Jun 30, 2015

Wanna know a secret?

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For the last week or so, I have been digging deep into the New Testament. Don't worry, I am still knee deep in the book of 1Chronicles from our SHINE Reading Plan. [Yawn]. Oops, did I just say that out loud? Just kidding. I love it. Really, I do. [okay, you got me. It's not my favorite chapter]

My soul has been craving the words of Jesus. I need to know what He would do when faced with certain situations. I need His Words. I need His Wisdom desperately.

Sometimes, my mind gets cloudy and I get confused. "What is right, Lord? I don't know how to feel about this. What would you do? What would you say? What would you not say? Help."

So, me and my soul go to the New Testament and read. And study. And pray. And read. And pray some more.

Do you want to know a little secret? Okay, lean in closer.

When I am in a situation where I am unsure. Uncertain what to say. What to do. What to think.

This is what I do...

I immediately stop. Ask God for a Word. Something. Anything. Throw me something, Father! Please don't leave your girl hanging.

He never fails to answer, friends. EVER. This is how He answers...

In scripture from His Word. Every single time.

For example, recently I was struggling with a decision. Big time.

When I [finally] stopped my mind from thinking about it and turned my heart over to God to pray about it, I received an answer immediately.

He said this: "I am not the Author of confusion, but of Peace."

Bam. Straight from 1 Corinthians 14:33.

I knew as soon as I heard those words in my spirit what the answer was to my dilemma. One option gave me peace, the other was more messy. Too many variables and unknowns.

He is so faithful to answer, we just have to ask Him.

I believe He longs to speak to us. To lead us. To guide us. To show us the way.

We must get to know Him and His Words if we want Him to speak, friends. We must make getting to know Him our first priority above anything else.

How do we do this with all of the demands of life tugging at us?

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

Read His Word. “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Pray. Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Make this your habit. Your daily routine.

Friends, it will change your life. It will change your family's life.

Devotionals, worship songs, good sermons, inspirational quotes......those are all wonderful tools in our faith toolbox. However, we won't get the fulfillment that our souls truly crave unless we go to the Bread of Life and eat from His Word.

Girlfriend, there is NOTHING on Earth like spending time with your Heavenly Father. Nothing. And everything else in life will seem sweeter after time spent with Him.

stopping, reading, and praying,


jill


Jun 11, 2015

Help me with my crazy.....

I had a moment yesterday with my kids. One of those moments that you wish you could take back and re-do.

My daughter had said one too many words to me that day. And when I say "one too many", I really mean "a million too many". It was only 10:00 am.

She is going through a phase. Without giving you too much info, I will just say, we are all exhausted with it. I have tried everything. Prayed every prayer I know to pray.

So, as I am getting dressed, and looking forward to my friend and her kids coming to visit yesterday, she started in with the "one too many words" thing.

I silently tell Jesus to help me.

My daughter persists.

I silently tell Jesus, "Never mind, I got this."

I turned around and told my beautiful blue-eyed princess to "shut-up!"

The house felt like it shook off its foundation.

Yes, I am THAT mom.

I may have said it two or three times. Don't choke on your latte.

My thirteen year old son was in the room and he gave me that , "Mom, you went a little too far look."

If you have a child over the age of 12, you know that look. The look that says, "My mom is a little on the crazy side."

When your kids are little you can be crazy and your kids don't really notice, they are just too little to really get it.

But, when they hit the tween years, you suddenly become embarrassed when your "crazy" comes out. They are like little adults now, and they can sum up your crazy in a heart beat. Shoot.

When my son gave me that, "Mom, you went a little too far look", I went over the edge again.

Shoot me now.

I told both of the kids to leave the room, I needed to find my sanity.

My teenager gave me the, "you are SO weird", look.

That's always a fun look.

They walked out of the room and I fell to my knees.

I don't even know what I prayed.

Suddenly, I remembered the verse I had prayed over my daughter the night before.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:15-4-15

Okay, God....

I KNOW it is your will for me to have peace.

I KNOW it is your will for me to have a sound mind.

I KNOW it is your will for my daughter to have a sound mind.

I KNOW it is your will for me to let my mouth spill out love and not hateful words.

I KNOW it is your will for peace to surround my home.

So, with this said, I am expecting and believing for You to mend this situation. Quickly.

I got up off the floor, my friend came over, and my day went well.

Later that day, I pulled my daughter to the side and reminded her of God's Promise to us that if we ask anything according to His Will, that He will give it to us.

She nodded and agreed.

Oh friends, we are all in this together. Me, you, our kids, our husbands....we are in  THIS thing called life. And it can be HARD as heck.

Especially as your kids get older and they see the "crazy" we try to hide from the world. It's hard to hide crazy within our four walls.

Do you need to be reminded of His Promise that He will give you what you ask for according to His will?

Peace of mind?

Healing and restoration?

Forgiveness?

Grace and mercy?

Joy?

It is all there for the taking. We just have to "open our mouths wide for Him to fill us." Psalm 81:10

He cannot fill us, unless we open our mouths to receive His goodness.

My mouth is gaping open, Lord. Fill it right up.




working on my crazy,


jill






Jun 10, 2015

When your heart needs Peace....

 





The kids and I were driving home from Athens yesterday afternoon, and suddenly the sky fell. Rain so heavy that I could barely see an inch in front of me. Although, what I could see was a HUGE semi truck behind me so close he could have kissed my bumper.

My hands gripped the wheel. I started praying.

The car was quiet, and suddenly I remembered that my nephew who was with us is terrified of storms. I looked back and I could see the panic on his face.

My daughter saw it too. She suddenly said, "Mom, we need to pray Psalm 23. Right now."

Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

We had memorized this Psalm earlier this year, so it was still fresh on our hearts.

Presley led the prayer, and we all said it with her.

Peace and calm filled the car. I glanced back at my nephew and his face was much more relaxed and at peace.

I have shared with my children the story of Todd Beamer from Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. As the terrorists were taking over the plane, he made a phone call from the plane to the emergency operator. He and the operator recited the Lord's Prayer together and Psalm 23.

What an amazing testimony of his faith. He knew what would bring him peace. Todd Beamer, eventually went down with that plane. He was credited for being a hero. Todd Beamer knew where his strength and peace came from. In Christ alone.

One of my favorite parts Psalm 23 is this line:

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul"

He doesn't just ask us to lie down, He makes us lie down.

He doesn't just tell us where the quiet waters are, He leads us.

He doesn't tell us that He may restore our soul, He will restore our soul.

I do not know one person on Earth who doesn't need a soul restoration.

No matter what you are facing today, you need this Peace. You need this Assurance.

He is with you.

I challenge you to memorize this scripture this week. Put it as a screen saver on your phone. Tape it to your coffee maker.

Before a job interview, recite this prayer.
Before a doctor's appointment, recite this prayer.
Before a heavy conversation, recite this prayer.
Before a major decision, recite this prayer.
Before you walk out the door today, recite this prayer.

We must get in the habit of calling on God's promises if we are to live lives of Peace. Peace can only come from the Prince of Peace Himself. [Isaiah 9:6]

As I was reading in Matthew yesterday, I came across this verse and it gripped my heart.

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

Did you hear that? We should live by every word from the mouth of God.

We must know His Word in order to live by them though.

Little by little, day by day. Seek Him in His Word.

Don't let it overwhelm you. Start small. Actually, there is no small in God's Word. It is all important. Every last letter in the Word of God is important!

Make it a priority this Summer. First thing in the morning, or sometime during your day. Go away with Him to a quiet place. Let Him lead you beside the still waters so that He can restore your soul.

Try this for a week, and see how it goes.

You will be amazed, my friend.


being led to quiet waters,


jill


Jun 3, 2015

We can do hard things....

Hi.

It's been a while, I know.

Are you still reading along with me on our reading plan? It's okay if you are not. You can jump in at any time.

Actually, now is a great time to jump in! We are reading some of my favorite scriptures right now in 1 Samuel. King David is the star of this story. Swoon.

I love David. I mean, I LOVE him. [Lem knows, he's cool with it]

So, Summer is here. Schedules can be kind of crazy. I get it.

My kids are home and we are having a blast. Well, I think we are anyway. If you ask them today if we are having fun, I am not sure what they will say.

Yesterday, I had them make homemade ice cream--without an ice cream maker. They googled the instructions and spent an hour in the kitchen learning about what rock salt does and how thankful we are for new technology--like ice cream makers and electricity.

I thought it was fun and a scientific learning experience. I don't think they have the same perspective.

Okay, so back to SHINE girls.

It's been hard for me to sit down and write. Not because I don't have a lot to write about. I could go on for years about God's Word. Decades even.

However, my heart has just been in a hurting place. When my heart hurts, it's hard to find the motivation to motivate. Know what I mean?

My friend, Erin, is going through the trial of a lifetime. I hurt for her. So badly. Please pray for The Spinks family. Please pray for healing. Please pray for peace. Please pray for Erin and Chuck.

Another friend lost her brother to suicide. Oh the loss. Oh the pain. Oh the sadness. Please pray for the Hudgins Family.

Another precious friend's husband was diagnosed with a large tumor in his brain recently, and his surgery is today. Please pray for Shane Beam. Please pray for healing. Please pray for peace.

Heaviness.

Such heaviness.

When I pray these days, I don't even know what to say. I literally, just beg Him for mercy on my people. I have run out of words to say. Groans, tears, and more tears as I pray.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

There hasn't been just heaviness though.

There have been HUGE moments of Joy.

There have been HUGE moments of Peace.

Somehow, even in the dirtiest, messiest, ugliest, of situations, God gives us Hope.

Hope that He holds today and tomorrow.

Hope that this too shall pass.

Hope that He works all things out for our good.

Hope that He is the Beginning, and He is the End.

Hope that He never leaves us and never forsakes us.

Hope that our hurts and sorrows will soon be no more.

When things happen to us that bring us to our knees, something happens in Heaven that cannot happen otherwise. God's Power is made Perfect in our weakness. [ 2 Corinthians 12:9]

When we lose our strength in the battle and surrender, the Greatest Power on Earth fills us.

Surrender=Power.

Only in God's economy can this make sense.

Only in God's economy can JOY come out of pain.

Only in God's economy can Strength be birthed from weakness.

Only in God's economy can Peace come from the chaos.

As I am groaning through this post, I open my Bible.

It falls open to this passage in Isaiah. This passage that He has shown me time and time again in the midst of my own trials. When I was on my face before Him begging Him for direction and peace.

He shows me this again. To share with you. To remind me. To remind you. To remind us.

This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
  who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
   See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland
Isaiah 43:16-19


Just this very week, I was praying about something in particular. I told him, "Lord, it is SO HARD. Why does it have to be SO HARD?"
He breathed the answer into my soul almost immediately.
"Because your surrender to Me comes only in the hard, Jill."
If it never would have gotten hard, I never would have called on Him so fervently. So desperately.
So, back to this Summer.
Back to our Bible reading.
Stick to it. Even when it gets hard.
Hard is where the growth comes .
Hard is where the fruit is produced.
Hard is where we begin to be molded into His image, because we surrender.
We can do hard things.
Who's up for some growth this Summer?
Let's do this,
jill