Sep 30, 2013

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the week of 9/30-10/6:


  • Monday 9/30: 1 Kings 8:12-66
  • Tuesday 10/1: 1 Kings 9:1-10:13
  • Wednesday 10/2: 1 Kings 10:14-11:43
  • Thursday 10/3: 1 Kings 12:1-32
  • Friday 10/4: 1 Kings 12:33-13:34
  • Saturday 10/5: 1 Kings 14
  • Sunday 10/6: 1 Kings 15:1-16

Happy Monday, SHINE girls! Sure hope your weekend was lovely. The weather was perfect around these parts. Fall is definitely in the air!

I'm just going to get straight to our Memory Verse for this week....are you ready?

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




This verse, I have already memorized. Only because God has showed it to me time and time again over the past couple of years. He obviously wants me to get this.
If the words coming out of our mouths are not pleasing, then you can bet your cute little pink lip gloss that our heart is severely lacking in pleasantness.

Or, maybe we are good at disguising our words, making them sound pretty. However, our hearts are far from matching the sugar-coated words.

The Lord knows if our words match the intentions of our hearts. He always knows. 


"You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    You perceive my thoughts from afar."
Psalm 139:1-2


My children and I have a little something we say about our hearts.

When they were really little, I would tell them that sometimes weeds would grow in our hearts. However, they were the only ones that could see the weeds. Only them and God. 

I told them that we cannot let those weeds keep growing. We must ask God to forgive us, and then He will pull up those weeds. Then, when the weeds are all pulled up, roses will grow in their heart.

We are still pulling weeds. Me, Lem, and my children. Daily. 

The weeds will grow, but they do not have to multiply.

My children come to me often to  tell me that they need God to pull some weeds from their little hearts. I usually tell him that I had some weeds pulled earlier in the day, and that God is just waiting there with His weed-puller. 

After we pray, the roses bloom. Instantly.

Are their weeds in your heart today?

If so, it's okay. God is just waiting to remove them.

Your heart will soon be growing a garden of beautiful flowers. 

We just have to ask The Gardener to remove those weeds, so the garden can flourish.


still pulling weeds,

jill


Sep 27, 2013

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 5

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls!

Okay, our week of Love is coming to an end. However, it is really just the beginning.

I pray that God has been speaking to all of us, and He is showing us some areas that could use a little Love scrub. ;)

One day this week, I woke up just feeling really heavy. I needed some refreshment from His Word immediately. My heart was not in the right place about something happening in my little world.

He led me straight to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

 Yep. Sound familiar?

Our memory verse is tucked inside those verses. What a surprise. :)

Here is what He showed me:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 Love never fails. 
 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

The Lord made me see these verses in a new way.

In a personal way. Once again.

About a year ago, we all inserted our names in every sentence that begins with "Love". It was powerful.

The Lord was telling me to do this again. Right in that moment.

I obeyed.

A small note card was tucked in my bible, so I pulled it out, grabbed a pen, and started writing. 

Jill is patient, Jill is kind. Jill does not envy, Jill does not boast, and is not proud. Jill does not dishonor others, or she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, and she keeps no record of wrongs. Jill does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Jill always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Jill never fails.

Whew!!!

See what I mean? The verse kind of pops into life when I read it like this!

I want to be this way. I want to overflow this kind of Love every single day.

How is this possible?

Filling ourselves with His Word, His Love, His Truth....daily. Not just when our love tank is way empty, and has been for months, years, and even decades.

Do you hear me? Daily.

I challenged my Wednesday night small group this week to make this verse personal in their lives as well. I gave them a note card and told them to go home, and fill in their names in the scripture, just as I had done.

Guess what? 

I want you to do the same.

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Grab a note card, or small piece of paper. Grab a pen. 

Write your precious little name in this scripture, just as I have done above.

Read it after you write it.

Powerful, huh?

Now, hang onto it. Put it somewhere you can easily find it. 

When your love tank is getting low, when your flesh is screaming in agony....go to this verse. Actually, say it before it gets close to being empty. Just go ahead and keep that pretty little tank all filled up.

Say it out loud until the Peace comes. Oh, and it will.

You cannot recite God's Word, and not be changed. It is impossible.

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
 Colossians 3:14

Do you see what it says? Yes, I highlighted it. "Put on love".

This is an action.

Not a feeling.

Let's be clear on this.


Father, change our hearts. Let us not be controlled by fickle feelings. We are strong in Christ. Daughters of the Most High King. We will put on Love. Every day. Turning only to You to be filled. The world cannot fill us, oh, but you can. Let us be known for our Love. In Jesus name, amen.


putting on love,

jill


Sep 26, 2013

Thursday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 3, 4

Happy Thursday, sweet girls!

Today, Lem and I celebrate 15 years of marriage. {how can this be?}

Just a few thoughts on the subject.....

Our marriage is not perfect. In fact, it is far from it.

I am not always in a good mood. {neither is he.}

I am not always cheery. {neither is he}

Some days are hard. Well, many days actually.

My temper and my tongue go haywire at times. {still working on this one}

He has better control over this than I do. {shoot}

If I am honest, I will tell you that marriage is not easy. It teaches me to be a giver, and not always a taker.

I've discovered that when I give, and not always demand my own way, he tends to be more of a giver.

Sounds crazy, right?

My body is not the same, my face is not the same {it has a lot more lines}. However, Lem accepts me and loves me and makes me feel the same.

I have tried to change him, to mold him, to create the "husband" I think he should be.

This does not work.

Let me repeat: This does not work.

When I learned to approach this "without words", as 1 Peter 3:1 tells us, things started changing.

When I learned to quit nagging, persisting, insisting, and demanding he change....

His ears could finally hear the Holy Spirit.

The clanging in his ears from my voice was preventing the Holy Spirit's Voice from being heard.

I thought I was doing the right thing all of those years...

When, in fact, I just had to trust the Lord with him. I had to learn to realize that God loves Lem more than me. I had to realize that God could change him, but I could not.

The biggest revelation was that I was the one in need of change. {say what?!}

My heart was in the wrong place. Always demanding, expecting, and not content unless he was doing what I wanted him to do.

I wanted him to do a bible study, he did not want to.

I wanted to be more involved in church, he did not want to.

I wanted to make him have quiet time with me, he did not want to.

I wanted him to read the bible with me, he did not want to.

I wanted him to quit drinking alcohol, he did not want to.

I wanted him to be like some of my friends godly husbands {and I even told him that many times}, he did not want to.

Notice the first word in each of the above sentences??

Yes, I. Me, myself, and I.

When I let go of my expectations, and focused on my own walk, my own relationship with Christ....

Something incredible happened.

My heart softened. My heart changed.

Not only that, but the icing on the cake was that Lem started to change.

God began to draw us closer, when I stepped back and let the Lord do His thing.

Who knew??

As women, we like to have control over things. We like to tie things up in a pretty little ribbon just the way we like them.

However, what He is showing me....

Is that when I let go. Give Him complete control. Surrender.....

All of those things I try to super glue together.... fall apart.

And the most glorious thing happens....

He turns that mess into a masterpiece.

He sees the act of surrender and obedience, and then He is able to do His Will. His Thing. His Perfect Plan begins to take place.

If you are in a marriage today that is struggling for air, on the brink of separation, in dire need of refreshing....

I encourage you to give it to Him.

Forget about trying in your own power to change things. It doesn't work. Never has and never will.

Surrender that marriage to the Lord. It's His to begin with anyway, right?

I also encourage you to be the change you want for him.

Yes, YOU be the change.

What do you want from your husband?

Be what you want him to be. Be consistent. Don't do it to force a change in him, do it because that's what God calls you to do.

This has nothing to do with your man. This has everything to do with Jesus Christ. Honoring Him. Period.

"Love never fails", my friends.

It will always be the right way.

I will still struggle with my expectations. I will still struggle with demanding my way.

However, I now know that nothing will change, unless I change.

Let me remember this, Father. Help us all to remember.

"We can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will." 1 John 5:14

"Ask anything in My name, and I will do it." John 14:14

"Call upon me and I will answer you" Jeremiah 33:3

"Above all else, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" 1 Peter 5:5


Father, soften our hearts. Help us to not be demanding, selfish, and self-focused in our marriage. Show us how to love without conditions and expectations. The kind of Love that You show us. Help us to put our men first, above all others, except You Lord. Give us the desire to be a better spouse. Give us the desire to be a giver, and not a taker. We ask that you weed out pride, and replace it with humility. Praise You, Father. You want our marriages rock solid, Father. Mend our hearts, repair the breeches, and nurse us back to health in these areas. Forgive us for not showing love. Forgive us for anything we have put before our marriages. Fall fresh on us today, Holy Spirit. We receive.



putting the super-glue away,


jill

Sep 25, 2013

Wednesday SHINE...

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 2

Happy Worship Wednesday, sweet SHINE girls!

So, our memory verse is about Love this week. "Love Never Fails." 1 Corinthians 13:8

Not our kind of flesh-fickle-finicky love....but the kind of Love that can only be given because it has first been given to us.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." John 4:10

As I try to wrap my little brain around this concept, I am struck by the magnitude of this kind of Love.

For example:
  •  Love covers a multitude of sins.{1 Peter 4:8}
  •  Love comes from God {1 John 4:7}
  •  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. {1 John 4:8}
  •  Love does no harm to its neighbor{Romans 13:10}
Do I deserve this kind of Love?

No.

Do I want to receive this kind of Love?

Yes.

Do I always extend this kind of Love?

Yikes, not always.

Why is this?

I don't know.

I saw a sign at a church recently that said: The Loved Love. The Forgiven Forgive.

Wow. Now, that's powerful.

Many times, I have not shown love, and I have not shown forgiveness. In those times, I have a severe peace drought. Like major.

Stress, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, frustration, and much more. 

After much begging and pleading, and finally scripture reading....He showed me the problem.

It was my heart. A heart that was withholding love. A heart that was bottling up the Love that HE had poured into me, and hogging it all to myself.

Well, that got me nowhere. It just made me miserable, bitter, and all puffed up inside.

His Love is made to be poured out. To all around us.

Not just the ones that love us back. 

" If you love only those who love you, what good is that? 
Even scoundrels do that much. 
 If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?
 Even the heathens do that.
  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
 Matthew 5:46-48


If we are not pouring out His Love, we are stagnant. Unusable. Molding from the inside out. 

We were made to pour out, so that He can keep pouring in. 

You and I are colanders. When He pours the water in, it should sprinkle out to all around us.

When our holes get closed up from hurt, anger, bitterness, rejection.....nobody gets sprinkled. Not even us. We rot. We mildew. We expire. 

However, when we open those holes back up....oh, get your umbrellas! A sprinkling is taking place! 

Everyone around us will get watered. What an incredible sight.

Lord, help us to pour out Love. Help us to pour out forgiveness. This is Your design. This is Your plan for us. We long to sprinkle Your Love and Goodness to all in our path. Unclog any holes that have filled up, so we can pour Your Love straight through to others. Thank You for the gift of Your Love! We receive it, we accept it, and we pass it right on to others. 

unclogging,

jill


Sep 23, 2013

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the week of 9/23-9/29:


  • Monday 9/23: Psalms 72
  • Tuesday 9/24:  1 Kings 1
  • Wednesday 9/25:  1 Kings 2
  • Thursday 9/26: 1 Kings 3, 4
  • Friday 9/27: 1 Kings 5
  • Saturday 9/28:  1 Kings 6:1-7:12
  • Sunday 9/29:  1 Kings 7:13-8:11

Happy Monday, sweet SHINE girls!

I have to tell you, I am so excited today! This week, my husband and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage!

On one hand, it seems impossible that we have been married that long. On the other hand, I cannot remember life without him. Truly.

This sentiment hit me square in the eyes this past Friday.

Packing my bags for a prayer retreat with our SHINE prayer girls, I came across a picture of Lem and me.

This picture, framed on my dresser, has been there for years. However, that day, I saw it differently.

I picked it up, and looked at the two faces in the picture. Just he and I in snow gear from a trip out West early on in our marriage. Before children.

My eyes spilled over with tears as I stared at the young faces. Barely in our twenties, and full of life, promise, hope and an abundance of LOVE.

My heart swelled with sentiment, adoration, and love for this man that has been by my side for the past 15 years.

I sat down on the bed and thanked the Lord over and over for this man. This life. This journey with Lem.

We are growing up together. Growing old together. Doing life together. Glued at the hip.

Many days I take him for granted. I often put the children's needs ahead of his. Although he would never say that, I know in my heart it has been true.

I was convicted. Not condemned, but convicted.

Have I loved Lem like I vowed to do that beautiful September day 15 years ago?

Probably not as well as I could have, or should have.

I kept hearing in my heart this verse, "Love never fails."

No matter what the circumstance is, love never fails.

I turned the verse around and said it like this: I can never fail with love.

This makes it personal.

No matter my flesh, no matter my pride, no matter my past mistakes....

I can never fail with love.

It will always be the right way. The Lord's way. The higher way. The narrow way.

The next 15 years of our marriage, I will remember this day. I will remember what the Lord showed me. I will remember that I can never fail with love.

If I choose to love, instead of hold a grudge....

If I choose to love, instead of spew angry words....

If I choose to love, instead of retaliate....

If I choose to love, instead of letting pride win....

If I choose to love, instead of demanding to be loved like I want to be loved....

I cannot fail.

Because, God cannot fail.

Love never fails.

We can fail at love, but Love will never fail.

Yes, read that last line again. Until it sinks in.


Our memory verse this week, as you probably guessed:

"Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:8



choosing the way of Love,

jill







Sep 18, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Psalms 66, 67

Happy Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls!

So, I told you the grocery store story on Monday.

On Tuesday, the following day, I had to go back and get something from that same store that I had forgotten on Sunday.

I carried my little item up to the counter, and guess who I saw....that SAME cashier that I had spoken to on Sunday.

My face was beaming with excitement! I could not wait to say hello to my new friend and even tell her how she had changed my heart that day.

She met my eyes with hers, and I {almost shouted}: "HEY!!! So good to see  you!!!!!"

Not even a glimpse of recognition was on her face.

My face fell from a smile to a look of confusion.

She looked at me a little strangely, and said: "Good to see you." 

Crickets.

More crickets.

Again, she had not a clue who I was. At all. Not even an ounce.

We made small talk once again, and that was that.

I slowly walked to my car, as the dry conversation had taken the wind from my sails.

"Lord, what in the world? She had no clue who I was? Really? We had such a great conversation on Sunday. How could she not remember me? I listened to her, I laughed with her. We were friends that day."

As clear as a bell, I hear the Lord say in my spirit, ''The conversation that day was for you, not for her, Jill.  I have been there many times for my children, and they do not remember me. I move mountains daily for my children, and they do not notice. You have been praying for me to open your eyes, and I did."

My heart skipped a few beats.

Then skipped a few more.

I mean, what could I say to that?

Nothing.

That day in the grocery store had nothing to do with what "she" needed. It was all about what I needed. I needed to see the Lord in these small things. I needed to see the Lord in listening to her speak to me. I needed to see the Lord. Period."

Funny how I thought that I had just made her day by listening to her. Ha! I thought she would never forget me. What a joke.

She is the one that will never be forgotten. God used her that day to open my eyes to Him. To open my eyes to see Him in all things--in all people. Even our cashiers.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."
 Hebrews 13:2

Who am I to think that I am so "great" that I can just make someone's day by listening? It's not about me. It's about Him.

It's about learning from the ones we are listening to. It's about being willing to be changed, and not just to want to change everyone around us.

It's kind of like listening to a really good service at church and thinking, "Wow, I wish my husband were here to hear this! He could REALLY use this!!" 

What we don't realize, is that God is speaking to US. We are hearing that message for a reason. To be changed, not to change others.

Leave the changing to God.

He's pretty good at that.


a heart in change,


jill


**OH, and HAPPY 13TH BIRTHDAY ROYCE CROWE! I LOVE YOU TO PIECES MY LITTLE DARLING!**


Sep 16, 2013

Monday SHINE....

Reading Plan for the week of 9/16-9/22:


  • Monday 9/16:  Psalms 63
  • Tuesday 9/17:  Psalms 64, 65
  • Wednesday 9/18:  Psalms 66, 67
  • Thursday 9/19:  Psalms 68:1-18
  • Friday 9/20:  Psalms 68:19-35
  • Saturday 9/21:  Psalms 69
  • Sunday 9/22:  Psalms 70, 71
Happy Monday, sweet SHINE girls! I sure hope you enjoyed this beautiful weekend! 

The Prayer Walk around our schools we held on Saturday was INCREDIBLE! We walked to all 4 of the schools in our community. We stopped, held hands and prayed at each one. Talk about POWERFUL!

The weather hovered at around 67 degrees...yes! The sun was out, the trees were swaying in the breeze, nothing short of perfection for our walk. 

These precious women walked and prayed.
{Love the sun in the background}

Not only did we cover the 4 schools, we also covered 3 preschools. My heart was overflowing when we were finished---7.2 miles later! Yes, my legs were sore, but my heart was bursting with JOY!

I'm still amazed at how prayer changes us. Not just the person on the receiving end, but the one praying. Only God could create such a beautiful cycle.

So, I sat down to write this post and I had a really great memory verse in mind. 

However, after my traditional-Sunday-afternoon trip to the grocery story, God changed my heart.

What is it about the grocery store that produces such God-stories??

I was ready to get home. My groceries were being scanned. I was tapping my foot, trying to make small talk with the sweet cashier. 

She was talking about making candy for her Daddy. She went into detail about how she made this particular candy. 

Each time she would talk, she would stop scanning the groceries. It was definitely a slow process by this point.

Suddenly, I locked eyes with her and the Lord jolted my soul. 

I cannot explain what happened, but I felt this wave of love, connection, and compassion for my sweet cashier. 

I listened intently to the story she was telling me. The Lord was giving me His eyes to see, and His ears to hear. 

Really, I cannot even explain what was happening, except that I didn't want to leave. I was frozen in this space of time. God was showing me what I was missing by being in a hurry. He was showing me what it was like to hear others. Really hear others.

The next few minutes we talked, laughed, shared, and I had made a new friend. 

I glanced at her name tag, and I will never forget her name. 

She is my friend now. 

Only minutes before, she was a stranger, who was too slow for me.

When I unloaded my groceries into my car, I wept. Right there in my car.

I just kept saying over and over, "Lord, thank You. Thank You for letting me stop, and listen. Thank You for freezing me in that moment and giving me a glimpse of what You see."

How many times have I missed something because I was too busy to listen, notice, or really even care?

Ugh.

No moment is wasted with God, my friends. 

At the grocery store, in carpool, walking your dog, at the library.....open your eyes. 

Ask God to use you in these mundane places. Ask Him to open your eyes to what He sees. 

He will. Oh, friends, He will!

"Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders,
make the most of every opportunity."
Colossians 4:5



looking for opportunities,

jill


Sep 15, 2013

SHINE Homework.....

Happy Sunday, SHINE girls!

I have something exciting to share with all of you!

Many of you have emailed me in the past year and asked me about a bible study plan that goes along with our reading. I encouraged you to just gather a few girls and discuss the reading plan together.

Now, I actually have a homework plan and something for you to discuss! This branches off from our SHINE Small group that meets on Wednesday nights at my church.

We have incorporated homework to help us to dig deeper into our reading and His Word.

Each week, for the next few months, I will post homework questions here on the blog. If you desire an extra challenge, this is perfect for you.

Also, I encourage you to gather your own group together and go over these questions and your weekly reading. If you are not currently in a small group or bible study, this is a wonderful way to connect with each other and to hold each other accountable. No workbook required, just your bible, and your homework questions. :)

I will not provide the answers to these questions. :) All of it is for your review and for your guidance in His Word.

P.s...I would LOVE your feedback on the homework. You can email me or comment to let me know your thoughts. :)

Homework for this week:

1) Name 3 authors of the book of Psalms. {You can easily find this by browsing your bible through the book of Psalms}


2) Who wrote Psalm 55?  {yes, this is an easy one}


3) Read Psalms 55 and 56 again, and write down a verse that stands out to you. Maybe because of the turmoil it expresses, or the praise it expresses to the Father.



4) Psalms 57:1(b) says: "I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed." Can you find another verse in your Bible that mentions being in God's shadow? What do you think the significance of being in His shadow means?



5) Read Psalm 59. What was David afraid of? Are you surprised by what he is afraid of? Why or why not?



6) Read  Psalm 62:2. How is God like a rock? Describe some similarities between God and a rock.


7) Read Psalm 63:1. How is physical thirst like spiritual thirst? Have you ever been physically thirsty, if so how did if make you feel? Have you ever been spiritually thirsty? If so, how did it make you feel?


8) Read Psalm 64:1-4. David describes his enemies as "they sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows."

We have all experienced harmful words from others. Can you think of an experience in your life that has shown you the power of deadly and cruel words? Maybe it happened to you, or you saw it first hand with someone close to you. I would love for you to share in class {if you are willing} of this experience. You don't have to be specific of the words spoken, just how hurtful they were or proved to be.

9) If you were the recipient of harmful words, I challenge you to replace those words with words of affirmation, encouragement and love. Words that Your Heavenly Father would speak over you, and IS speaking over you.

For example:
Someone says:  "Jill, you are stupid. You will never amount to anything." 
God says: "Jill, you are made in MY image. I made you just the way you are, and you bring me JOY." {Genesis 1:27}


10) Write a short psalm to the Lord. Just between you and Him. Pour your heart out to the Lord who loves you and cherishes you.





Sep 13, 2013

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading:  Psalms 58, 59
Saturday 9/14:  Psalms 60
Sunday 9/15: Psalms 61, 62

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls! What's your plan for the GORGEOUS weekend we have in store? :)

Guess what today is?

This is the last day of our 40 Days of Prayer Challenge.

Whew. This challenge has been eye opening. No, more like heart-opening for me.

Girls, when we pray for others, even those that we do not like so much, we change. Our icy hearts melt, and we begin to get a glimpse of God's heart. The heart that Loves, Forgives, shows Compassion, shows Grace, shows Mercy, and above all else reflects His radiant heart.

Our prayers release His Divine Plan. What's better than that?

Speaking of prayer, we have an inspiring post for you today!

My friend, Kelli, is one of my very best friends. She is the kind of girl that just lights up a room and you cannot help but to want to know her more.

Here's Kelli and her beautiful family!


Kelli loves the Lord and she is passionate about fulfilling His plan for her precious life.

Be blessed today, girls. I know you will!


How I Transformed my Prayer Life
by Kelli Brooks

Hello SHINE sisters! My name is Kelli Brooks. I’m a wife to Clint, a mother to 6-year-old Bennett, 3-year-old Garrett, and two teeny 4 lb. yorkies, Zeke and Sophie. I’m a social butterfly who is passionate about fitness and wellness, and fervently seeking my Lord and His will for my life. I’ve been friends with Jill for years, but through this amazing SHINE ministry, God has brought our friendship to a much more intimate level, for which I’m forever grateful. 

Jill has been asking me to post since last November, and she has gotten several “no’s” and “not yets” from me! For those of you who know me, I love to talk (a little too much) and a general post on my testimony and journey with the Lord would’ve been nothing short of a novel! The task seemed too overwhelming for this chatterbox! But, this time Jill asked me to post on a specific subject-a subject that has RADICALLY transformed in my life over the past year-PRAYER. I knew exactly what God wanted me to share within minutes. I’m about to share with you the 3 prayer practices that changed my prayer life, and everything else about my relationship with God.

  1. Pray for the DESIRE to pray. Philippians 2:13 “For God is working in you, giving you the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases him.” We know that prayer pleases him. It’s the way he designed for us to communicate directly with Him! So he will answer this prayer for you, every time! What does God care about more than anything-more than our behavior, more than our service? Our relationship with Him! So he will give us the desire to pray. And ladies, it works. I can’t even put into words how much this works. It has brought me a whole new meaning to “praying without ceasing”. I talk to him while putting on my mascara. I talk to him while my feet are pounding the pavement on a morning run. I talk to him while I’m driving, taking a shower, cooking dinner, mid-conversation with a friend when asking him to fill me with his words for her…you name it. God doesn’t just saturate the Bible with truths on the importance of prayer and then say “well, good luck with that.” No! He equips us with the desire to pray, and the power to follow through! Can I PLEASE get an amen???
  2. Pray for DISCERNMENT, CLARITY, and CLOSED DOORS. Psalm 119:169 “O Lord, listen to my cry, give me the discerning mind you promised”; Psalm 119:25-32 (MSG) “Barricade the road that goes nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to somewhere…I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me, God. I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll show me how.” For several months, my husband and I have been planning to move, and have been seeking God’s will for our family. EVERY TIME I have prayed for God to completely close the doors to things we are considering that are not His will, he has answered in HUGE ways. We were considering a few lots to build on months ago. I prayed that God would close the doors on the lots we were pursuing if they were not his plan. I specifically prayed that if the priciest lot we looked at was not his will, the cost would be an amount that we’d never consider. I prayed that the lots in our budget would be completely removed from the table if they were not his will for us. The next day, my husband calls me: “I just got off the phone with the owner of the lots. The pricy lot is WAY too high. And you’re not going to believe this, but a builder called out of nowhere this morning and put an offer on the other lots. (Side note: the lots had been on the market since 2009!). Now it’s time for a 2nd amen! I was so humbled and thankful for the answer to my prayer that I didn’t have time to be disappointed that our moving plans would be changing again! This is just one example of many where the Lord has answered my prayers for clarity and closed doors when making big decisions.  Don’t be afraid to pray boldly! Our Father says we are to come CONFIDENTLY to the throne of grace!
  3. Pray Scripture. Praying scripture unleashes SO much power in our lives. Where do I even begin? It’s a beautiful form of worship. It tunes us in to the Holy Spirit like nothing else. It gives us a perfect place to start when we are too stressed, tired, depressed, hurt, frustrated, or distracted to form our own words for prayer. Sometimes I dedicate my morning quiet time to going through all my favorite scriptures, and paraphrasing/personalizing them into a prayer in my journal. I’m going to share with you my most recent scripture prayer from my journal. You will recognize many of the verses (almost every sentence is scripture), but I have not listed the verses I used due this entry being written like a prayer Yes, it’s long (I’m also a chatterbox in my journal!), but PLEASE read through it with a prayerful heart and you’ll be blessed by God’s truths!  Enjoy, and thank for allowing me to share a bit of my journey with you!
 Father, thank you for revealing more of my heart to me. Transform me by the renewing of my mind. You direct the steps of the godly. You delight in every detail of our lives! Though I stumble, I will never fall, for you hold me by the hand. Lord, my source of hope, fill me completely with joy and peace because I trust in you. Then I will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit! You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Thank you Lord! Help me, Father, to let the peace that comes from Christ control my thoughts. Give me your peace at all times and in every situation. I crave it, Lord! Help me to turn away from evil and do good. Give me the desire to search for peace and the power to maintain it! Oh Lord, that I would conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ-whatever comes my way. For you are working in me, giving me the desire and power to do what pleases you. The same power that is made perfect in my weakness. Yes, Lord! I accept that gift from you Father with an open heart! You are my portion, you alone. I will trust you with all my heart; I will not depend on my own understanding. I will seek your will in all I do, and you will show me which path to take. All glory belongs to you, O’ God, whose power is at work in me! By that power, you can do infinitely more than I can ask or imagine. Blessed are those who trust in you and have made you their hope and confidence. Father, my flesh and heart may fail, but you, my precious Lord, are the strength of my heart and my portion forever! And I am certain that you, who began a good work within me, will continue your work until it is finally finished when Christ returns! Help me to not get tired of doing good. At just the right time I will reap a harvest of blessing if I don’t give up! Thank you for your spirit living in me, making it possible to do what you tell me and live by your commands. Flood my heart with light so that I can understand the confident hope you’ve given me. Help me to understand the incredible greatness of your power-the same power that raised CHRIST from the dead! I praise you, my God, for the promise that there is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus! If I confess my sins to you, you are faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from every wrong! Thank you for giving your only Son, that I may live with you forever! It’s in the name of this precious Son that I pray, Amen. 

Kelli and her loves!

Sep 11, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Psalm 55

Happy Worship Wednesday SHINE girls!

Today marks 12 years since September 11th. This day just intensifies in my heart the need for prayer.

After church this Sunday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a good friend and mentor, Shelly. Shelly and her husband, Hunter, were the leaders of the very first small group that Lem and I joined at our church.

They have poured their ministry into our lives, and have set such an incredible example of discipleship for us. Hunter has been such an awesome mentor and friend to Lem. Truly, God hand-picked them to be our friends several years ago. The Lord knew we needed them! :)

At lunch Sunday, Shelly told me about a ministry that she had started. She and several other ladies were meeting each week to pray for their community. I will let her tell you the rest of the story, but needless to say, I was inspired.

I was so inspired in fact, that I prayed and asked God what in the world to do with all of this inspiration and heart-igniting for prayer that I was feeling.

Of course, He answered.

He led me to organize a prayer walk in OUR community. A prayer walk for our schools. I knew I had to act on it quickly because if I didn't, I would back out.

I typed up an email just as quick as my little fingers could type. I hit send.

Because of Shelly's obedience and ministry, we will have a prayer walk in Madison, Ga this Saturday at 7:30 am to cover our schools in prayer. {Shelly doesn't even know this---until NOW!}

Maybe God is leading you to do the same? Or maybe you live in one of these communities and would like to be involved.

I kept asking God: "Are you sure??? You know this is kind of crazy--what if nobody comes?? Do you really want me to do this??"

He gently reminded me: "My will is always for my children to pray and communicate with me. You never have to question that. I hear your prayer. Even if you are the only one praying."

There you have it. He wants us to pray. Period.

So, today, Shelly Hall will give her testimony. You will be blessed and inspired, my friends.

My Prayer story
by: Shelly Hall

My name is Shelly, friend of Jill’s, and four years ago I was helping take care of my mom, whom had cancer.  I asked her about any of her favorite books and she suggested one by Jennifer Kennedy Dean on prayer called, Live a Praying Life.  
During that time, I used that particular study for my times with the Lord.  It taught me a ton about prayer, which I felt very weak in.  But this is where my burden for prayer in our community began.
Once my mom passed and we got back to normal life,  I found that with four kids in sports/activities and a busy husband, plus working part time, I had little time for other things.  So I just kept spending time with the Lord regularly and continued to have a burden for prayer in our community.  
I wanted to be “used” for the Lord but I felt like I was in a more “wilderness time” of going deeper with Him and being faithful in that.   I had lived in a couple other states and in one place, I had attended a group which met for the sole purpose of praying for our schools;  this experience always resonated with me and I longed to see something like this to begin in our community.
Last summer, I sat down with lady and shared my heart for gathering women to come and pray for our schools, community leaders, economics, and churches.  She was excited and wanted to help me carry this out, so we met with two other women and shared the vision. 
 We began meeting in her home and started recruiting others to join us from various denominations, race, and economic levels.  Currently, we have around 10-12 women who come to pray for one hour, only, on Friday mornings.  It has been such a blessing to me and others as we gather in unity and lift up our hearts to the Lord for our burdens and hopes for this community.
My gifting is not prayer but I have just had this burden to initiate it and realized that I have a ton of connections in this community because of my husband and I’s many contacts( four children playing sports, every season for 10 yrs, puts you in many lives).  So I have used this to gather people, and it doesn’t sound spiritual:  like a gift of prayer, but I went for it and have been overly blessed by the variety of godly women the Lord has brought to pray and taught me to how to pray for certain issues in unique ways.  
My heart is to see these groups spring up all over our county for women of all walks of life.  I recently had a women talk about doing one called “play and pray” for women who have young kids but want to join in the prayer initiative and their kids can play in her home as they pray.  I would love to see one for working women and teachers.  And then, maybe we could set up prayer walks to cover schools and areas in the community.  I am just struck with the potential of seeing what God can do as we embark on this regularly and excited to see how He will move here:   like unifying churches, softening hearts, awakening spiritual interest, students making an impact in their schools, and the list goes on of how God can bring changes that we’ve hoped for and were not sure if they could happen here.  
One author wrote: “prayer for a specific place/person is like putting a magnifying glass over it and directing God’s power to that area”.
Why not make it where I live, where my kids go to school, and where there are people, I see and I care about, that need the Lord in their lives.

The Hall Family!

So that is my story, just small steps of obedience and faith, and anticipating seeing God’s hand here because we came and prayed.  And by the way, sometimes I wonder if I am a part of the impact of my mom and her friends praying for this community a decade ago. I never thought of it as I walked along this path,  but now I found myself here. If that’s the case, may God’s faithfulness to answer the prayers of those who’ve gone before us bring honor to Him for hearing and moving.

The REAL Hall Family--CRAZY!!! :-)

Sep 9, 2013

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the Week of 9/9-915:


  • Monday 9/9: 2 Samuel 24
  • Tuesday 9/10:  Psalms 52-54
  • Wednesday 9/11:  Psalms 55
  • Thursday 9/12:  Psalms 56, 57
  • Friday 9/13:  Psalms 58, 59
  • Saturday 9/14:  Psalms 60
  • Sunday 9/15: Psalms 61, 62

Happy Monday SHINE girls! We are on our last week of our 40 Days of Prayer. 

Yes, we are still talking about this. 

Yes, prayer is a BIG DEAL. 

A HUGE DEAL.

Prayer is the most powerful resource we have available to tap into God's Will and Purposes for our lives. Of course, His Word goes hand in hand with prayer.

I saw this quote the other day:


This perfectly sums up my heart regarding this post.


I was in the grocery store yesterday, and I just started praying. Praying that God would stretch our tight budget to get all that I needed to get this week. Praying for deals and specials on what I needed to pick up that day. Praying for the lady that sliced our meat at the deli counter, who seemed to be having a very bad day. Praying for some precious children that I saw at the store. Children that I know need a miracle in their home life.

My heart would not be focused on these things, if I had not been challenged to pray these last 36 days.

Prayer changes our perspective. Really, there is no other way.

As if that wasn't enough, I was driving home from the store. I saw the most beautiful sight in the sky.

It was the sun's rays beaming down through clouds. The sight was breathtaking. I almost pulled over, but decided against it since I was on the expressway.

I could not believe the sight. I tilted my sunglasses up to see what the sky would look like without the filter of my sunglasses.

The view changed.

It was still pretty, but more average. Not at all as magnificent.

I tilted my sunglasses back down, and could not believe the difference it made.

The amber tint on my glasses made the sky look too picturesque for words. Without my shades, it was average at best.

The Lord spoke to my heart at that very moment:

When you pray, you begin to see life through My Eyes. I give you My God-sized filter. When you are not connecting with me through prayer, you miss out on the grandiose scenery that I provide. Without prayer, you see life through the common view of the flesh, and not my Splendid Filter. 

My heart was overwhelmed with what He was revealing to me. It was Truth. He was speaking exactly what I have been discovering through prayer.

Our Memory Verse:

Rejoice always, pray continually,
 give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


keeping my prayer shades on,

jill

Sep 6, 2013

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading:  2 Samuel 21
Saturday 9/7:  2 Samuel 22
Sunday 9/8: 2 Samuel 23


Happy Fun Friday, sweet SHINE girls!! We are on Day 33 of our 40 Days of Prayer!

I have loved every minute of this. Anything that keeps me intentional and on target is a GOOD thing.

I'm like most girls, my mind wanders--a lot. I get distracted--a lot. I lose focus--a lot.

Having a prayer challenge gives me purpose. It reminds me to-------------> PRAY.

This prayer challenge has been insightful to me in many ways. For one, I have realized how much time I do not spend in prayer in any given day. Yes, it's true.

Distractions, busyness, preoccupation, it all keeps me from praying.

This week as I was praying for my children, I asked the Lord how I could teach them to pray. I mean, I tell them all the time to pray, and I pray with them. However, how can I really teach them to pray on their own?

He gave me an idea.

Freshly inspired, I went to the dollar story, bought some Popsicle sticks, and brought them home. While the kids were at school I wrote many names on the sticks. Mostly family names.

I explained to the kids that each morning we would all pick a Popsicle stick, and pray for the person who's name we chose.



This wasn't just for them....it was for me as well.

I kept thinking of something my husband told me yesterday that he had learned from his men's bible study.

If we are not praying for those around us----then who is???

Chances are--nobody.

It really shook me.

I explained this to the kids and told them that we have a responsibility to others. As Christians and as friends and family members, we should be praying daily for those around us. Not just a one-time-covers-it-all prayer, but constant, steady prayer.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful"
 Colossians 4:2


Your Fun Friday Challenge:

Keep praying today. Write names down if you have to. Surround yourselves with reminders--or Popsicle sticks. :)

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


Popsicles anyone....?

jill



Sep 4, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading:  2 Samuel 19:9-39

Happy Worship Wednesday!

Oh, SHINE girls! Our reading is heating up. I can hardly stand it!

I had to MAKE myself quit reading yesterday morning. Seriously. I had to peel myself from the couch and go and wake my kids up to feed them breakfast and get them ready for school.

God's Word is fascinating. Plain and simple.

Today, I have an incredible post about peace from my friend Lisa Inlow.

Be blessed by Lisa's words of wisdom, sweet girls.

Peace
by: Lisa Inlow

Psalm 29:11
The Lord gives his people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.

Isaiah 32:17
And this righteousness will bring peace.  Quietness and confidence will fill the land forever.

Isaiah 26:12
Lord, you will grant us peace, for all we have accomplished is really from you.

Matthew 11:28-30
The Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.

Rest Here

I don't know if it was the way I was raised, my personality, or whatever...either way, I often feel like I'm most in God's presence when He has his pruning sheers out.

I have realized lately that I have been missing out on ALL those times of ease.  Just existing in goodness and peace!!

How sad is that?

Don't you know He has wanted me to chill and enjoy times where the pruning sheers are hanging in the garage!

Girls we need to rest in peace and goodness.  And enjoy it!

He gives it to us in buckets full...are we missing it?

As a mother, I of course train my children.  I "snip" off bad attitudes and behaviors  when I need too.

But there are lots and lots of times where we are peacefully existing.  Things are easy, good, fun and happy!

Oh goodness, the same is true in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The peace He gives.  The joy!!

We need to stop looking for the ax to fall --- for goodness sake!

Maybe I'm just preaching to myself here and my "where's doomsday??" outlook that I have at times.

But I'm done!

I'm going to walk in the Light of His goodness and peace.

Who's with me?!  :-)

Oh precious Father we thank You for the peace and joy You shower on us every day.  We are going to rest in the warmth of Your never ending love and goodness. Thank You so much for the blessing of walking with You.

Sep 3, 2013

Prayer Requests and Praises for September 2013.....




Tuesday SHINE....

Reading Plan for the week of 9/2-9/8:


  • Monday 9/2: 2 Samuel 16:15-17:29
  • Tuesday 9/3: 2 Samuel: 18:1-19:8
  • Wednesday 9/4:  2 Samuel 19:9-39
  • Thursday 9/5:  2 Samuel 19:40-20:26
  • Friday 9/6:  2 Samuel 21
  • Saturday 9/7:  2 Samuel 22
  • Sunday 9/8: 2 Samuel 23

Happy Tuesday, SHINE girls! Happy September!

It sure feels like Monday since yesterday was a holiday, doesn't it?

I completely dropped the ball on posting our reading plan for the week yesterday. My family and I were out of town, and I did not have my computer. Oops. :)

Hopefully, you have had some time to catch up on our reading if you were behind. It's good good stuff. 

I'll keep it short so that you can get on with your sweet little day. 

Let's get to our Memory Verse:


"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 troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27


I know, I know. It's a little lengthy. 

However, we need to hide this gem in our hearts. It's what we need when we face those dreadful moments of anxiety, worry, and fear. 

It's our weapon against these things. God's spoken Word is the Sword that pierces these feelings. Not only does it pierce them, but God's Word annihilates them. 

It's true. 

Memorize this one, girls.

You will be so glad you did. 


bring on the Peace,


jill