself rolling my eyes at something they said. It may or may not have been my husband on the other line. 

By the third time I rolled my eyes, I had a ping in my heart. You know the ping. The ping of conviction. 

I looked around and thought,"Why the conviction? Nobody is watching me. My kids cannot see me. No one can see me roll my eyes."

Then, I heard a scripture in my head loud and oh so bell-ringing clear..."You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away." Psalm 139:2

Here is how I heard it in my heart though.."You know when I roll my eyes, Lord. Even if I don't roll them and roll them in my thoughts. You see me."

Eek. 

I was busted. Oh so busted.

So, this is how this character stuff all got started. 

How am I acting when no one is looking? 

What kind of thoughts are going on in my head?

Do I really have to put the grocery cart back up, Lord? Can't I just leave it here and pray it won't roll off into the wild blue yonder and hit someone's car?

I want to always do the right thing. Not because I want to be a goody goody, but because I want to honor the Lord. 

However, it's hard sometimes. Sometimes I just wanna be a rebel and not put the bananas back in the fruit isle when it's easier to sit them right on the shelf near the spaghetti sauce when I decide I don't need them after all. [I think that was a run-on sentence. Hope that's not a sign of bad character.]

I want to live out this verse: 

...so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God... " Colossians 1:10

Please God in all respects. Bear fruit in every good work. Increase my knowledge of Him. 

YES!

So, as I was teaching my children the importance of their character, I urged them to be aware of their thoughts throughout the day. I told them to "capture their thoughts to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5

When our thoughts run away, so do our hearts. 

Even if our mouths are not out of line, if are hearts are out of line, then we are not honoring the Lord.

"'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Matthew 15:8

As I pray for my children to be bold, strong in the Lord, to be wise, to be discerning....

I am also praying for their hearts to be devoted to God at all times. Not just when people are looking. 

My prayer is that they will know that the little things in life are really the big things. 

When they choose obedience in the very smallest things, they are honoring the Lord in a very big way. 

"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones." 
Luke 16:10

Since the talk with my kids, I have seen small little changes in them. Very small, but I have noticed. 

I haven't said anything to them about the small character changes I have seen because I want them to do this for the Lord and not for their momma. 

The desire of my heart is for their true character to reflect Christ. A heart fully devoted to the Lord even in the deepest parts. I desire the same thing for my heart. 

If I am not honoring and respecting those around me, I am not honoring the Lord. 

Here are some prayers I am praying over my children and myself this week as we develop our character. 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." John 14:23


Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Colossians 3:20

The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, But the blameless in their walk are His delight. Proverbs 11:20

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

"And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." John 8:29

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Our character is important to God. It reflects who we really are when no one is looking.

God desires our character to reflect Him.

Let's work on this. For the rest of our lives, shall we?


no more eye-rolling,


jill










Feb 2, 2016

Above all else....

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We tend to guard many things in our lives. We guard things that mean something to us.

We guard our homes with security systems. We guard our cars from break-ins by locking them. We guard our skin from cancer by wearing sunscreen.

If something is important to us, we guard it.

God tells us something that we must guard above anything else in life....our hearts.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" Proverbs 4:23

As parents, we are diligent about guarding our children from harm. We take many precautions to keep them safe from predators and unforeseen dangers.

Sometimes, however, we forget to guard the one thing, above all else, that needs guarding....our hearts.

God has made this very personal in my life. Very personal.

"Guarding my heart", is not just a lovely proverb that sounds good. Guarding my heart has to be a way of life. 

When I don't guard my heart, I fall into sin. I fall into captivity. Even if just temporary, I fall.

Yes, I still belong to Christ, because I became His when I accepted Him as my Savior. However, when I don't heed His instructions, when I step out of His umbrella of protection over me, I fall. Big time.

He has given me specific instructions in areas that my heart has to be guarded. 

For example, I have to be very careful about what I read, what I watch on T.V, what I scroll through on the internet, and even magazines that I flip through.

I have to be careful about certain things, because I can get easily tripped up. I can get drawn away from Christ, and right smack into the very things that held me captive. 

I can read a very well-meaning blog or a parenting magazine, and immediately feel self-condemnation. I will compare myself to those parents or people, and go right back to that place of insecurity.

It's not that there is anything wrong with reading these things...at all. It's because I  know my heart, and God knows my heart the most. He knows that certain things are triggers to my areas of past captivity of insecurity and fear.

Maybe your triggers are much different. Maybe they are lust, food, greed, jealousy, spending, sexual promiscuity, discontentment, depression, lying, stealing.......

Certain activities and even certain relationships can actually lure us right back to these places that we have been set free from.

We can get drawn to the edge of the pit of sin that held us in bondage, and step right back in, if we are not careful. If we are not guarding our hearts.

If our hearts are the wellspring of life, like the Proverb says, we have a lot at stake when we decide to take the guard off of our hearts. 

God, our Father, like any good parent, wants to protect us. He wants to keep us safe from falling back into the pit of past strongholds.

So, He sets boundaries for us. He not only sets the boundary lines for us in His Word, but in our own personal lives.

"Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you" Proverbs 2:11

We know how to access His Word, but how do we know specific areas that He wants us to abstain from for our own personal protection?

I think that can be easily answered when we look back over our past areas of temptations or strongholds.

We must always remember, that those things can and will still trip us up, if we don't guard our hearts from them. 

Sometimes, I think I have grown, and gotten past certain things that can make me fall, or bring me close to the edge of that pit. I tend to think that I can now handle those things. I am stronger, I am wiser.

This is a lie.

Those things are just as harmful now as they were then to my heart. Some things don't change. 

I urge you today, to ask the Lord very specific ways that you can guard that beautiful heart of yours. Not only that, but that He will give you the strength to walk in obedience and stay far away from paths that lead you to those old bondages. Those unsafe places that the Lord desires to protect us from.


padlocking this heart,

jill

Jan 29, 2016

What's your story?

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Can I tell you something? I am head over heels in love with God's Word. I mean, it is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning. It is the ONLY thing, besides coffee, that can motivate me to roll out of bed. In fact, there is a verse that I say in my heart as soon as my eyes pop open at 5:08 am. "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

It hasn't always been this way. My bible sat on my shelf for years and years. In fact, it was so dusty that I would have to clean it off when I remembered to take it to church with me. This has not been that long ago. I thought bibles were for emergency situations. Like, when you need a scripture to help you in the moment. Or if you are in need a scripture for a friend. Gosh, I was so so wrong.

Yesterday morning, as I was reading in Genesis, I had so stop for a moment and just take it all in. His Word is so riveting. I had to pause and just tell God thank you. Thank you for Your Word that changes my heart.

At 6:30 am, I have to wake up the rest of my people. I love my people. But, I love God more.

It takes every living fiber of my being to get off that warm couch and tell my people to "rise and shine". Honestly, that's harder to me than getting out of the bed.

I immediately pray to Him in that moment, "Lord, please let me love these people like you would like me to. Help me to nurture them and care for them and just love the heck out of them. Cause, really, I just wanna sit here all day with You."

Of course, I love my people. With every cell of my body. Being a wife and momma is what I was made to do.

But, man, oh man. Being with Jesus trumps it all. Hands down.

As I was reading about Joseph in the book of Genesis, something hit me.

Joseph's life did not start out so well.

He was sold into slavery by his brothers and then thrown into jail.

God showed Joseph some massive favor. I mean, massive.

Joseph became a great and mighty man of God. He was favored wherever he went.

A life that seemed to be going nowhere, suddenly was turned into a legacy.

Where are you right now in your life? Are you feeling like there is no possible way that anything good could come from where you are?

Oh, sweet sister, He has so much for you.

The story of Joseph gives me hope. Hope that God has not forgotten about me. Hope that He bends down and listens to every one of my snotty and lengthy prayers.

Hope that He is paving a path for me and my family that I will not even believe one day.

However, I have to trust Him. I have to follow Him. I have to believe in His Promises.

It's not enough to just know His promises, I must believe them.

Do you believe His promises over you?

As I was looking for a particular scripture, this one just popped up on my screen. So, we are going with it....

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.


This is my prayer over you. May you fall so deeply in love with Jesus that you don't even know what hit you. May you feel His peace, power, and love overwhelm your precious soul.

He has a beautiful end to your story. I don't care who you are.

Will you let Him write your story from here on out? Will you surrender it all to Him and watch what He will do with the broken pieces?

I cannot wait to watch your story in Heaven. I want the hugest bucket of popcorn, a big bag of Twizzlers, and an enormous box of Goobers. Not to forget a cherry coke. No diet. The real thing.

I love you.


your story is beautiful,

jill





Jan 26, 2016

Imagine that.....

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I promise I am not on a writing strike. Don't you have to get paid for what you are doing to go on strike, anyway?  (ok, my jokes aren't funny. moving on)

Things have just been a little cray-cray around here. Remember, we are moving. I told you about my over the top, King Kong sized laundry room. And my mini-kitchen. Perfect for Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It's not funny. Stop laughing.

They (who are they anyway?) say that moving is right up there with having a baby as far as stress. Yep, I believe it.

So, although I am not on a writing strike, I don't have time to sit down and have a cup of piping hot coffee with my SHINE friends over this computer screen today.  Instead, I have a sweet friend that wants to join you for your morning coffee. Her name is Melanie. Pull up a chair. Or couch. Or bed.

Melanie is about to gift you with a wonderful message. I read this yesterday as I scarfed down my chicfila kale salad. I cherished each word just as much as I cherished each bite of that delicious salad.

Be blessed by my friend, Melanie Hall. (and go visit her blog for more encouragement!)

The Lord  your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will love you, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph 3:17)
And so it begins. Another year. Another chapter.  Another chance.  And it is ours to decided what we do with it.  Many people make New Year resolutions.  I do not. Not because I think they do not matter, mostly because I am relatively good at keeping set on a goal and do not need the New Year to hold me accountable.  I do however think about what my resolution would be, assuming I made one.  Would it be to save money? Exercise more? Eat less? Yell less? Have more patience? And then it hit me and I realized that I had come up with a New Year resolution that could change the world.  One that could change our homes and our friendships and our marriages and our success.  Ladies, hear me out on this one because this could be life changing if we could figure out how to make it happen.

What if our New Year resolution was to like ourselves more?  Ugh. You cringed didn't you?  I know, I hear ya. But stay with me for just a moment.  Think about it. Think about how different your day would be if you liked yourself more.  And I mean all of yourself.  Not just your hair or your  boobs or your latest outfit.  Like really liked everything about yourself, just like He made you.  No returns, no exchanges, nothing added or taken away.  Rest in that thought with me for just a bit.  Can you imagine? I  cannot.  Honestly. I am not sure it is even possible in the world that we live in today.  Society and media and retail have surly laid it on thick trying to convince us that we are not enough. Some of us watch TV shows that make us feel less beautiful.  Others of us do not need TV because our husbands are doing just fine.  Some of us have neighbors that we compare ourselves to or friends, good friends, even great friends that we enjoy but leave us feeling defeated after our time together. This is no one's fault but our own of course, but it does happen. 

I am going to be brutally honest with you for just a moment.  I do not like myself.  Not all of myself anyway. To be fair, there are pieces of myself that I like a lot.  Most of those have to do with my personality.  I like that I am strong and honest. I like that I am a good friend to those that I love the most.  I like that I am completely and utterly in love with my husband, so much so that I do not even realize other men are in the room.  There is a list.  I won't bore you with the rest.  But there is also a list of don't likes.  I don't like my body. I have NEVER liked it.  I have been heavier and I have weighed less. I have been in worse shape and in better shape. It's never been enough.  I don't like what I have accomplished so far in my life. I feel like I could have done more, helped more, accomplished more.  I don't like that I live in Tennessee and I have a full list of reasons that I blame for that one, all of which are superficial and ridiculous.  The list goes on....

You see, my friends, it doesn't matter does it?  What we do and do not like about ourselves has zero to do with reality and everything to do with our hearts.  Somewhere along the line someone said something to us, did something to us, left us, hurt us, modeled for us, and we took those words or that example and tore off a piece of our hearts and replaced it with that lie.  And there it has sat ever since reminding us that our worth lies in the eyes of others.  A big FAT LIE that we have spent a lifetime believing.  It is exhausting. 

I think about my past and my present.  If I stop and think through conflicts that I have been in and I am honest with myself, most of them could have been avoided if I just liked myself more. If I hadn't allowed the other person to decide my worth, I could have walked away from most of them bruised but not beaten, tired but not lost. 

Ladies, our worth lies in only One person's hands and that is the hands of Jesus.  That is truth.  It is written. I realize that it is hard to believe. I understand that we pride ourselves on being good mothers, wives, friends, daughters, teachers, coworkers, and that day to day successes feed our souls.  But we are doing it wrong. All of us. And I am leading the pack.  It's like a really dysfunctional game of follow the leader where we are all walking in a circle comparing ourselves to the person in front of us and talking about the person behind us.  It is sad.  And we are setting a horrible example for our daughters.  We are teaching them that their worth lies in the hands and the eyes and the minds of everyone BUT Jesus. 

I look at these 6 blue eyes that are watching me and I am ashamed of myself.  I don't want them to care. I don't want them to care what you think or what I think or what their dad thinks. I want them to care what Jesus thinks.  I want them to look in the mirror and be blown away at the fact that every piece of them was planned perfectly. Have you ever done that?  Can you imagine? I don't want them to suck in their stomach or hold up their "beaten up after 5 babies" breasts and wish. I want them to stand there just like they are and smile. When is the last time you did that? Can you imagine? I want them to see the talents of others and enjoy them not covet them.  I want them to take THEIR gifts and relish in them rather than wish for more.  Have you ever done that?  Can you imagine?   I don't want them to wonder if they are enough or what else they could do to make themselves more appealing.  I want them to marry a man that loves Jesus and them and to actually believe him when he tells them they are beautiful and that he loves them and only them forever. Have you ever done that? Can you imagine? 

Ladies, what if your New Year resolution was to like yourself more?  What if it was mine? What would your marriage be like? What would your friendships be like? What would your daughters be like when they grow up?  Wouldn't it be amazing to raise a new generation of women who depended on the love of Jesus rather than the love of man? Would you be willing to join that movement if it was started? Should we do it? ;) 

Happy New Year Ladies! 
Melanie

Jan 14, 2016

I hate laundry...

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Second post this week. I'm on a roll.  Don't pass out on me. I need you to stay with me for a minute. Okay?

Recently, I was folding my children's clothes. I hate laundry. It's from the devil. Really. I just know that when we get to heaven there will be NO MORE LAUNDRY to wash and fold. I just KNOW it.

So, since I dread folding laundry, years ago I decided to use that as a time to pray over my people. As I fold each little piece of their clothing, I pray. I pray over their arms, their legs, their feet, their fingers, their toes...all of it.

It kinda works. It takes my mind off of the dreaded task of folding. Eventually, I start to enjoy folding their stuff. Not really. But, it does help.

As I was folding their laundry this week, I kept thinking about the house that we are about to move into. We purchased it back in November, and we are in the process of renovating it. In the meantime, we are in a rental house.

The house that we are about to move into has an enormous laundry room.

This laundry room is probably bigger than the kitchen. I am not kidding you. The kitchen is tiny. Really. It is.

Does God have a sense of humor or what? He knows I hate laundry. He knows I spend a lot of time in prayer as I do laundry. So, what does He do? He picks a house for us with a tiny kitchen and an oversized laundry room with THREE windows in it. Do you think He's trying to tell me something?

Good grief. I should have been more prayerful as I cooked so He would have blessed me with a bigger kitchen!

During this entire moving process, the Lord has been really stretching me in contentment. Ever been stretched there? Oh my. It's a painful process.

As we have been renovating, it has been easy to lose my contentment. This house will be different. It will be smaller. It will be older. It will be different.

Don't get me wrong...we love this house. It is perfect for us in every way. However, as I scroll through pinterest and house magazines for ideas, my stomach can drop. It can easily make me lose my contentment.

As I see pictures of over-sized kitchens, high ceilings, and upgraded everything...I can start to lose my joy.

In our SHINE reading, we are in the book of Genesis. Abraham is teaching me a whole lot about contentment at the very moment. Good ol' Abe.

There's a lot to learn from Abraham.

One thing in particular the Lord pointed me to was Abraham's contentment. God asked him to leave his life, his home, everything. Abraham did.

God told him that he would have many children one day. However, that day did not come until he was 100 years old. 100!!

Yet, Abraham stayed content. [His wife Sarah was a different story.]

This passage right here took my breath away. Will you read it with me?

 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9

The back story here is that Lot was Abraham's nephew. They traveled a lot together. However, quarreling took place between their herders that accompanied them. So, Abraham decided to part ways. He offered Lot the first choice in which land to travel and settle.

Lot, of course, chose the land that looked the best. He wasn't a dummy. Lot chose the land that looked the most beautiful and prosperous. 

Abraham gave Lot first pick. 

Really, Abraham was older and more the leader of this pack so he should have gotten first choice. 

However, Abraham had a heart of contentment. He knew without a shadow of doubt that God would provide for him and his people. He didn't bat an eyelash over Lot's choice. 

 But godliness with contentment is a great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

It is no wonder God chose Abraham for such a mission. God chose him to be the father of his people.

Besides Abraham's faithfulness, he was full of contentment.

I believe the two go hand in hand. It's hard to be discontent with a heart full of faith.

We either trust God with what we has provided, or we don't. Simple as that.

He knows what we need. [obviously He thought I needed to do a lot of praying in that mega laundry room!]

He also knows what we don't need. [obviously not a huge kitchen]

So, we trust Him. We thank Him. Even for the small kitchens.

We must also guard our hearts and minds from anything that can steal our contentment. Be careful what your eyes see and lust after. Be careful what you scroll through on the internet. Be wise before using a search engine. Pray before logging in and logging on. Pray before perusing certain magazines. These things can strike a match of discontentment quick!

Let's be like Abraham. Willing to give to someone else the better piece because we know God will provide for us.

This verse will keep us on target and on track to contentment. Paul says it so beautifully here:

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13


folding laundry over here,

jill



Jan 12, 2016

When you don't know your purpose....

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Well, it is the 12th day of January and I have already fallen flat with one of my New Year's Resolutions. Shoot.

One of my resolutions was to write more. At least twice a week.

As of today, I have not written one post since January 1st. Shoot shoot shoot.

Anyone else out there need [another] fresh start? Raise your hand. I see you. [not really]

Writing is very personal. It takes a lot out of me sometimes because I spill it all out. Not leaving a morsel of wonder.

Really, in person it is the same. I just don't have as many opportunities [or the time] to spill it all on a daily basis. You're welcome. [my husband will beg to differ]

Have you noticed that the things we LOVE to do, the things that make our heart beat wildly in our chest...can be the most vulnerable part of us?

Here is what I mean...

I love to write. I love to teach. I love to encourage. I love to do bible studies. BUT.....

Often a small voice from the enemy says, "Really, another writer? Another bible study teacher? Don't you think the world has enough of these? Give it up. Nobody cares. There are a million others doing what you want to do. Give.it.up."

This voice in my head can be loud. And constant.

Many times I choose to believe this voice.

It is a choice. We either choose to believe a lie or choose to believe God's Truth over us.

I look around me and see many successful writers. Many captivating bible study teachers. How on this green earth could I ever make a difference?

And bam.

I shut off my computer. I shut off my dreams. I shut off the pounding of my heart.

Have you ever been there?

Have you had a God-given passion for something? You look around and see so many others so very good at what your heart desires to do that you want to throw in the towel?

I can so relate, friend.

How about we encourage each other.

Do you want to know the reason I turned on my computer today?

At bible study this morning, a precious friend named Connie, asked why I wasn't writing. She told me that she missed it.

You have NO idea how my heart soared when she said those words.

Just one little spark of encouragement drove me straight home to sit at my little breakfast-stained table and write.

Thank you, Connie.

Writing brings me to life. Talking about the Bible brings me to life. Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with other women pretty much sends me over the edge! My heart beats hard against my chest wall when I combine the two. It is the passion that God has put on my heart.

God has given you a passion too. What makes your heart beat wildly?

If you cannot think of anything at the moment, I have a suggestion to help you find it.

Throw yourself into God's Word. Throw yourself into Jesus Christ.

Jump headlong, face first and do not look back.

When He becomes our first Love, our one and only desire, suddenly His desires for us awaken.

Oh, y'all, I promise this is true.

In 2012, I began to read the word of God with all of you. A passion arose in my soul that had been dormant. It would flicker from time to time, but it took the Holy Spirit and the wisdom found in His Word to flame that fire into existence.

My desire for helping other women to know Christ and to write grew with each passing day.

My purpose began to come clear. The fire that arose from my heart shed light on the places in my heart that had long been hidden and covered.

Almost like a block of ice that slowly began to melt in my soul.

When we abide in Christ, our purpose becomes clear.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:4

He will daily, in small ways, lead us where He wants us. He will plant desires in our hearts that could only come from the One who created us.

You were made for a purpose.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. Acts 17:26

Read that scripture one more time.

God has appointed YOU for this time. For the place that you live. He has you right where He wants you!

Let's stop daydreaming of what "could be", and start living in the reality of "what IS!"

He has us here for a very specific purpose and calling.

You were made to be an integral part of God's story. Your name will be in the credits of this world's story when we get to heaven.

Will you accept His calling for you?

Friends, as we dive into Him and His Word and as He reveals His purpose to us, let us encourage each other!

There's not a person on this earth that does not need a word of encouragement! Encouragement breathes life into a weary heart. Just like Connie breathed life into me today.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Build someone up today. As you do, God Himself will breathe life and purpose into your heart.

You are here for such a time as this. Esther 4:14


*to help you dive into His Word, we have a reading plan. It's at the top of your cute little screen. See it? Click on it and it will take you to a two year bible reading site. So easy. And doable. My 14 and 11 year old are even doing it. So, you know it's cool. ;)

*for more encouragement and accountability, follow SHINE in Instagram. Every Monday I post a memory verse for the week. It is an easy way to hide God's Word in our hearts. Do it with a friend. Do it with your kids! Or hey, just do it with me! :)


finding my purpose,

jill

Jan 1, 2016

Katie Couric and me....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go Here.
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At the beginning of every New Year, I get butterflies in my stomach. I feel anxiety come on, and it makes me feel nauseous.

It all started about ten years ago.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My family and I were in Orlando. Everyone was out by the pool at our hotel except for me and my one year old baby. It was her morning naptime, so we had come back inside the hotel room.

She was sound asleep and I had turned on the television.

The Today Show was on, and I began watching it. It just so happened to be Katie Couric's last day on the show. I loved her! I had always loved every segment of hers because she just lit up the room.

They were replaying old segments of her with the saddest music ever. Before long I was crying my eyes out in that hotel room by myself.

She was so darn cute. And smart. And successful. And loved.

Everyone loved Katie Couric. Including me.

And, well, here I was. Alone in a hotel room. Baby food splattered on my shirt. Two day old hair that still had knots in it from riding rides at Disney. Surrounded by baby toys, pink princess floaties, diapers and wipes. Impressive.

I sappily watched Katie's brilliant life being played out on t.v., while my life looked like Loserville in comparison.

She was 49 years old when she left the Today Show.

At that time, I was 30, with not a glimpse of a chance at a life like hers.

I cried. And cried. And cried.

In that moment I made a vow that I would make something of myself. Anything but who I was. A stay at home mom with stained shirts was not the life I wanted anymore. I wanted to be like Katie Couric. I wanted to be loved. Adored. Cute. Spunky. Successful. And well, just more.

 Before I could even wipe my tears and blow my nose, I heard my daughter crying in the other room. Well, naptime was over.

Back to reality.

Back to Loserville.

A few months passed and the year was coming to an end. This was my chance. My chance to make something of myself I thought.

A NEW YEAR, a new me! Yay!

I sat my husband down and talked to him about all of my big plans for the "new me".

He patiently listened. And listened. And listened.

After I spilled my heart out to him that cold December day, all he had to say was this..."Aww, you are just fine the way you are. I love you and that is all that should matter."

Thud.

Not what I wanted to hear. At all.

Words of encouragement are not his thing. Obviously.

So, as the dawn of a new year was on the horizon, a sadness came across my heart. An anxious feeling that haunted me. A feeling that made me wonder if the end of the next year would bring the same boring scenario for my life....the same old me.

With each passing year since Katie left the Today show, I have felt this same feeling. The feeling that tells me that I am just not quite enough. I need to be more to really make a difference. To really be somebody.

However, this year is different.

Something changed.

Something has settled in my 40 year old heart.

40 is a very powerful and biblical number. Story after story from the Bible speaks about the number 40. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. The rain fell for 40 days on Noah's ark when the rain flooded the world. Jesus fasted for 40 days before His teaching ministry began.

There is something about 40 that brings change. Whether it's 40 days or 40 years.

This year has definitely brought a lot of change. A change in our family.  A change in our living situation. And many more changes.

A lot of change in one year.

As I prepared to write this post, I just kept thinking of Nehemiah. I love Nehemiah. He was a cupbearer for the King. Which literally means, he brought the King his cup of wine each day. Yet, God laid it on his heart to rebuild a wall around Jerusalem to protect the people. Nehemiah was so concerned about the people in Jerusalem. They were falling away from their faith and being destroyed by their enemies. He weeped, prayed and fasted for them night after night.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:4-7
 
Nehemiah led a pretty cozy life. He didn't have to leave the comforts of the King's palace to go help these people, yet, he did.

He ended up encouraging the people of Jerusalem and rebuilding the wall. It was an amazing feat! It only took them 52 days to rebuild it. 52 days!

The people were amazed. Their hearts quickly turned back to God because of  one's man courage, faith, and love for these people.

Here is what I find interesting about this story....

Nehemiah didn't build a whole new city from scratch...he just helped rebuild the wall.

Rebuilding the wall is all it took for restoration to take place and the people's heart to be restored back to God.

Nehemiah didn't have to have great skill, good looks, or much education to do this great work. He just had to hear God's voice, and have the boldness to go and do the job.

There are some areas in my life this year that need a little rebuilding. A little work to repair some of the breeches.

I don't need to find a whole new me to make a difference in this world. I just need to rebuild a few areas God has called me to work on. I just have to say YES to His plan and design for my life. Not for Katie Couric's life.

When we try to design our life like another's we end up having not being of much use in God's Kingdom. He designed each of us for very specific tasks. It is not up to us to decide that our tasks are not "enough". He is the Potter, we are the clay.

What needs a little rebuilding in your life this year?

Your marriage? Your prayer life? Your bible reading? Your friendships? Your finances? Your gifts and talents?

Whatever it is, go, and don't look back.

One of my very favorite passages from the book of Nehemiah is this, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." Nehemiah 6:3

The next time the enemy whispers in your precious ear that you are not "enough". Shoot this scripture right back at him with a fiery fervency..."I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."

You are enough.

Because God created you in His very own image. [Genesis 1:27]

Imagine that.

You shine the brightest when you are who He created you to be.

A little rebuilding, a little restoration. That's all we need.

Your greatest work has already begun. Before you were even born...

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
     Psalm 139:13-16


goodbye Katie Couric,


jill


Dec 30, 2015

Are you ready for this?

SHINE Reading Plan [begins January 1st]:Go Here.
Receive SHINE by email: Go Here.

Anyone else need a fresh start this year? Yeah, me too.

I don't just want to be more conscious of my eating, I want to be more intentional about my spiritual food. The Bread of God's Word. It will fill us up to overflowing with the nutrients we need desperately to survive. But, only if we eat it.

Of course, as with the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new year, I have some goals I want to work on.

This year I want to love audaciously.

Not just love, but love audaciously.

This word has been in my vocabulary for the last several months. I even shared it with several close friends.

Then, for Christmas, my friend Erin gives me Beth Moore's newest book...guess what it is called?

Audacious.

Yep, no kidding.

Think God is trying to tell me something?

This year I want to love better. Love like Christ. Love bigger. Love more.

Love audaciously. 

However, if I am to love others audaciously, I must love Jesus this way first. It is not possible for my flesh to love others well unless I am filled with the Love of Christ. Trust me, it just won't work.

Our love tank will always be low and sitting on empty if we are not filled up with the Love of Christ. Y'all know what I am talking about, don't you? It's that running on fumes kind of love. The kind that is short on patience, and long on irritability. Yep, that's the one.

Oh, but if we want to shine the Light of Christ into the darkness of this world, we MUST...we MUST...

Love others audaciously. 

How else will others tell us apart from the world?

How else will others see, really see, Jesus Christ?

We cannot love the world running on fumes. We just cannot.

If we are too dang tired to even love our very own people well, we definitely won't be loving the world well.

We get tired when we don't get spiritual nourishment.

We get tired when we listen to the demands of the world instead of the Gentle Voice of our Father.

We get tired when we follow the way of our flesh instead of the way of Christ.

Weariness leads to worldliness.

We must refuel.

We must.

Daily.

As much as we possibly can.

This world is getting darker by the minute. We cannot waste another precious day running on fumes and sitting on empty.

Someone in your path needs to be shown some audacious love.

Loving audaciously means loving the fire out of people that don' t even like you. Or, don't even notice you.

Whew. Did I strike a nerve? I think I may have struck my own funny bone. Ouch.

Loving audaciously means loving those that do not deserve an ounce of our love. Isn't that how Christ loves us?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Friend, we can know every scripture in the Word of God, quote every Billy Graham sermon, listen to Jesus music in our cars all the live long day. However, without LOVE, audacious LOVE, we won't make one inch of a mark on this world. Not a single solitary inch.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

We can read all the Christian books at Lifeway, go to church every single Sunday and serve on all the committees. But, if we are not loving people, we have gone desperately wrong. We may as well hang up our church clothes and stay at home.

Jesus was asked a question by a Pharisee one day as he was being grilled by the religious leaders. This particular Pharisee was an expert of the law. He wanted to trip Jesus up. He wanted Jesus to hang himself on his words. So, the Pharisee asked Jesus this, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?" Matthew 22:34-36

I can almost see the smirk on the Pharisee's face. Surely, he believed that whatever Jesus said would send the crowd into an uproar. He knew these people magnified certain laws above others, so whatever answer Jesus gave would mar the wisdom and validity of Jesus.

Hear the Words from a Man that could only be the Son of God...." Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40

Let me sum this up for us:

Love God audaciously.

Love others audaciously. 

The end.

In order to love God audaciously, we must know Him.

How can we get to know Him?

In His Word.

We are beginning a new reading plan starting January 1st .

It is a two year bible reading plan, which you can print out, download, bookmark on your phone...whatever is easiest for you.

Be intentional, friend.

Make a plan to love.

Love Him audaciously.

Love others audaciously.

Let's set this world on FIRE with LOVE.

Audacious love.



lighting the match,


jill