Feb 28, 2015

Are you lonesome tonight?

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[Yes, the title of this is from an Elvis song. If you know me, you know I love Elvis. Please, love me anyway]

It never fails to amaze me how scripture can come alive each time you read it.

I remember reading in Exodus, these very passages, a couple of years ago. The Lord spoke so much to my heart at that time. He showed me how I had tendencies to be JUST like the Israelites in the wilderness. Always complaining, Never satisfied. Looking to someone or something else, instead of Him, for direction. The list could go on.

He showed me that my constant desire for "what was ahead" instead of enjoying Him in the present was keeping me from being content. He is all I need. The end. He is enough. The end.

Fast forward to reading through Exodus in this season in my life. I see a different teaching.

I have shared with some very close friends, and now with you trustworthy friends, that I often struggle with loneliness. It's no fun. And I just do not get it.

Even surrounded by family and friends, I can get extremely lonely.

As I read about Moses, the thing that strikes my heart so hard about him is that he must have been lonely!

So far, the reading hasn't mentioned him being lonely, but I just have a huge inclination to believe that he struggled with feeling lonely.

The Israelites often were upset with him. They even tried to go back to Egypt because they were so miserable and without hope and faith. EVEN after God led them through the Red Sea and crushed the Egyptian army, these Israelites still did not believe that God was with them.

Can't we all be a little like the Israelites?? Despite a mighty work by the Hands of God, we still fall into unbelief once the goodness and awe has worn off.

So, back to Moses and his loneliness.

Although he was surrounded by thousands of people, his heart must have felt alone.

Did he have anyone to bounce things off of? Yes, he did have Aaron and Hur. However, he was still the one leading. The one in charge. The one that had to relay God's messages, even when the messages were not what the people wanted to hear.

If we are honest, don't we all struggle with loneliness at times? Feeling like no one could possibly understand what's happening in our hearts? Feeling even at a loss for words of how to describe what you are feeling?

Just this week, I was having one of those days.

I was driving. As usual.

I picked up the phone to call my husband, Lem, he did not answer. I needed to talk. I needed to share. I needed him to understand. Even though I did not even understand how I was feeling.

After he did not answer, I racked my brain for someone to call that I could just spill it all out to....

No one came to mind.

Yes, there are plenty of people that would have listened. But, really, truthfully, that is not what I needed.

I needed God.

Right there. Right then.

Immediately, I went to the Lord in prayer. Sobbing my ever-lovin' caked on mascara eyes out.

"Lord, I don't get it! Why do I feel this way? What is happening? I know You know how I feel, but I need you to help me understand this."

As soon as the words left my lips, I heard a gently whisper in my spirit. "You need Me, Jill. The loneliness is a deep and gaping need for Me. Don't try to fill it with other people. Come to Me."

I sobbed some more.

Right there in that moment, I realized that this would be a life time struggle. My heart will never be completely content until I am Home with my Lord. Loneliness will always be a signal of my Home awaiting for me one sweet day.

It's a longing that is unexplainable. No one and nothing can fill it. But God.

As I listen to the stories of others that I talk to, I realize this is true. Loneliness can disguise itself in many ways. Through addiction, depression, anxiety, fear...so many masks.

What we really crave is Him. 

Moses is no different. Although he was chosen to lead the people to a new and wonderful place, his heart must have been in a deep and lonely place longing for his permanent residence with God.

The Promised Land that Moses was leading these people to would never take the place of their need for God. It was a gift from God. A promise from God. But, never was it intended to take the place of God.

If you are lonely today, lift that sweet chin up to your Father in Heaven. He gets it. Oh, how He gets it. He is waiting on you to come to Him. Drop everything else, and go to Him. NOTHING can heal that lonely spot but Him.

I'm thankful for women around me that understand and will encourage. I'm thankful that I have women around me that point me straight back to Christ when I am in this place.

Maybe you are not in a lonely season, but I will bet you my favorite lip gloss that someone very close to you is lonely. Seek them out. Pray for them. Pray with them. Point the way to Christ.



lonely for Him,


jill






Feb 20, 2015

Forty.....

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We are right smack dab in the middle of reading about Moses. Moses, one of my favorite people in the Bible.

I think about Moses constantly, even when I am not reading about him.

He inspires me to trust God, despite my obvious lack of ability. He inspires me to listen to His Voice, even when others may not get it or think I have lost my ever-lovin' mind.  He reminds me to trust God's timing, even when it seems impossible that the land of milk and honey will come after such a long journey.

But, today, I am not writing about Moses. No, not today.

I am writing about Jesus.

As Lent begins, for the next 40 days, I still find myself in a state of mourning over the state of our world.

I cannot shake the images of 21 men losing their lives because of their belief in Christ.

We are those men.

We are those men.

The only difference is, we are still on Earth, and they are united with the Father in Heaven.

I cannot stop praying over our world.

Two night ago, I woke up covered in sweat. I was awakened by a voice telling me to "Pray for Church 213".

Church 213 is a local church that was just burned to the ground over the weekend. As far as I know, I do not know anyone at this church, yet, I am mourning for this church.

Even in my dreams, God reminds me to pray for Church 213.

However, I think I get why God is asking me to pray for Church 213.

We are Church 213. 

We are being burned to the ground. All over the world.

"You are dust, and to dust you shall return" Ecclesiastes 3:20

Our faith is being tested, by the sword. Literally.

Yet, I am consumed by my own needs. My own comfort. My own desires.

Myself makes me sick at times.

Who do I love more? Myself or Christ?

I really want the answer to be Christ.

For the next 40 days, I want to rid myself of self. Fill myself with Christ.

Will you join me in prayer?

Will you participate in Lent with me?

When Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days without food, He lost Himself to the Call of His Father. To minister to us. To pray for us. To save us.

 It was all for us. 

I want to starve myself from the food that my flesh feeds on for the next 40 days.

The things that separate me from Christ. Fear, Pride, Self-loathing, Self-love, Approval of others, the desire to be comfortable...the list goes on.

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

In order to point others to Christ, we must take the spotlight off of self.

Instead of a 24 hour prayer challenge, how about a 40 days of prayer challenge.

We need it. The church needs it. Our world needs it.

Desperately.


40 days of Him,


jill

Feb 18, 2015

God help us...




I am sickened by the news. Words cannot convey what my heart feels. Going through the motions of every day life has become difficult.

People are hurting. People are suffering. People are dying. At the hands of evil.

Our Christian brothers and sisters are being tortured because of their faith.

Why should I be surprised? God's Word clearly tells us that the Christian people will be persecuted for believing in the Son of God. Persecution is nothing new to our faith.

Jesus' disciples were all persecuted for His Name.

Yet, my heart still hurts.

I know this is how our world will play out until Jesus returns, yet I cling to His comfort and peace as the days grow darker here on Earth.

The more I hear the news of Christians being persecuted, I think to myself, "How can a person not believe? Everything in the Bible that was prophesied has come true and is still coming true."

There are approximately 2500 propehecies in God's Word. Do you know how many have come into fulfillment thus far? 2000. Yep. 2000.

 "Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 10 to the 2000th power (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)!" [excerpt from www.reasons.org]

Friends, if you need proof of His Word being true, it's here!

I keep hearing this verse in my heart from Isaiah, and it reminds me that God is all knowing and none of this is a surprise to Him.

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you. Isaiah 60:2

Yes, darkness is here. Evil is here.

Yet, so is God.

His Kingdom will prevail.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

I am also reminded of Habakkuk's prayer:


Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;

    in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:1-2


What can WE do?

We pray.

Fervently.

Just like Jesus did.

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7

We must make the time to pray.

We must remove ourselves from whatever we are doing during the day and pray.

Find a closet. A bathroom. Anything.

Or in your car. Cooking dinner.

I have a friend that goes to her bathroom at work and hits her knees [literally] and prays throughout the day.

Jesus set the example for us. We must follow Him.

The lives of many around us, including our children, are desperate for our prayers.

For the next 24 hours, I implore us all to pray in unity. Lifting our voices high to the One who hears, and answers. Will you spread the word to your friends and family? All who will pray?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

We have to wake up! Our eyes have been pried open to the evil around us. This kind of evil can only be overcome by prayer.

Read Mark 9:20-29 if you have a minute. Jesus removes the evil spirit in a boy at his father's request. The father is plagued with unbelief. Yet, the father admits his unbelief and asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.

After healing the boy, the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to heal the boy, and this was Jesus' answer:

"He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer" Mark 9:29

Though unbelief can plague me at times like this, I will call on the One who can restore my belief. The One Who is greater than the evil that is in the world.

Through prayer, my belief will be restored, and the world be shaken on behalf of the Power of God.

Will you join me for the next 24 hours in prayer?

He hears our cries and He will answer.

Maybe we cannot go to a foreign land and proclaim the gospel,  or start a street ministry spreading the good news of Jesus. BUT, we can pray!

Our prayers are needed just as much as our service.

What if it were our children being  beheaded? Certainly, we would be desperate for our Christian brothers and sisters to pray on our behalf.

Let's pray,


jill



Feb 17, 2015

Avoiding Extremes....

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This post has nothing to do with our reading. But everything to do with our peace.

I wrote this on my personal blog back in August. I had to look back on it, because I can get stuck in fear. Over and over.

The Lord is nudging me to post it here for you girls to see. Maybe some of you can relate and will find some freedom today. That is my prayer.

Avoiding Extremes

When bad things happen around me, I tend to go in lock down mode.

Let me explain.

When I hear the horrible news of children getting cancer, or young mothers and fathers coming down with deadly diseases, I panic.

I tend to think that surely there is something I can do to protect my loved ones. Surely if we consume more organic fruits, veggies, and vitamins, we will be spared.

God recently pointed me to some of the most powerful words in scripture that He has ever shown me. He may as well have knocked me over the head with a brick. It was that profound.

It was a normal day. I had visited our local "health" food store and spent more money than was in my budget that week. Of course, I rationalized it as "doing something good for my family."

I came home, and went to one of my favorite health/natural living blogs. I was making sure I got all of the vitamins and concoctions that she had told me that I needed to keep my family "safe".

Check. I had everything. We were "safe".

Later that day, I was having my quiet time with the Lord. Just sitting there doing my thing, flipping through the Bible and asking Him to speak to me.

He did. Big time.

Here is the first verse He showed me:

“Do not call conspiracy
    everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
    and do not dread it.
 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
    he is the one you are to fear,
    he is the one you are to dread.
Isaiah 8:12-14


I was fearing what people fear. I was putting my faith and trust in worldly things instead of in Christ Jesus. It was crystal clear what He was telling me.

The next verse He showed me brought such a relief to my soul. I will write this verse down and tape it up in my kitchen. Maybe even tattoo it to my wrist, although it is long, so maybe my thigh. :)

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.  Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." I Timothy 4:1-8

God is telling me that I should not fear what goes into my body, or what does not go into my body. He is bigger than vitamins, organic chicken, and phosphate-free soap. Pray before eating. Give thanks to Him before eating. Put my trust in Him, not the cleanness of my food.

He is the One that keeps me safe. If I reverse the order and make "safety" an idol, I move Him out of first place in my life.

If I look to the world to "preserve" my temporal body in a way that is out of balance with my trust and faith in His protection,  then I live in a self-made, self-protected illusion.

My goal here on Earth is to work on the eternal treasures, not on the temporal. My body is temporal. It will not be with me, at least in the sense of how it is now. My spirit will go on, the gifts of the Spirit will live in eternity.

The Lord freed me that day. He was telling me to pray before I partake in any food. Give thanks for that food. And enjoy.

I am set free from the self-condemning thought of not always being able to feed my kids organic, grain-fed, grass-fed, or whatever else kind of "fed" I am told I should be feeding them. I cannot keep up. I never will. The list is too long.

I will instead pray for guidance from Him, and not the world. I will pray for Him to lead me in this daunting task of motherhood and protecting my kids. I cannot do it without Him. I cannot do it with the world's wisdom.

However, I can do it with His help. With prayer, and thanksgiving, I can do this. I can live a guilt-free, fear-free life of freedom in Christ.


"So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law." Galatians 5:1

My prayer is that God will take away any desire of my flesh that wants to "preserve" it. I am asking Him to preserve the "eternal" in my life. To not just preserve the eternal but to grow it and give me craving and burning desire for those things.

The fruits of the Spirit that will live on in eternity....


 love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.

I want to grow these fruits. I want to focus on these things and not self-preservation.

Please hear me when I say that I am not saying we should neglect our bodies and abuse them with things that we know to be hazardous. Or, that we should not have a desire to be healthy.

I am saying that our desire to be healthy should be kept in check and in balance. Our desire to be physically healthy should not overrule our desire for our spiritual health.

We should read labels, we should be aware of what goes into our bodies. However, we should be the most concerned with the eternal fruit that comes forth from our spirits.

"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17


"It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city." Ecclesiastes 7:18-19

I can breathe a sigh of relief that I am not in charge. I never was. God is sovereign, and He always has been. I will trust Him, I will listen for His voice, and I will enjoy life instead of fearing it.


breathing a sigh of relief,


jill


Feb 16, 2015

Help me with my kids please....

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As I finished the last chapter in Genesis, I closed my Bible and had a moment of silence with Jesus.

Tears flooded my eyes because I was not ready for this book to end. I had grown close to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The words on the pages of my bible came alive in my spirit and my heart.

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I prayed this prayer:

"Lord, I want to be like them! Please give me a heart to follow Your commands. Not just follow Your commands, but to teach Your commands to my children. Lord, let my children love Your Word! How can I teach them to love Your Word? Show me, Father. I want them to crave Your commands and Your Truth more than anything in their precious lives. Please help me to teach them well, Lord. Not just by my words, but by my actions."

I opened my Bible back up and started the book of Exodus. After reading two chapters, I wept to the Lord again. Y'all God's Word is tearing me up!

I am changed each time I read it. My heart desires more and more and more. His Word is Alive. It's true.

His Word is teaching me about motherhood. In a profound way. Although the Old Testament was written over two thousand years ago, it still resonates with us. Exactly the way God intends it to do.

Our spiritual ancestors are teaching us how to pray for our kids. How to teach our kids. How to live a life of faith for our children to bear witness to.

In a world that tries to annihilate our children daily with pornography, addiction, perversion, body image issues, material wealth, and so much more...

We are not left without a weapon to fight back! We have God Almighty on our side! NOTHING else can fight the enemy and his fiery lies like God's Word and prayer.

The two combined are the deadliest combination we have this side of Heaven. We must use them.

 "..in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. " Ephesians 6:16-17


"And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22


For many years, my weapons sat dusty on a shelf. My Bible was never opened. Ever. My prayer life was stagnant, unless I was extremely desperate.

His Word has changed all of this. His Word has taught me how to be equipped. Equipped to fight the battle the enemy wages against me and my family.

Never again, will I be without my weapons of warfare.

Our children are in the fight of their lives and they have no idea. The dangers are lurking on social media, in their schools, outside of their schools, everywhere.

The battle is REAL.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. " 1 Peter 5:8

The enemy is on attack and we must learn from our spiritual ancestors.

We MUST pray.

We MUST teach them God's Word.

We MUST be diligent over their comings and goings.

Who are they hanging out with? Who are their friends on social media? What kind of comments are they leaving on friends pages? What kinds of comments are being left on their pages?

We MUST open our eyes.  The enemy is waging war on the hearts and minds of our children. God has given us the job of protecting them, equipping them. If we don't, who will?

Our churches are wonderful, but they are only an accessory to us in raising our children. It is not the church's job to be the sole care giver of our children's spiritual growth.

It us up to us...the parents.

We must quit being so defensive over our children, and scared of hurting their feelings when we tell them "no". We are not called to "make them happy", we are called to "train them in the way they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it." [proverbs 22:6]

We must come together as parents and support each other in this daunting task of child-rearing. When we see a child in danger, we must love the child and the parent enough to shed light on the situation. We must be able to talk to each other as parents and express our concerns over each other's children.

When we shut down and become defensive over our children,  it blinds us to truth, and our children are left paying the consequences of our pride.

Not sure about you, but pride went out the window when I birthed my first baby! Nothing brings us to the lowest rung of the humility ladder like our children. Just when we think we deserve a "Mother of the year" award, they will do something to knock that title right out of our prideful little hands. Oh yes. Every time.

For the record, please always let me know if my children are in danger. Whether they are in danger of a bad reputation,  poor character, or  actual physical danger--I want to know. If you see my child or hear of my child doing something that could endanger them, please love me enough to tell me. It may sting and hurt, but I cannot help my child if I do not know they are in danger.

Our society and culture has spoken fear into the hearts of parents. Fear of "getting involved". Teaching us to just "mind our own business" instead of helping each other out when we are in need. Fear of being "too overbearing" or not "politically correct" as parents.

This is contrary to God's Word.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

We must love each other enough to pray for each other. Support each other. Encourage each other. Speak the truth in love when needed.

We must love our own children enough to open our eyes. Check their phones. Check their computers. Check out their whereabouts. Regularly.

If they have a phone, Ipad, or tablet, remove them from their rooms at night. [I learned this from my pastor]. Put them in a place where they cannot access them. Our children may not like it, but one day they will thank us for it.

 Ignorance is not bliss when raising our children. Ignorance is dangerous.

If we are too busy to do this, we are too busy.

God never intended for busyness to take the place of raising our children.

He has equipped us with everything we need to fight the enemy as he battles for the hearts of our children. We must be prepared for warfare.

A war needs an army. An army of believing parents. Standing together in the trenches, outside of the trenches, and equipped with God's Word and prayer.

Even with standing on the Word of God over our children, and praying the daylights over them, our children may still stumble. And greatly.

This is a call to persist. At all costs. Never give up on God's plan for your children. He can do mighty things with a mistake-filled life. Just ask Jacob, and Moses, and King David.

"Instead of your shame you will have a double portion" Isaiah 61:7

As we fall on our faces before God and ask Him to help us in our parenting, let's remember to:

-Pray.
-Read His Word daily.
-Pray for accountability in parenting--friends, family, neighbors. Others that can help keep watch over our children.
-Ask God for wisdom in parenting. Ask Him all day long!


"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5


Gosh, Genesis has taught us a lot, hasn't it?

Let's keep reading,


jill



Feb 12, 2015

The struggle is real.....

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When our children hurt, our hurt is quadrupled. We want to take their hurt away immediately.

Several months ago my daughter was struggling. I was trying to talk her through the struggle, and give her wisdom along the way. She did not want to receive it. She kept re-hashing over and over the hurt until finally tears were flowing.

I stopped her mid stream of her tears and prayed with her. I could barely get out my amen before she went over the incident again. And again. And again.

I wanted her to understand that the pain is real. Yes. However, re-visiting the pain was only opening the wound for her.

Desperately, I wanted her to see my perspective and how I could see that everything was going to turn out okay. She would be fine. She would eventually forget, and barely be able to recall this pain.

However, at the moment, her 9 year old perspective was skewed. She was hurt. And she wanted to stay there for a while.

Okay, I get it.

I gave her another day before talking through things with her again.

She was still there. In the pain.

Ugh.

I asked her if she was ready to start learning some things to counteract pain when we her feelings are hurt. She said no.

Alrighty then.

Well darling baby girl, I am going to teach you anyway.

As I was encouraging her to go straight to prayer in times like these, she said it was just too hard to pray when she was hurting.

I get it. Oh, do I get it.

I was jolted by the fact that I also feel too hurt to pray sometimes. I want to wallow in the pain and mull it over in my head. In fact, even asking others to pray for me becomes an attempt to talk about it again. Yikes. Often I am not asking sincerely for prayer, more for a vent session. In my head,  the more I talk about it, the more it will make sense. Nope, not the case.

The next thing I told her to do was to go to God's Word to counteract the hurt.

If words were what hurt you, find scripture that encourages you and speaks the Truth of who you really are.

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14

If loneliness is what burdens you...

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

If a broken heart is your struggle...

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

I told her that we aren't born with the knowledge of scripture. We must study it, know it, and recite it if it is to be our Sword against the enemy and his lies.

"Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17

"I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you" Psalm 119:11

She asked me what "so that I may not sin against you" meant. I prayed a quickie prayer for God's wisdom and told her this: Sometimes when we are faced with a battle and feel hurt or overwhelmed, our flesh wants to fight back with sin. For example, gossip. Or hurting the other person that hurt us. Or, wanting to slap the fire out of someone. [well, sometimes we do!]

I told her that seeking God's Word for wisdom would lead us to the choice that would honor God and bring our hearts the most peace.

It's not just scripture memory or recitation, it's forming a relationship with the One Who we are studying. We begin to know Him, we begin to believe Him. We begin to take on His Character.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." John 1:14

Her eyes were searching for understanding as I spoke. I prayed that God would convey to her heart the message in a way that she could understand. He knows her heart best.

Again, as I spoke the words to her, I felt His Light shining bright on areas of my heart where I needed to apply the same wisdom. Times when I was hurt and wanted to pull away, fight back, return a hurt, or build a wall....

I hear Him whisper, "Love them anyway."

This is hard no matter how long we have been walking with the Lord. I do believe it can get easier the more we practice it though. Or at least that's what I am banking on!

Often we will find ourselves at a loss. We want to do the right thing, say the right thing, but we just don't know what to do.

I get it.

Here is where God's Word comes in and lights the way.

"Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light for my path" Psalm 119:105

I am so tempted to take control of the situation for my children. I want to tweak it and twist it and make it fair and just. Or at least my version of fair and just

How are they ever going to learn to lean on God if I do, though?

How will they ever know the peace that surpasses all understanding unless they seek the Lord for guidance?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

My job is to point my children to the Lord. He is the Rock that will hold. Not me.

Early on in this SHINE ministry, I struggled with what to write about. I was worried that many could not relate to my struggles.

Sweetly and right on time, God reminded me that pointing the way to Him was all He asked of me. The rest was up to Him.

It takes all the pressure off, friends. As mothers, as friends, as leaders, as teacher...

Just point the way to Him.

He will do the rest.

"It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4


let's point the way,


jill






Feb 11, 2015

What's your story?

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I sure hope you are devouring the book of Genesis. Really, there is nothing more exhilarating and breathtaking than the Word of God.

Nothing in Hollywood could come close to the script written by our God. Everything pales in comparison to His matchless Word.

Reading about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph has really gotten my attention. I think about them constantly.

One thing about these men that really stands out is their faithfulness. They definitely made their share of mistakes, but goodness gracious they are faithful.

Abraham leaves his homeland and everything he knows in order to fulfill the Promise of a new land that the Lord has for Him. He also faithfully believes that God will give him a child as He promised, even in his old age.

Isaac is the faithful offspring of Abraham who prays for his barren wife, Rebekah. He is then blessed with twins. Jacob and Esau.

Jacob is a sneaky fellow, stealing his brother's birth right, but ends up being a strong man of God.

Joseph is the beloved son of Jacob who endures much suffering at the hands of his jealous brothers. He then becomes wealthy and prosperous and forgives his brothers for their treachery.

Would you leave your hometown and everything you know for the unknown?

Would you still believe God for a child if you were 100 years of age?

Would you be willing to forgive your siblings for selling you into slavery?

These men were not just bold in their faith, but they were bold in their actions.

They believed what God had told them. They trusted Him even when things seemed impossible. They didn't just talk the talk, they walked the walk. Even when everyone else turned against them.

We have the advantage of knowing the end of their story. We know how things turn out for these guys, and we are encouraged by their lives.

However, our faith gets shaky sometimes because we just don't know. We can't see the end so we can doubt God and His faithfulness.

Circumstantial faith is what I call it. When things are looking good, we love God and believe Him.

When things are unclear and shaky, we doubt His goodness, we lose our faith and we try to take control.

We often give up just before we see the Promised Land. We turn back and decide to try another route. A safer one. A route with less terrain and less friction. A more popular and people approved route.

If we want to have the faith of Abraham, we have to keep moving. Pushing through in prayer when doubt comes. Proclaiming the Promises written in His Word even when we don't see a lick of goodness.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

"And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith" Genesis 15:6

Have you given up on God today? Is the road too long, too painful, too lonely to endure another day on this path?

Oh, friend. I encourage you to stay the course. Put your trust back into His Faithful, Sovereign Hands. Let Him lead you straight to the Promised Land of His Goodness. 

Do not give up. He will never leave you, He will never forsake you. [Deuteronomy 31:6]

I read in a book recently that sometimes the walk of faith is a group walk, and other times we have to walk single file. Single file can be lonely, but He promises us that we are never alone. 

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand" Psalm 73:23

When you get weary, think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. He loves you just as much as He loved them. And He has a story written just for you that will blow your precious mind if you let Him. 

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Your story is still being written. Take His hand and let Him show you the way. 


letting Him write my story, 


jill

Feb 6, 2015

Second Best.....

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"Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” Genesis 29:16-18

Oh, Leah. Leah, Leah, Leah. I want to be your friend. I want to tell you to forget about Jacob and find someone that loves you and cherishes you. However, this is not the case in your story. Your story is a sad one. Full of heartache, jealousy, rejection, and unrequited love. 

I cannot help but to have such compassion and empathy for Leah. She was not loved by her husband. Not only was she unloved, but she shared the same husband as her beautiful younger sister, Rachel. Rachel was the one Jacob loved, cherished, and adored. Not Leah. 

However, we can learn something from Leah's story. We can see a love story unfold underneath the layers of hurt and rejection of her own husband, Jacob. 

We can see the love of the Father lavished onto a lonely and desperate heart. 

God hears Leah's cries for children, and He blesses her. In her deepest and darkest hours of loneliness, He provides. 

Sometimes we see God the clearest in our darkest hour. 

Leah found her true Love, with God. 

God provided what Leah's heart really cried for....

To be noticed. 

To be cared for.

To be cherished. 

To be adored. 

To be first. 

To be loved. 

Can you resonate with Leah's story? Surely, at some point in our lives we have felt like Leah. We have felt left behind, left out, different, rejected, unattractive, unwanted, second-best, and unloved. 

I know I have. And it hurts. Deeply. 

Maybe you are Leah. Maybe you are in a situation that is unfair. Maybe your heart is so broken that you would not even know how to start putting it back together. 

Broken hearts are His specialty. In our brokenness, we see Him. If we choose to look. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

He's the Love our hearts truly desire. His Love mends the brokenness and heals the deepest wounds. 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

But, in order to see Him, we have to look up. We cannot stay fixed on our brokenness and injustice. 

When we look up, we see Him. He's been there all along. Waiting for us to see Him. Notice Him. Love Him. Adore Him. Cherish Him. 

"We love Him because He first loved us" 1 John 4:19

He's the Love we have searched high and low for. Never knowing He was right there all along. 

Now, that's a love story, my friend. 

Yes, Leah's story is sad. Oh, but she wins the Prize in the end. Yes, indeed. 

And so do you. 

"That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

A few minutes before typing this post, my daughter asked me to read her something from scripture. She was trying to go to sleep and felt fearful. 

She asked me to tell her what God would say to her. I happily obliged. 

I picked up my bible, and read to her Psalm 139. I inserted her name. A love note from God to her. 

She smiled so sweetly as I read it to her. Then, within minutes, her eyes closed and she fell asleep. 

Sometimes, we have to be reminded. We forget just how precious we are to Him. We forget how He longs to soothe us, comfort us, lavish us, and cherish us. 

Here is our reminder for when we forget. Insert your name into this scripture, and read God's love letter to you....



Psalm 139


1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.




Feb 4, 2015

Don't look back.....

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"But Lot's wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt." Genesis 19:26

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most fascinating stories of the Old Testament. I am so intrigued by this entire chapter. There are many things that leave me scratching my head in this particular story, but I am left seeing the Lord's goodness and faithfulness in a staggering way.

For the last week or so, since reading this chapter, I cannot quit thinking about Lot's wife. God chose to save Lot and his family. He sent His angels to give them specific instructions to flee the wretched city that He was about to demolish.

God was very clear in His instructions:

"As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" Genesis 19:16-17

God clearly warned the family not to look back.

Lot's wife looked back. And she was turned into a big pile of salt the second she did.

Why did she look back? Why in the world would she risk the safety of God's leading to look back on a burning city?

Good question. For all of us.

Why do we continually look back? Why do we go back to the past in our minds and re-live things? Why do we long for the good old days? Why do we drive ourselves crazy with "what could have been?"

My thought is that the enemy is ever so diligent in reminding us to look back so that we won't move forward with the Goodness of God.

Our flesh wants what we know. What we knew.

Yet, our spirits are craving to go with Him. To move forward. To not look back.

Our flesh often wins this battle. We don't even realize we have succumbed to looking back until our contentment is gone and our peace is shattered.

The Bible says that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. [1 Corinthians 3:19] So, the world tells us to hang onto our youth, invest in the anti-aging movement, cling to what you have, and preserve ourselves at any cost.

Yet, we all know that with each passing day, each new wrinkle, each new birthday, we are one day closer to Eternity with Him. Each day that time moves us forward, we are getting closer to seeing our Lord face to Precious Face.

The world wants to stop time, look back, and reclaim time.

God wants us moving forward. Focused on His Face. Not looking back.

Paul teaches us in Philippians 3:3"But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead."

When we continue to look back, we are questioning God's goodness and faithfulness for our present and our future.

Lot's wife would have been led to a new place to start over. A beautiful new town to begin again.

Instead, she doubted God's goodness and looked back. She just needed one more glance at her old life. And it cost her everything.

Whatever you face today, remember God is Good. What He has prepared for you will blow your precious mind if you go with Him. Don't live in the regret, heartache, grief, or hopelessness. There's nothing worth looking back upon when compared to the Goodness of what He has prepared for you.

Each step we take forward brings us closer to Him.

"Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later."Romans 8:18

When you feel overwhelmed, afraid, fearful, regretful, grief-stricken, lonely, or depressed today, I want you to say, "God is good."

You may have to say it a million time, but say it anyway. God is good.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

no looking back,


jill