Feb 28, 2014

Wanna Yoke up?

I keep coming back to this verse in Matthew from our reading this week.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Yesterday, I read it over and over.

Here's what I'm getting from it...

Life will bring labor, and life will bring heavy burdens. Many of our burdens are brought on by things such as worry, anxiety, grief, pent-up bitterness, anger, depression, financial instability, addictions......

Also, things outside of our realm of control. Such as loss, heartbreak, divorce, children gone astray, husbands gone astray, parents aging, job losses....all of these heavy duty burdens.

So, Jesus is not promising a a care-free life here. Not in any way.

Jesus is offering us rest for our souls.

When our soul is at rest, we reside in peace. The Peace of God.

Let's look at the next verse...

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart...."

By the way, the definition of yoke is to "join together". I had to look it up. ;)

 SoI see it like this...

When I became a believer in Christ. something in the spiritual realm happened that encased me in God's Hands. "I am a member of Christ's body" 1 Corinthians 12:27

 I became "yoked" to Him when I became a believer.  "I am joined to the Lord and one in spirit with Him". 1 Corinthians 6:17

However, because I am flesh and blood....I can get yoked to other things along the way. Almost like a magnet, I can attract some worldly junk. Such as worry, fear, anxiety.....or a million and one other things.

The last line of that scripture is "My yoke is easy and My burden is light".

If His yoke is easy and His burden is light....then whose yoke am I carrying?

Certainly not one that He intended me to carry.

Jesus bore every one of our sins when He died. Every last one of them. Talk about some burdens to carry! So, if His yoke is easy and His burden is light, I can rest in the fact that He intended mine to be even lighter.

There will be trouble, there will be sorrow in this life.  However, we must not be self-dependent in handling these things that come our way. Self-dependent is the opposite of Christ-dependent.

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Take His yoke, my sweet friends. Your soul is need of His rest.

Don't let the enemy fool you and tell you that you have to do a laundry list of things to receive God's peace and rest. The enemy wants nothing more than to make you feel you have to "earn" that peace. In fact, the enemy wants you to be yoked to the world in every possible way.

Our circumstances don't have to disappear in order to receive the Peace and Rest of Jesus.

Let me say that one more time--Our circumstances don't have to disappear in order to receive the Peace and Rest of Jesus.

Jesus' Peace is in spite of our circumstances. Period.

Jesus died for your peace. Yoke up on that little nugget.


yoking up to Jesus,


jill


**Join us in reading along in our reading plan. You can find it here. 

Feb 26, 2014

You said what?!....

I apologize in advance for some of my posts sounding like a journal entry. It's just what flows from my heart some days, and I have no control. :)

This may be one of those posts.

Before I lose you, let me explain.

Over the weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a ladies event at my church. It was picture perfect. The message was awesome, the decor was fabulous, down to the last pink and red hearts on the tables.

However, the next day, I was not feeling so great. Something was stirring in my spirit and I wasn't quite sure what it was. I chalked it up to not getting enough sleep due to a late night waffle house run with some of the girls from my church.

Monday came, and I was still not feeling "right".

As I had my quiet time that morning, I looked over at the gift that was given to all of the girls from our women's event. It was an adorable coffee mug with the verse "Your beauty and love chase after me" Psalm 23:6.

This verse was the theme for the night. Along with this verse, being "Pursued" by the Lord was the message given by my precious friend, Kelli.

When I looked at this cup sitting next to me that morning, it struck me.



I pushed the emotions down, and tried to forget about what was stirring in my heart after I read that verse.

Those emotions stayed down for a bit....until I was alone in my car that afternoon.

I turned down the music and told the Lord out loud that I was about to get real honest with Him about something.

My heart started pounding hard in my chest. I mean, could I really talk to the Lord like I was about to talk to Him??

His Word tells us "so let us come boldly to the throne of our Gracious God". Hebrews 4:16

So, I was about to be really bold. Not just bold....but BOLD.

Teeth chattering, I slowly started to spill what was on my heart.

It went something like this:

"Lord, Your Word says that you chase after me all the days of my life. I believe Your Word. But, I have a hard time believing that. I don't feel like you chase me. I feel like I chase You. I feel like I am always pursuing You more than You are pursuing me. I get tired and weary from chasing You."

Yeah, I know you're thinking I'm crazy to say that to our Father in Heaven! THE BIG MAN! Our CREATOR!

I was thinking the same thing.

So, after being a little too real with Him, I just sat there.

A few minutes passed and I heard nothing in my spirit back from Him. Just quiet.

Suddenly, He spoke to me. Not audibly, but in my spirit.

This is what my heart heard Him speak:

"Jill, you can't chase after Someone that is not running from you. I am with You. I Am that I Am. This means I am in the Present with you. "I Am" is present tense. So, when you say you chase Me, you are not chasing Me. You are chasing after something your flesh desires. You are chasing after what you see as My best for you....not what I have for you in the present. You sometimes chase after My blessings, Jill, and not Me. I cannot be chased. I am always with you. I am the One who chases you, because you run from Me.....in all of your chasing of other things...."

Y'all, I was in the car on the freeway when my spirit was rocked with this. I looked around for a pencil and paper to write this down...nothing. So, I grabbed my phone and went to my notes app which has a microphone. I spoke this whole thing into my note pad. I am NOT kidding!

I was so in awe of His message to me. I'm not smart enough to have this kind of answer. It could ONLY be Him that took my bold request and accusation and answered it in such a powerful and profound way. Only Him.

So, this is where I will leave this post....

Do you feel like you chase God? Or maybe you don't feel like He chases you?

Maybe you don't feel at all like you are being pursued by Him?

I will tell you the same thing He told me...

He cannot be chased. Because He is already chasing you.

What are you chasing after that is preventing you from being in the Present with God--the
Great "I Am"?

"Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10. 

We will find Him when we stop the chase. We will find Him when we "be still"--present tense.


the chase is over,


jill


**Follow along with us in our reading plan. You can find it here.


My Waffle House friends!
From left:
Back row: Kelli, Danielle, Me, Holly, Shelly, Lisa
Middle Row: Gail, Missy
Front Row: Angie



Feb 24, 2014

Got Faith?

Sometimes life just can bruise and batter you. Things get hard and life can just get tough and messy.

The last few weeks have been a little like this in the parenting department for me. Nothing on a major scale, but as Solomon tells us in Song of Songs, "it's the little foxes that spoil the vine".

Little things can get into the cracks of your day and before you know it, it's a big fat mess.

Most mothers {and fathers} would agree that parenting is hard work. Some days are easier than others, but shew-wee, it's exhausting. No matter the age of your children.

After the past couple of weeks I was feeling less than great about my mothering ability. Very down and out, and second-guessing my ability to be a good mother to these little ones.

Tears running down my face, I journaled to the Lord about my sorrow. I spilled my heart to Him and told Him my desire for His immediate intervention.

"Lord, I don't want to mess this up! Please help me! Give me wisdom, discernment, patience...I need it all! Oh, and I need it right now!"

I searched and searched in His Word for comforting scriptures. I came across many, but the scripture that He used to get me through that day was this one...

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

This is how it spoke to my mother heart that day, "Jill, believe Me. Put your Hope in Me. Be certain of Me, although you don't know what today or tomorrow brings. Put your faith in Me, not your abilities."

I was stressed and anxious about my children and their well-being. Past, present and future. Was I screwing them up? Was I getting it right? Was I doing enough? Was I doing too much? Lord, help me with the thoughts!

I felt such a burden to "get it right" with them that day, and it was weighing so heavy on me. A burden that I wasn't meant to carry.

Jesus tells us to:"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest". Matthew 11:28

Read that verse one more time.

When I combine that verse with "being sure of what I hope for, and certain of what I do not see"....

I exhale.

I exhale again.

And again.

I will not be a perfect parent. Ever.

But, I do have the hope that what I don't see, I can believe.

I believe that He will never leave me or forsake me. {Hebrews 13:5}

I believe that He will give me strength on hard days. {Isaiah 41:10}

I believe that when I ask Him for wisdom, He will provide it. {James 1:5}

I  believe that no matter how much I try to control things and people, that He is the One in complete control. {Psalm 46:1-11}

So, I surrender.

Again.

As I type, I cannot help but to think of two precious women I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend.

Their lives have been turned upside down.

My heart could barely find the words to pray....

But, the Lord reminded me.

He reminded me of what He had just taught me that very same morning....

Although their situations seem bleak and hopeless.....

Our Hope is alive and well.

We can be certain of this.

The visible may seem hopeless....

However, God tells us this....again.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." 
Hebrews 11:1

I could tell these women with complete sincerity and belief that they could trust The Lord Almighty. I may not know much, but this I do know.

To seal the deal with your heart, I want to add a few more scriptures from that very same chapter of Hebrews. I was stunned when I read them. {Hebrews 11:1-17}

"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet see, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became the heir of the righteousness of Christ."

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know were he was going..."

"By faith, Abraham, even though he was past age, was enabled to become a father...." {He was 100!!!}

"By faith, Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice..."

"By faith the people passed through the Red Sea...when the Egyptians drowned."

Our memory verse for this week...you guessed it:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

I'm making it personal.... "By faith, I will raise my children with full dependence and Trust in the Lord to help me every step of the way."

Will you fill in the blank, make this personal, and believe what God has in store for you?


"By faith, I will_____________________."



filling in more blanks,


jill


**Follow along with us in our reading plan. You can find it here.

Feb 18, 2014

Do you want to be Pursued?

Hey, SHINE girls! I have two AWESOME things to share with you today...are you ready?

I want to invite you local girls {or even if you aren't so local} to a women's event at my church this Saturday! We will have fun fellowship, sweet treats, and you will be sure to leave feeling PURSUED by your Lord and Savior!

This incredible night will begin at 6:00 pm, this Saturday, February 22nd. Our church is Eastridge Community Church in Covington, Ga. You do NOT have to attend our church to come to this FUN girls night! Grab a friend, or two or three...and come!

I will be looking for your cute little faces....so, go ahead and put it on your calendar. :)

The second AWESOME thing I want to share is a post from my friend, Kelli Brooks. Kelli will be sharing about God's Pursuit of YOU at our girls night. So, I wanted her to give you a sneak peak of what she will be sharing.

Are you ready to be blown away by how much God loves you and desires you?

Be blessed by Kelli's story, sweet girls.

PURSUED
by: Kelli Brooks



Kelli and her precious family


So here we are in the second half of February. Time flies! Another Valentine's Day has passed us by. A day that makes us think of a cute little cherub shooting love darts. A day showered with all things red and pink. A day that is undoubtedly the busiest day of the year for florists around the country. A day to celebrate love! Sure, these are the generic things we think of when we hear Valentine's Day, but this day means something different for every woman. For some, this is a day to be romanced. A day full of flowers and candy, a special dinner, or whatever your loved one plans to make you feel like the most important woman in the world. For some, it is a day of loneliness, pain and sadness. Whether you wait all year for V-day, you avoid it like the plague, or you're somewhere in between, I hope the Lord speaks fresh truth into your heart today about HIS passionate, unmatchable love for you! My prayer is that you will be filled with hope and excitement, and-more than anything-that you will be challenged to take his hand and allow him to make you the radiant woman you were created to be.

Can we be honest with ourselves for a moment?

As women, we all want to be seen, noticed, desired, listened to, protected, rescued, known, held, pursued, celebrated, fought for, called beautiful. Just reading those words stirs up my soul. We were created to want these things! We were created as delicate, feminine, beautiful women who long to be swept up in the arms of strength and protection.
First, I'd like to share a few scriptures with you that describe how crazy-in-love with you the Lord is! Breathe them in:

Psalm 23:6-Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life(you are pursued & desired)

Zephaniah 3:17-...He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (you are celebrated)

Psalm 45:11-Let the King be enthralled by your beauty...(you are called beautiful)

Psalm 91-He will rescue you...protect you...cover you...shelter you(need I say more?!)

Psalm 139:1-6-O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down and stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I'm going to say before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! (you are seen, you are listened to)

Psalm 139:13-18-You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They cannot be numbered! 
(you are INTIMATELY known, precious sister!)

How do you feel after reading those treasures from His word? I hope they make your heart skip a beat. I hope they're a beautiful reminder of how God feels about you! Do they make you want to take the outstretched hand of God and delight in life spent with Him? Do you hear in your heart the whispers of love and acceptance flowing from Him? Do you hear Him asking you to dance so he can sweep you off your feet? Inviting you into the intimate, passionate relationship of your dreams? My prayer is that this is where you are! And if not, that you will be.

Well friends, there are a couple of things I can tell you here. First, the truths in these scriptures are how he feels about YOU. Not just that good girl from church on Sunday, not just the woman who leads your bible study...YOU. And second, there are very few of us who truly believe that God could possibly love us this way. Why is this so hard for us? There are two significant obstacles that prevent us from fully accepting God's love:

We go to others for the perfect, fulfilling love that can only come from God.

We look to a man for perfect love. We set unrealistic expectations for our husbands. We become resentful and bitter when they cannot live up to those expectations-and if we're not careful, we push them away and create distance. Ladies, our husbands are not capable of perfect love. They were never supposed to be. Our husbands are intended to be VESSELS, and through them we get a taste of God's love.

We look to our children for perfect love. We get hyper-involved with their activities, achievements, and every tiny aspect of their lives. We wipe their bottoms, kiss their boo-boos, teach them life lessons, and the list keeps going. Before we know it, our children are what we live for, and in turn we subconsciously expect them to fill our souls. Then the day comes when they move away to college and the house is empty...and so are our hearts. Our children are only intended to be VESSELS, and through them we get a taste of God's love.

We look to STUFF for perfect love. That sounds foolish, doesn't it? But let's think about it: you feel empty, depressed, angry, disappointed, discontent, or bored and you head to your pantry to numb your feelings with some chips. Or maybe you head to the mall and buy a new top...or three. That new car sitting at the dealership would make everything better, right? These things will never be enough. And take note: STUFF WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE A VESSEL TO TASTE GOD'S LOVE. STUFF IS JUST STUFF. Material things aren't necessarily bad, but they'll never fill the void that God alone can fill.

We feel that past sin disqualifies us from God's perfect love.
Oh boy. We could park here for days. Maybe you deeply hurt a loved one, and you live with the regrets and pain of a severed relationship. Now you don't feel you're worthy to receive this amazing love that the Lord speaks of. Maybe its sexual sin, and it has distorted how you view passion and intimacy, therefore making it hard for you to believe or understand the holy passion and intimacy that comes from the Lord. No matter what sin comes to mind for you, we all end up with the same thought: "I am unworthy of this type of love. I don't deserve it. It's too good to be true, and it can't be for me."

I have some encouraging truth to bring your way! Romans 5:8 says "God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Did you catch that? He sent his precious Son to die for us while we were still sinners! His perfect love is not based on what we've done or what we will do!

How about a little more? Ezekiel 34:11-12 says "I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they are scattered..." Talk about being sought out and noticed! And while we are astray from the chosen path. Why is the Lord so awesome?

Ya'll, I have been blessed. I have two wonderful children, amazing God-centered friendships, the list goes on and on. I also have a terrific husband. I mean, he's great. Handsome, sensitive, loving, hard-working, honest. He tells me I'm attractive often (in his quirky, funny choice of words), he supports me...I could keep going. Which is why I've struggled with major guilt for years over why I'm not satisfied. Stay with me here. There has still been a need-a deeper need-to feel desired, pursued, noticed. A need that can't be met by a husband and a marriage. This guilt has been crippling at times because I didn't understand what I was feeling. Year after year, I pushed down and suppressed the way I felt. I honestly felt that something was wrong with me and hated myself over this at times. I begged God to take these needs away, and with each plea, the need would become stronger. I felt as if past sexual sin (before marriage) had somehow permanently damaged my ability to be secure and fulfilled in a healthy love relationship.

Finally, in my bedroom with journal in hand, there was a night of change and healing. This is what I wrote:

"Lord, you know these longings are there. I've begged you to take them away. But I think I'm starting to realize that the needs are supposed to be there. I know, as a believer, that you should be enough. I know through reading your word that you love me like no one else ever could. I believe it with my head, but Father, please help me to believe it with my heart. You made me. You wired me this way. And if you made me this aware of these longings so I would run to you, then show me the way. I am here. I want to be blown away by your passionate, intimate love for me. I want to be so swept off my feet by your pursuit of me that the longings in my heart finally make sense. I've always seen you as my Father, but help me to break free from the memories and self-inflicted shame of my past sin so I can truly know that you are the passionate lover of my soul. And not only know it, but be thrilled and completely fulfilled by it."

We were created with the need to be desired, sought out, pursued. Let's stop suppressing the longings of our soul and turn to the Lord to satisfy us in a way we never thought possible.

Praying that you accept when He asks you to dance,

Kelli

 

**Join us in our daily reading plan. You can find it here. 

Feb 17, 2014

We are the world.....

Today, we begin reading a short little three chapter book in the Old Testament, Habakkuk.

I haven't done a lot of reading in this particular book, so we shall learn together. :)

As I scanned the three chapters to see what we have coming up to read this week, I noticed some things I had underlined in this book.

What stood out was the title of what I had starred and underlined in my bible..."Habakkuk's Prayer".

I read this prayer, and immediately knew what we would be memorizing this week. You guessed it, this prayer.

Habakkuk had witnessed great spiritual revival in his time, yet he was also witnessing great spiritual decline.

I can relate to what Habakkuk was witnessing, can't you?

Imagine how much the generations ahead of us can relate to Habakkuk's despair. The older we get, the more spiritual decline we encounter, unfortunately.

Many conversations that I have had with my parents and grandparents through the years prove this point. All of them talk about how different our world is than when they were growing up.

We will do the same with our grandchildren. If not already.

According to God's Word, this will continue until Jesus returns. This makes me shudder at what my children and grandchildren will witness.

So, Habakkuk, prayed.

He was burdened by what he saw. He asked the Lord to intervene.

I have to admit, I don't always remember to ask the Lord for this kind of thing. Sometimes, I will see something take place, and I may feel sad and broken hearted over it, but I don't always remember to pray about it. Especially if it doesn't seem to really affect my life.

For example, when I watch the news and see the horrible things that happen across the world. I shudder and I am saddened by what I see, but I don't always think to pray about it. It's like there is an invisible fence separating our lives from theirs.

I love to pray. I love to pray for those around me. I love to pray for those in my daily life, those that I see, talk to, and live life with. However, often I forget to extend my prayers to those that may need them the most.  A hurting world. A desperate world.

"For God so loved the world..." John 3:16

Yes, the world. So, I should too.

Beginning today, I want to reach out of my prayer circle and reach into a big, giant, hurting world.

I want to pray like Habakkuk did. He desired revival for the people. Not just the ones he lived life with or that lived near him...but for all people.

That's what I want.

Will you pray this prayer with me? Will you commit to praying it with me this week? You don't even have to memorize it, just pray it. Easy enough, right?

Our Monday Memory Verse:

"Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." Habakkuk 3:1-2

Don't you just love this prayer?

I want to show you another translation of this prayer in the Message version. It's really cool...

"God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy."

Wow wow wow!

Girls, let's pray this together. Not just today, but as much as we possibly can. Write it down in a notebook, type it in your phone...keep it near you to remember to pray.

Let's love the world enough to pray for a revival in all nations. Everywhere.

I'm glad Habakkuk prayed for us.


broadening my prayers,


jill


**Follow along with us in our daily reading plan. You can find it here.

Feb 14, 2014

A Love Letter for you....

Do you know who loves you the most today?

“For God so loved you, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Are you aware of a Pursuit for your heart so intense that it would break your heart wide open if you surrendered fully to His embrace?

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

Do you know that no matter what the world has to offer that nothing can separate you from the Love that God Almighty has in store for you?

"Nothing will ever separate you from my love" Romans 8:38-39

Do you know that whatever you are facing He will comfort you? Will  you let let Him?

"I am the Father who comforts you in all your troubles" 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Have you ever wanted someone to sing to you?

"I will rejoice over you with singing" Zephaniah 3:17

Have you ever wondered who you belong to?

"For you are my offspring" Acts 17:28

Do you ever wonder if you were a mistake?

"You were not a mistake, all your days are written in my book" Psalm 139:15-16

Ever wonder if anyone thinks of you throughout the day?

"My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore" Psalm 139:17-18

Do you wonder if you are capable?

"I am able to do more for you than you could ever possibly imagine" Ephesians 3:20

Do you wonder if the pain of life will ever let up?

"One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, And I will take away all the pain you have suffered on this Earth." Revelation 21:3-4

Have you ever been unhappy with who you are?

"For you are fearfully and wonderfully made, I knit you together in your mother's womb" Psalm 139:13-14

These are just a few words to you by Your Father. Oh, how he loves you!

Girls, my heart has never been more stirred for women to believe Him! The deepest desire of my heart is for you to receive Him, know Him, and believe Him.

So many years, I received Him and knew Him....but I didn't believe Him. I knew He was good. I just didn't think all of these promises were for me.

When I started to believe Him, everything changed.

The fullness of Christ in my heart was finally fulfilled. I finally began to trust Him.

If you have been broken, bruised, abandoned, rejected, by someone in this world....

Please believe that you have been repaired, healed, received, comforted, and treasured by  Your Heavenly Father.

If you are like how I used to be, you may have a hard time believing it to be true for you.

Will you ask Him to help you believe? Ask Him for the faith to believe what He says about you is true.

Read His words of Love to you out loud over and over. Tears will sting your face as the reality of His Great Love settles in the deepest crevices of your beating heart.

I tell my daughter she is beautiful every single day.

Some days, she doesn't believe me.

It doesn't make my words not true.

The words are still true, even if she does not believe them in her heart.

Girls, the only thing missing in the greatest Love story you will ever know, is a believing heart.

Will you believe Him today?

His Pursuit for your heart will make your head spin.


believing Him finally,


jill

**Join as we read along in our daily reading plan. You can find it here. 

Feb 13, 2014

My 10th Grade Hope.....

Today, my whole family is at home, due to not being able to travel because of the ice and snow surrounding us.

If you do not live in Georgia, I am sure you have seen the news. Most of us are home bound due to the road conditions. For a homebody like me, it's heavenly.

I have my husband, my kids, my dog....and lots of milk and bread. :)

As I am surrounded by my favorite people, and tomorrow being Valentine's Day, I cannot help but to think of my 10th grade math teacher, Beth Crowley.

Mrs. Crowley was my favorite teacher...ever. She was beautiful, kind, funny, and most of all she LOVED and ADORED her family.

I would fall under her spell every day in class as she spoke about her husband and children. She would tell us stories about their day to day activities. My ears and heart absorbed every word.

On Valentine's Day she would wear panty hose (when people used to wear those!) with hearts on them. She would wear red or pink clothing and make that day so very festive.

My 10th grade year, the Lord used her in my life in such a huge way.

I was insecure. To the nth degree. Bad perm, braces, and oily, pimple prone skin.

God used Mrs. Crowley to plant hope in my heart. Hope that one day I would be a wife, and a mother, and tell stories about them to others.

From the time that I was a small girl, being a wife and mother was all I ever wanted. If someone were to ask me what I wanted to do, I would say "be a wife and a mommy".

Mrs. Crowley was living proof that the life that I so desired was real. It could happen, and it would happen.

God planted those desires in my heart so long ago, and He brought it all into fruition. More than I could ever imagine. I could not be more grateful.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Several years ago, I did a bible study that encouraged us to write a note to someone that influenced us growing up. The note was to thank them for the seeds that were sown in our hearts because of them.

I knew exactly who I would write...Mrs. Crowley. I sat down, wrote the letter, and found her address. Which was a miracle. An even bigger miracle was that she lived in the next city over from mine. What?!

I sent the letter, and a few weeks later, she wrote me back. I was thrilled!

Fast forward to this past Fall.

I led a bible study at my church, and was very nervous about it. I prayed and prayed  over the content, over the girls that would attend, and over every aspect of this group.

I had  no idea if anyone would even show up. Which, actually, would have been okay with me because of my nerves! :)

On the very first night of our study, a beautiful lady walked in the class.

It was Mrs. Crowley.

I could not believe my eyes! Could that be her?? What was she doing here...in this class? She didn't attend our church.....what in the world?

I immediately burst into tears.

She was so kind, and sweet and told me the story of how she was led to this class.

Girls, the Lord was all over this.

Here I was, standing at the front of the class, and there she was sitting down at a desk.

Our roles had reversed.

The Lord used her once again in my life. This time to calm my nerves, and give me strength as I led this class.

She brought so much wisdom and insight to our class being one of the more seasoned girls in attendance.

We now meet for coffee, text often, and pray for each other daily.

I still cannot believe how the Lord orchestrated all of this.

She is still a mentor to me, and always will be.

Is there someone in your life that God has used to encourage you along the way?

Our Fun Friday Challenge--a day early:


Write a letter to someone in your life that has made a difference. They may never know the difference they made until you tell them.

God plants people in our lives for this very reason. He uses others to spur us on and keep us encouraged.

Just like He used Mrs. Crowley in my life.

As I type this, the Lord just reminded me that He has given me the chance to tell stories about my family as well. Not in a 10th grade Math class, but on this very website. Countless stories about my little family have been shared on here.....and I cannot help but to smile and think about Mrs. Crowley.

He knows the desires of our hearts, girls. He planted them there.

Go, write that letter, and pray for the person He used or is still using to spur you on.

Although, I won't be wearing pink and white heart pantyhose tomorrow, I will be celebrating a fun holiday with my family. Just like Mrs. Crowley did.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4


snowed in with love,


jill

**Join as we read along in our daily reading plan. You can find it here. 

Feb 10, 2014

What are you running from?

We are moving quickly through the Bible, girls!

Did you even have a moment to absorb the book of Jonah we read over the weekend? I hope you inhaled it. So much to learn from our little Jonah friend!

Some of us learned in Sunday school many years ago about Jonah being swallowed by a whale. That is our greatest memory, right?

God wants to teach us so much more through Jonah.

To sum it up, God directed Jonah to go to Ninevah, a very sinful city, and preach to them.

God commanded Jonah "preach against it, because it wickedness has come up before me." Jonah 1:1-3

The very next verse makes me cringe. Why? Because I have done the exact same thing!

"But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord."

Gulp.

I underlined the first few words. These words screamed at me as I read them.

How many times have I ran away from God? Too many to count.

Many times in my life, I have felt the Lord nudge me to do something. If it scared me to death, I wouldn't do it. Not just walking away from His command, but running.

I have an example.

I have never spoken this out loud. To anyone. Not even my husband. {sorry Lem!}

A couple of years ago, I was asked by a friend to speak to some young girls at her church about a topic that I had struggled with......Fear.

I really didn't feel I was in a place to speak about a topic that I was still struggling in...a lot.

However, I knew the Lord would use that opportunity as a part of my healing. I knew in my heart that it was His way of stretching me and growing me in overcoming this debilitating disease of fear.

The day came, and guess what happened?

I backed out.

Yep, I really did.

Fear strikes again.

The score was  Fear-1, Jill- 0.

I told my friend that I was sick or that my children were sick..or something. I cannot even remember. That's what happens when we lie...we forget what we lied about!

In my mind, however, I didn't feel like I was lying. I felt like I was doing the other girls a favor and sparing them a story from a struggling fear addict...that still struggled.

It is a struggle for me to even write that story. It wasn't even that long ago.

Not only did I run away, but I landed right into a pit of sin when I ran. By covering it all up with a lie.

Yikes.

What happened to Jonah when he ran away? Trouble came. Big time.

Uhhh, like in the belly of a whale kind of trouble.

Thank goodness my escapade didn't lead me to the ocean in the mouth of a big fish, but it did lead me away from the Lord.

Just like Jonah, I ran.

Here is the funny thing....

Just like Jonah, God came to me a second time asking me to share my story.

This time....I obeyed.

Just like Jonah finally did.

What is God asking you to do that scares the life out of you??

I urge you to trust Him. He knows best.

He wouldn't ask you to do something that He hasn't already prepared you for.

We get ourselves in a big fat belly-of-a mess {sorry for the pun}, when we run from God.

Why waste all of that effort fighting and running from Him?

Let's obey Him the first time. Shall we?

Our memory verse for this week comes straight from the book of Jonah:


"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." 
Jonah 2:8

Two years ago, I forfeited the grace that I could have received from the Lord in the way of my healing. I clung to the worthless idol of fear. I thought that fear was bigger than my God.

How deceived I was.

What are you clinging to that is keeping you from the Grace that the Lord desires to pour upon you?

Let it go.

Trust Him.

Believe Him.



no more running,

jill




Feb 7, 2014

Pearls and Pigs.....

Something struck me in our reading from yesterday. We read Matthew chapter 7.

I read verse 6 several times over. "Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear them to pieces." 

I have recited this verse to my children in the past. I have told  them that they are sacred and holy, and that they should guard their bodies and hearts. I told them that it would be like throwing something sacred into a trash can. Or, like throwing their favorite toy or game into a mud pit with pigs.

Their bodies are holy because the Lord resides inside. They must use discernment at all times. I am not sure if they truly get this concept yet, but my prayer is that they will. My prayer is that they will honor the body and heart the Lord is taking up residence in and not get them trampled by the world.

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself." 1 Corinthians 6:19

The Lord laid something fresh on my heart yesterday in regards to this verse. All day I prayed and pondered what He was showing me.

We are to not only guard are own bodies and hearts against anything or anyone that would trample it, but we are to guard other things. Things that are sacred in the eyes of the Lord.


  • Our marriages.
  • Our children.
  • Our eyes from what we see and what we read.
  • Our ears from what we choose to listen to.
  • Our hands in what we touch.
  • Our feet in where we walk.
  • Our minds in what we choose to believe or meditate on.
  • Our mouths in what we speak.


There is so much to say on this.

 I will start with the one most near and dear to my heart....marriage.

Are we guarding our marriages with a dead bolt? Are we aware of the dangers that are lurking in the places we go together, or not go together?

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

Marriage is sacred in the eyes of the Lord.

We must treat it this way. We must guard it like a mama bear would guard its cub. With fierce and intense protection.

Do you know what the divorce rate is in the United States?

 40-50%!  I just googled it.

This proves that marriages are not guarded enough. It's extremely hard to break in a house with a security system and dead bolts. Right?

{Many spouses have guarded their marriages, and yet the other spouse did not. My heart breaks for this. I pray that if that was you who got trampled on even when you guarded that marriage faithfully, that the Lord will bring healing to your heart. Restoration and complete healing. In Jesus Name.}

Divorce is rampant on both sides of my family line. My parents are the only couple that have remained together among their many siblings.

This scares me. A lot.

I'm protective over Lem. He is the very first person I pray for each morning. I pray scriptures over him and I pray over every part of his body. Even his loins! {it's a fact}

I want to guard what we have. I cannot do this without the Lord's intervention. However, I must ask Him! I must lift Lem to Him regularly and tighten that dead bolt daily.

Not only do I pray for Lem, but I guard our conversations and the intimate details of our marriage. I don't want the enemy getting any kind of foothold into this marriage...especially by my own doing.

Another way the Lord has shown me how to guard our marriage, is to guard our time together. I try to make sure to sit with him on the couch {his favorite place} at the end of the day. I do not love sitting on the couch absorbing the latest sports game. BUT, I do this for him. I do this because he loves me right on that couch next to him.

Each time I put down whatever I am doing to just "sit" with him, I thank the Lord that I am the one that gets to sit with him and not some other girl!

I also know what makes Lem tick. I know what his love language is. His love language is VERY different from mine, but I try to love him in the way he desires to be loved. Some days are very hard to conjure up the love. If I'm being real.

However, on those days I turn to God and pray for strength to love him like he desires to be loved. I pray for God to remove anything in my heart preventing me from showing Lem the love I need to show him.

God shows up every single time.

Find out how your man desires to be loved. It may just be little things that don't mean much to you, but would mean the world to your man!

Love always returns dividends of love. Don't give up, even when you don't see those love dividends immediately. Keep going, keep loving.

We must guard our marriages, girls. The enemy wants your marriage. He wants my marriage. If the enemy can get into our marriage, he will do his best to destroy our entire family.

Let's tighten the locks, girls.

Lord, help us to guard and protect our marriages. Just like the scripture in Matthew says, we must not throw our marriage to the enemy to trample and destroy. We must be alert and on guard against the schemes of the enemy. Father, help us to be diligent in guarding our sacred marriage union. Help us to be aware of any behavior or activity that will hinder our marriage being protected. Let us not be naive in this world, but be filled with discernment and wisdom. Let us be focused on being vigilant and prayerful for our marriage. If there is any obstacle in the way of our marriage being pure, nurtured, and cared for...I pray You will remove those obstacles and draw our hearts back to our spouses. In Jesus name, amen.



armoring up,

jill


*Follow along with us in the daily reading plan. You can find it here. 

Feb 5, 2014

Check Yes or No....

Happy Worship Wednesday, sweet SHINE girls!

I sure hope and pray you are all staying in His Word. Life gets busy, it gets hard to make it happen some days. However, when we make Him our first priority, everything seems to just shift, doesn't it?

When we "seek Him first", we notice His Grace more in our days. This is just a fact.

As I ponder our memory verse this week, the Lord has been revealing some things to my heart.

Our memory verse is: " All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes
from the evil one."  Matthew 5:37

If we jump to the verse before this one, verse 36, we read: "And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black."

So, the context here is in regards to making an emphatic oath, or swearing. Such as: "I swear I really do love you!"

However, the Lord has shown me this verse in another way. He has made this verse more personal to me than just swearing.

Maybe this week, you have been thinking this verse doesn't really apply to you, or it just wasn't speaking to you like other verses do.

I ask for your sweet little ear for a minute...:)

As women, we are stretched thin. Beyond thin. We have to-do lists a mile and half long. And that's on a slow day.

We make it our motto to "stay busy". We often believe that if we are busy, we are productive. When we are busy, we are important. When we are busy, we make others think that we can do it all...and with a smile.

Now, compound that by a thousand if you are a people pleasing kind of girl. You don't want to let others down. They are depending on you for heaven's sake! What would they think if you said "no"?

This is where the Lord has been stretching me over the past 2 years.

In the past, I would feel so guilty if I had to say no. I would feel so guilty, that I would over-explain myself. Over and over.

And over.

Not only that, but I would stretch the truth a bit to sound even more justifiable for saying "no".

{did I just say that out loud??}

The poor person getting the explanation was probably exhausted from my exhaustive explanation!

It was like I was trying to convince them and persuade them to believe that I had justification for saying no. Especially if that "no" was to a good thing. Which made it even harder to have to say no. Which made my explanations even more exhausting, if that was even possible.

To make it even more difficult, if I didn't feel like I had a reasonable or justifiable excuse for saying no, I would say "yes". Knowing that I did not have peace about the thing, I still would move forward and say yes.

Why?

I did not want the person to think I was lazy or non-caring, or not "capable" of handling whatever it was. So, I would just say yes. Knowing that my heart and my peace-meter were saying....NOOOOO.

There are several scriptures that talk about using too many words...or in my case, over explaining the heck out of my answer.

"Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." Proverbs 10:19

Uhhh, yeah, that's pretty straight forward.

Or, how about this doozie:

"Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool." Ecclesiastes 5:3

So, basically, I was restless AND a fool. {taking a bow}

The Holy Spirit resides in us, if we are His. If we have confessed Jesus as our Savior and Lord, His residence is INside of us.

 “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my ways.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

So, when we lack peace about saying "yes", it's because the Holy Spirit inside of us is putting on the brakes.

The Holy Spirit protects us and guides us. However, what happens when we go outside of that protection and onto our own path? We are out of His Will for our lives.

That is a scary place to be.

I have been there, done that, and never want to return.

Okay, so you are thinking, little things that we say "yes" to even when we don't feel peace about it don't really matter, right?

I mean, how bad could if be if our reasoning for that "yes" is to help someone out, or to fill a gap that needs to be filled?

This is how I see it:

When I go down that unpeaceful path of saying "yes" to something I knew I needed to say "no" to, I miss what He had in store for me if I would have said no.

 I also see it as robbing someone else of the opportunity to say YES to that thing. If I move out of the way, because the Lord is telling me to put on the brakes, it clears the way for someone else to step up.

The Lord sees our future, He knows what is ahead for us. If He sees something hindering the journey He will gently nudge us to step away.

I challenge all of us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. We don't need to explain ourselves to death. Too many words make us fools, remember?

Let's don't let the opinion of what others will think if we say "no" dictate our peace- meter.

The only One we need approval from is the Lord. He is the One we are seeking to please and honor.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10


keeping the peace,

jill


*Follow along with us in our daily reading plan. You can find it here.

Feb 3, 2014

Memory Monday....

I love having a verse to memorize each week. It keeps me accountable.

Hopefully, you feel the same way. I encourage you to memorize scripture with us. It's life changing.

Today, no lengthy post, just God's Word.

Are you ready?

All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No';
anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:37


It's a brand new month...February.

Make this month your starting point on memorizing scripture. Write it down on a notecard or somewhere you will see it daily.

Do you have a creative way to memorize scripture??

Email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com and tell me or show me in a picture! I would love to know!

Lord, bless our SHINE sisters. Draw their precious hearts close to You today. Give them strength to face a new week and all that You have in store for them. Let their lights shine bright for You, Jesus. Give them favor wherever they go. Direct and order their steps, and lead them down the path You have prepared for them. Help us to be disciplined, and self-controlled. Give us the desire to read Your Word and memorize it.

We love You. In Jesus Name, Amen.


memorizing,

jill


*Follow along with us in our daily reading plan. You can find it here.