Apr 23, 2014

Dream Big.....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 35
Find the Reading Plan here.


I have an incredible post for you today from a woman who has seen first hand the power of God. The power to use the most "unlikely" of circumstances in order to fulfill God's plan for her beautiful life. With this plan, blessing many others along the way.

Her story brings me to tears every time I hear it.

Be blessed by Terri Webster's story today.

 
The Dream
by: Terri Webster
 
Dear Shine Sisters,


To be writing this post is surreal. One day, a long time ago, 21 years to be exact, God lit a flicker of an idea in my head. It’s like He took a match stick, struck it across the side of a matchbox, lit the flame in my head, and then, as it flickered in various directions, He protected it as life’s wind threatened to blow it out.


I was single with two kids. Divorced, damaged, hurt and exhausted. I put up a pretty good front, with my various “I’m fine” masks. Not with my younger brother though. The Christmas of ’92, my brother gave my children and me a trip to Disney World for our present. There was one condition though; he had to drive us there. We lived in Conyers, Georgia, which was a day’s drive away. How tricky of him, huh? The gift was ours as long as he could go and drive us himself. Of course, he knew my car would never make it to the Georgia-Florida border, much less to Orlando, and back again.


So the following spring (right at this time of year), the four of us piled into his hatchback Ford Escort and set out for our Magic Kingdom adventure. When I first caught sight of the Magic Kingdom castle, the little girl in me came alive, along with my then six-year old daughter. My exhaustion was transformed. I felt young again, refreshed, relieved and excited. To experience this with my kids was priceless.


The resort where we stayed had a huge pool with a nice wood-framed out-building next to it. A wrap-around, covered porch-type decking surrounded the building and had rocking chairs lined up on one side of the porch. On the other side of the building was a sandy play ground with lots of big playground equipment. My son (then 12), was enjoying the pool while my daughter freely played in the playground area. I sat in the middle on that shady, covered porch in a rocking chair.


From that rocking chair I could see both of them and hear them as we talked back and forth. I rested, rocked and soaked in the calm, peaceful, easy feeling (sounds like a song), that was foreign to me during those days. My mind wandered as I thought about a few other single-moms I knew and how they too were struggling and exhausted. We’d shared our frustrations of broken-down cars, home repairs, trying to discipline our children without support from our ex-spouses, and the need for better paying jobs, coupled with wanting to go back to school so we could get that better job.


I felt a twinge of guilt as I sat there soaking in all the beauty of the resort, relaxing and having fun. I remember whispering to the Lord about how I wish every single mom could experience this type of calm and peace.  Suddenly, as I sat there, a thought rushed over me out of nowhere. I envisioned other single moms sitting in the other rockers, while their children played. I thought about the conversations that would take place about future plans, college, better jobs, healing and support.


That thought snowballed into the idea of a place where single moms could live temporarily and find the right kind of help as they are renewed and restored while they work on their futures. Instead of floundering through their lives in survival mode (as I was doing), I thought there needed to be a place to go to for help, guidance, resources and relief, to become more stable and secure. The idea grew into a dream I felt was too far-fetched. Eventually life took over again as I continued in survival mode for the next 13 years.


During those 13 years that dream would resurface, only to die back down again. I finally laid it to rest after I remarried and settled into my comfortable new life learning to be a wife again. I wanted to finally leave those years behind me and move forward.


Almost 16 years after that first thought flickered in my mind at Disney World, God broad-sided me with unexpected open doors to bringing that dream to reality. I wasn’t looking for it, thinking about it or even wanting it. From my comfortable, cozy chair in the corner of my bedroom I tried to convince God that I was too old and tired to take on a ministry like this. What if I failed? I’m not educated and knowledgeable in all things non-profit and incorporated. Then in the sweet, loving way God does, He reminded me it wasn’t about me. It was His idea to begin with, His thought, His dream, His plan.


The Lord God Almighty opened those doors and because of that, Spring Ministries exists today to help rebuild, restore and strengthen single parent families through Christ’s love and practical helps. Spring stands for Single Parents Rooted in New Ground.


A lot of you have already been to the Kindle House which will eventually be home to three single-mom families. You’ve seen the big, covered wrap-around decking that borders the entire house. I know that soon the wooden rockers will line the covered deck where single moms will sit and plan their futures while their children play safely. They’ll grow closer to Jesus as they witness His love through practical needs being met.


This is too big for us, but not Him. There are other ministries very similar to this one that are meeting needs and changing lives. This is God’s heart and His desire. These non-profit ministries are doing what our government is failing to do.


This is why writing to you today is so surreal. It’s happening despite all my fear, doubts and personal issues. On May 4th, Spring Ministries will have our first tea party/silent auction fundraiser at the Kindle House. Big events like this are not my “thing”. Can I be honest with y’all? Really honest? These events scare me to pieces. The planning, the work, the publicizing and wondering how it’ll turn out have freaked me out. But the truth is the outcome falls solely on God as He is the one in control.


If you’re wondering what you might can do to help, we (I) could really use your prayers. Also, you can plan to come to the tea/silent auction and bring a friend, spread the word, invite people. Come and see for yourself the future home to three single-mom families. Come see what God has done and is doing.


For more information on the event and to get your $10 ticket for the luncheon go here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spring-ministries-tea-partysilent-auction-tickets-10562385379.


One other thing: If you’ve ever had an idea, a little thought or a dream about God taking the bad things in your life and turning them into ministry, that’s probably His idea, His thought and His dream that He wants to plant inside your very smart head. Another sure sign is that it’s something too big for you to accomplish on your own. That’s how He wins and the devil loses. That’s how God takes what is meant for evil in our lives and turns it all around for His purposes!


Dreaming big,
Terri

Apr 21, 2014

Help me to believe.....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 31:27-40
Find the Reading plan here.


This past Easter weekend, I had a heart check.

 As I envisioned the disciples after the death of Jesus on the cross that Friday, I wondered where their faith was.

What was it like for them, the men who had spent countless hours with Jesus, witnessing the many miracles performed.

What was going through their minds?

Were they hopeless? Did they feel duped?

For some reason, I don't ponder on the women that were left behind. I can't help but to think that they "knew" He would return. Maybe I am wrong, but God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus because of her faith, her belief. Although I believe she was devastated because of the torture, I think she knew this was not the end.

However, the disciples often struggled with their faith. Even though they saw with their very own eyes, the Messiah, Jesus, in human form. They, like us, had some belief issues.

Herein lies my heart check.

If I were one of the disciples, would I have still believed after watching Jesus die?

Those 3 days of waiting must have been excruciating for those left behind. If you have ever waited on anything, you know what I am talking about. Waiting is hard. Waiting is the worst. Waiting can cause the most hopeful to question their hope.

We know how this story ends. Jesus returns, Jesus lives. He revealed Himself to the disciples. Their faith, if wavering, was renewed.

The disciples all went on to preach the gospel of Jesus. Many of them dying for Him as they preached.

People don't die for something they do not believe. They believed. Until the very end.

I think, if we are honest, we can all struggle with seasons of unbelief. Maybe not unbelief in Jesus, but unbelief in changes in our circumstances. Or unbelief that Jesus will change those around us that we have been praying for forever it seems.

We can get weary in unbelief. When this happens, we lose hope. We lose faith.

Girls, I know how this feels. I have bee there, very recently.

In these seasons of unbelief, God has taught me something HUGE.

I want to share it with you.

God led me to the story in Mark of a father who asks Jesus to heal his son from demon possession.

I will include the passage, instead of paraphrasing. I really wanted to put this passage in a video blog for you to hear out loud. However, my hair is a mess, and my face is a little scary this morning due to just waking up. So, I will spare you. This time. ;)

Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit

1When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, This kind can come out only by prayer."

Are you amazed by this?

I am too.

Through this passage, God has taught me to ask Him to help me when I am struggling with unbelief...of any kind.

If I just pull away from Him, withdraw, and quit believing He can do anything in a certain situation, nothing changes. Ever.

However, when I go to Him in prayer, and boldly ask Him to "help me with my unbelief!", He answers every time.

Let me repeat, He answers every single time.

I am not saying that He always answers my specific request that has caused my heart to turn to unbelief, but He fills me with belief and with faith. Without fail.

God desires us to believe Him. He desires us to trust Him.

He desires us to come to Him in prayer (see vs. 29 above).

Now, I can look back on seasons of unbelief in my life and rest in the fact that He showed up. He filled my heart with belief and with faith.

When I come to that season again, I will once again ask Him...."Lord, help me with my unbelief".

What are you struggling with believing Him for today?

Will you be bold enough to go to Him prayerfully and ask Him to help you with your unbelief?

Our Memory Verse for this week:

"Everything is possible for one who believes." Mark 9:23

I now see this verse like this, "Jill, everything is possible if you just believe Me."

Girls, He desires a believing heart. He wants to show you great and unsearchable things.

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3


I am praying unceasingly for your belief to be renewed and strengthened.


no more unbelief,


jill

Apr 18, 2014

Unlikely is His specialty....

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 27-28
Find the Reading Plan here.


Last night, I did something for the first time ever.

I sat among 3 of my precious friends, and took communion, in the basement of one of the girls homes.  I have only taken communion in a church, up until last night.

We broke the bread, which represents the body of Christ. We drank the juice, which represents His blood that was shed for our sins.

Words cannot express the beauty of communion in the basement of a home, surrounded by 3 of my closest friends.

Dressed in yoga pants and pajamas, we worshipped our Lord. We talked about the Last Supper that Jesus had with His disciples. We talked about Jesus, shortly after the Supper, being in the Garden of Gethsemane sweating drops of blood.

"And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drips of blood falling to the ground." Luke 22:44

We sat in amazement of what Jesus did for us on that cross. The agony, the horrific scene that took place at "The Place of the Skull--Golgotha".

Perhaps, this was the most holy communion that I have ever partaken. Holy because we were in a basement. In our pajamas, minimal make-up, just our common everyday selves.

Holy because we don't have to be dressed up, in a church, sitting up straight and reverent, to partake in communion with our Savior.

He takes us just the way we are. Flawed. Sinful. Lost. Messy. Wandering. Struggling. Anxious. Worrisome. Fearful. Angry. Sad.

Jesus came for the lost. The sinners. The hopeless.

"Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners." Mark 2:17

That's music to this former sin-dwellers ears.

My eyes overflow with pools of tears as I envision Him coming to save the lost. Not the "the together", "the found", " the religious"....but the lost.

We will be doubtful at times. We will be faithless at times. We will be hopeless at times.

That's when we draw near to Him, and conform to His Holy bosom.

Even the men who were with Jesus as He performed miracles, wavered at times. They doubted at times. They denied Him at times. They betrayed Him at times.

However, Jesus always accepted them right back. He never stopped loving them. He never stopped accepting them. He never stopped using them in big and mighty ways to spread the gospel.

Why is that hard for us to imagine?

Why do we think His death was not enough for our sins?

Isn't that a bit prideful of us to think that?

Jesus died for us. He paid the ultimate price for our sins.

Our sin debt was no greater or less than any others.

I find great comfort in this.

We must quit thinking of our weaknesses, and focus on His Strength.

His Power equips us to do the unimaginable. Regardless of our past or history.

God loves using a shady past to show His Mercy, His Power and His Grace. The Bible is full of men and women, the most unlikely, that He used in HUGE and mighty ways.

Rahab-a prostitute who in in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ.
Esther-a Jew, an orphan, a nobody. she became queen and by her great courage saved many of the Jewish people from destruction.
Peter-denied Jesus 3 times and had major trust issues with Jesus. yet God used unstable and unreliable
Peter as a "rock" to start His church.
David-small, young, overlooked shepherd. slayed Goliath with a sling and a stone. became a great and mighty king.
Mary-a very young, meek, virgin. chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb.

See what I mean?

What makes Him incapable of using you? Absolutely nothing.

When we get caught up in believing in our weaknesses, we miss the great opportunity to believe in His strength.

"My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

As we remember this day, Christ's death on the cross, let's be strengthened by His suffering. Let's cling to His promises of Hope, Deliverance, and Power that we know He delivered just 3 days later.

He died so that we wouldn't have to. He died so that we could live in eternity with He and the Father.

Your Fun Friday Challenge:

Figure out what weakness is holding you back from fulfilling His divine plan in your life. What makes you so "unlikely" to be used? Turn it around and write how He can use it or is using it to further His Kingdom in your precious life.

I will give you an example:

Jill--a fearful, insecure,  scared of her own shadow girl--chosen by God to show courage and boldness in feeding His sheep the Word of God.

{which she, by the way, is still a major work in progress!}

Your turn.

{your name}--a beautiful, yet_____________   girl chosen by God to____________________.

You know I will be dying to hear your responses to this!

Please email me {shinegirlsshine@gmail.com} your responses if you feel like sharing . I would love nothing more than to share in this victory of God's strength and power within you!

He uses the unlikely, every single time.

Praise Jesus.


Have a joyous Easter, dear friends. May His Joy, Power, and Strength fill every crevice in your heart.



He is Risen,

jill

Apr 16, 2014

Hunger Pangs.....

Today's Reading: Matthew 28:1-20 
Find the Reading plan here.


We have a winner of that beautiful bracelet that Kim Jaynes donated last week! My daughter, Presley, drew the name last night from a bowl. So, blame her not me. ;)

Nicole, from Osteen, Florida is our winner!

Nicole, you will LOVE this bracelet! I cannot wait to send it to you. What a perfect Easter gift! Please email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com and I will mail you the bracelet. Congratulations!

As we finish the book of Matthew today, I am a little sad about moving on. I have treasured our reading about Jesus and His final days on Earth.

Have you found this week to be especially sacred and holy? Besides the obvious of this being Holy Week, the week of Easter, our reading has been in alignment with this monumental week. Only God could have arranged such perfect timing for our reading. Isn't He amazing?

If you had a chance to listen to the video I posted on Monday, you heard about the emotions I have been experiencing this week. Each day as we approach Easter, I grow more and more in love with Jesus. My heart feels like it will explode out of my chest as I pray to Him and thank Him for dying for me, for loving me, for saving me.

Sometimes I think the more drawn to sin our flesh tends to be, the more grateful we are for the One who saved us from the death of sin. My flesh is just as drawn to sin as anyone. However, due to this conflict of the flesh, my spirit pants all the more for Jesus.

When you have tasted even a morsel of the Living Water of Christ, there is nothing that you crave more. This craving can get skewed when neglected. We turn to other things, other people to fill this craving.

We often forget the true and wholesome fulfillment that comes from the One thing our soul needs....Jesus Christ.

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Last week I was having a conversation with a friend about something that the Lord has taught me over the past couple of years.

He has taught me that when I starve the flesh, I feed the spirit.

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." Romans 13:14

Meaning, when I have a sin issue going on, I have to choose to starve it to death. Each day I neglect that sin, by starving it, my spirit is fed by the nourishment of Christ.

Many times, when this happens, we have physical and emotional symptoms of this flesh starvation. We must make sure to not attach ourselves to another sin as we starve one. We can get sad, irritated, lonely, depressed, angry....as the flesh/sin is starved.

These symptoms are very temporary. The final result of the death of that sin will be an overflow of peace and joy in our spirit!

God will fill us to the brim and overflowing when we feed on the Word, and spend time in His Presence in prayer. It's just as simple as that.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Jesus knows all too well the temptations of the flesh and of this world. That's precisely why He died the ultimate death, taking our sins on the cross, and dying for our redemption.

He redeemed us on the cross. He carried every one of our sins. As His body was being crucified on the cross, His flesh was starved and ravished. However His Spirit was awaiting the ultimate Feast.

The Feast of Everlasting Life for all who will believe in Him.

Jesus starved the flesh, and fed on the Spirit of the Living God.

Why would we ever want to hang on to those sins that Jesus died for?

Starve them.

Feed your spirit.

"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" Isaiah 12:3

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-29



hungry for Him,


jill





Apr 14, 2014

Got God in a Box?

Today's Reading: Matthew 27:32-50
Find the Reading Plan here.

I'll get straight to the point. This week is HUGE in our Christian faith. HUGE.

The foundation of our faith lies on the events that took place this week over 2000  years ago.

I've included a Vlog in this post explaining to you a little about the significance of this Easter week. If you have a minute or two, take a listen. :)



As I ponder the events leading to Jesus' death on the cross this upcoming Friday, I just cannot help but to think of the power of the cross. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior three days after our death.

There are no words, even for a writer. Just emotions. Tears, and lots of emotions.

Our Memory verse expresses the Power of Jesus. The Great and Wonderful mystery of His Power at work within us.

Monday Memory Verse:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" Ephesians 3:20

Last week, as I prayed some very bold prayers to the Lord, this verse filled my heart over and over. So much so that I even wrote it on my bathroom mirror in big, bold, blue letters.

I think we tend to forget the power of God. We forget that He shatters what we can even think or imagine.

We box Him into this little box that we can "relate" to or understand in our human thinking.

This is where we are wrong.

God is bigger than that box. God is bigger than this world. God is bigger than our little minds have the capacity to even understand.

We forget that He can do anything. Anything. So, we often do not ask. We often just ask Him for things that make sense or things that are logical.

I challenge us to go beyond the logical. To go beyond what makes sense to us.

I challenge us to pray BIG BOLD POWERFUL prayers of faith!

What do we have to lose? Not one thing. Oh, but what do we have to gain?

Everything.

The Lord loves when we call on Him to do big things. He loves when we express our trust and belief in Him in this way. It has taken me a long time to understand this.

What is it that you need God to do "immeasurably more" in your precious life?

Will you just ask Him? Will you just spill your heart to Him?

If you have boxed God into this little space that makes sense, break open that box and let His Power flow freely! Ask Him to do "immeasurably more" and trust Him to do it.

It doesn't make us crazy or fanatical, it just makes us faithful in His Promises. He's not a genie that we "wish" upon, but He is our Rock that we stand upon. We stand on His Promises. Even when they don't make sense at the time or line up the way we envisioned. You can know that His will is far greater than our expectations. Every single time.

If we serve a God that raises the dead to life, don't you think He is capable of working out some details in your sweet life? Don't you think He can do immeasurably more than you ever dreamed?

Trust Him, girls.

Take Him out of the box, and let Him have free reign in your life.

Be prepared to be in awe.


immeasurably more in love with Him,


jill


Apr 11, 2014

Fun Friday Give-away!!!

Today's Reading: Matthew 26:57-75 
Find the Reading Plan here.

Two things you need to know this Friday morning. Yes, just two.

First, I want YOU to participate in our annual Madison in May 5K.

So, you haven't ever been in a 5K, you say?

Great reason to check that off of your bucket list!

Walking or running or crawling (your choice), surrounded by your SHINE girlfriends...is there a better way to do a 5K? I didn't think so. ;)

Here is the link. Go, register. Bring the family. Wear YELLOW if possible! We want to SHINE together! (and plus, I just really, really love yellow) :)

Let me know if you plan on attending. Bring your friends, your enemies (just kidding), your family, your bible study group, your co-workers, whoever! Just come! The route is beautiful! If you have never been to Madison, Ga...you need to come. Plus, I really want to meet more of you!!! (selfish, I know)

We will take a lot of pictures, so you need to be in them!  (Be there by 7:00 am if possible, race starts at 7:30)

Okay, second thing...

Are you ready for this?

OOOH, I can hardly contain myself!

We have a SHINE Girls Give-away!

My super incredible friend, Kim Jaynes, donated this beautiful prize!

Want to see it??
The verse written on the bracelet is our Memory verse from this week....
Jeremiah 29:11.
Yes, I know. It's awesome!
(that's Kim's beautiful hair-less wrist)

My really greedy fleshy stingy side wanted to keep it. I decided I better not. You know, since it has a scripture on it and all. ;)

Here is how you can win this beautiful bracelet to show the world on your darling little wrist....

Tell us what you LOVE about Spring!

It can be one word, one sentence, a paragraph...whatever! Make sure to leave your name so that I can contact you if you are the winner! I will draw the name some time this weekend.

Here is mine for example: I love the warm air and the blooming of flowers all around! Jill Hill

I don't usually leave the comment section open due to spam overload,  but I will on this post. If you have trouble leaving a comment, email me at shinegirlsshine at gmail dot com.

So, what's your Fun Friday Challenge you ask?

Register for the Madison in May 5K, and comment below to win this prize!

My Friday is now complete. A 5K with my girls, and a cool bracelet to give away. Ahh. Welcome Spring!


finding my yellow shirt for the race,


jill




Apr 9, 2014

He Loves Me Anyway.....

Today's Reading: Matthew 26:17-29
Find the Reading Plan here. 


"No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39


My mind has been so fixated on our reading in Matthew this week.

As I watched my daughter play soccer, as I sat down to eat dinner, as I got myself ready for bed....I just kept thinking of Jesus and the Last Supper with His disciples.

The one thing that keeps my mind spinning is the part about Judas, the one who would betray Jesus.

Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover Meal together, prayed together, and Jesus washed their feet.

"After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." John 13:5

Jesus knew that Judas was planning to betray Him and hand Him over to be killed, yet Jesus served Judas and loved him anyway.

This is the part that I have such a hard time wrapping my mind around. Jesus foreknew of Judas' betrayal, yet, Jesus still loved and washed his enemy's feet.

Judas betrayed Jesus for a mere $25 bucks or so.

Even typing this, my stomach is knotting up.

How did Jesus love Judas knowing this? Not just love Judas, but washed his stinkin' feet!

Think about it this way: Imagine your greatest betrayal. Imagine the heartbreak involved. Now, imagine that God let you know before the incident took place. Imagine you had foreknowledge that you would be deeply hurt or betrayed.

Would that change the way you felt or acted toward the betrayer?

Sadly, I think the answer would be yes for me.

When I think about the many times I have turned away from Jesus, for something the world had to offer that was tempting at the time, I shudder.

Certainly, I too, have betrayed Jesus at some time or another.

I remember one specific time in college when someone asked about my faith. The answer I gave them makes my heart sink today as I think back. I have asked the Lord for forgiveness, and He has forgiven me.

However, I knew better even then. I was a Christian.

My heart was not yet fully surrendered to Christ at that time. I believed in Him, but I did not activate my faith. I kept it often hidden, and used it for desperate times and desperate measures. I called on God when I needed Him, and then quickly forgot Him again.

Oh, this is so painfully honest.

Certainly I have betrayed Jesus for less than Judas did at varying times in my life.....

pride
greed
self-indulgence
lust
arrogance
unbelief
idols


Just to name a few.

The good news is, Jesus knew I would. Just like He knew Judas would betray Him.

Judas' betrayal, my betrayal, all of our betrayals, He foreknew.

And, He loved us anyway.

Not just loved us, but died for us.

I look back on my life, and see the times that Jesus washed my feet, served me, loved me, cared for me, protected me.....when certainly He knew I would betray Him for the surrender to my flesh in the days or years to come.

It sure didn't stop Him from loving me. Or dying for me. And you.

Is your precious heart as overwhelmed as mine is today?

Girls, it's so hard to understand this kind of unconditional love that He has for us. I think it would blow the hair right off our heads if we were able to truly understand the depth of His love for us. Even knowing that we will mess up. Even knowing that we will turn away from Him at times.

Yet, He loves us anyway.

That part never changes. Ever.

No matter the depth of our depravity, He's always been our biggest fan. He's always got the warm water ready to wash off the dirt we have climbed into.

Not only that, but He has a future, a plan, a great purpose for our lives!

Remember our memory verse? 

"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

There is a song that plays on the radio. Every time I hear it, I cry uncontrollably. I mean, ugly cry.

I want you to read the words. I want you to know how much the Father loves you. I want you to rest in that place of Love, Acceptance and Peace today.

Here's the Youtube link if you want to listen. Grab your Kleenex box. You have been warned. :)

"You Love Me Anyway"
by Sidewalk Prophets

The question was raised
As my conscience fell
A silly, little lie
It didn’t mean much
But it lingers still
In the corners of my mind

Still you call me to walk
On the edge of this world
To spread my dreams and fly
But the future’s so far
My heart is so frail
I think I’d rather stay inside

[Chorus:]
But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how You love me
How You love me

It took more than my strength
To simply be still
To seek but never find
All the reasons we change
The reasons I doubt
And why do loved ones have to die?

[Chorus:]
But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how You love me

[Bridge:]
I am a thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway

See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with the smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

[Chorus:]
But You love me anyway
Oh, God, how you love me
Yes, You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how You love me
Yes, You love me,
Yes, You love me
Yes, You love me,
Yes, You love me
How You love me
How You love me
How You love me





basking in His love,


jill













Apr 7, 2014

Turn around....

Today's Reading: Matthew 25:14-46 
Find the Reading Plan here.

Some days I feel so confident in what the Lord is doing in my life. Those days are easy and light. I like those days.

However, some days I am not sure what God is doing. I am not sure where He is leading me. I get confused and ask Him to help me trust Him.

Can you relate?

In those moments of lack of clarity and understanding, I did deep in His Word. I draw as close to Him as I possibly can and ride out those feelings of shakiness and confusion.

It hasn't always been this way.

In the past, when these "doubtful" feelings would come, I would run from God. I would stop praying, stop reading His Word, and go anywhere except where He was. It was like I was mad at Him and running was my way of punishing Him.

Really, it was the opposite. Running from Him was only hurting me, and delaying my eventual return back into His big, safe, trusting arms.

Those days that my flesh wants to run far away,  I now have learned to deeply abide in Him. There is no safer place to be.

Our memory verse for this week is one of those verses that I cling to in times of doubt or lack of understanding.

Our Monday Memory Verse:

"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

Wherever you are today on your faith journey, I pray you will know and believe that God has a hope and a future for you. More hope and future than you can ever wrap your pretty little mind around.

If you have been running from the Lord, turn back around. Run right back into your Father's big and open arms. There's no better place to be.


no more running,


jill