Jul 26, 2016

Comfortably Numb....

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So, every once in a while I cycle back through the gospels of the New Testament. I can never get enough of Jesus and His teachings. Each time I read, He shows me something new. Something I missed the last time I read it.

Yesterday morning, I was in Matthew chapter 14. The story finds us with the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin.

[Back story: Herod the Tetrarch beheaded John at his wife, Herodias',  request. Herodias was the former wife of Herod's brother, Philip. Herod seduced her and Herodias gladly accepted. John the Baptist was very vocal about this illegitimate marriage, and Herodias did not like it. So, she had John beheaded. Served on a silver platter and all.]

Is this a soap opera or what?!

When Jesus heard of his cousin's death, he went to a solitary place to mourn. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind? He must have been grieving, sad, angry, confused, maybe even a bit fearful.  I don't know, but I know He must have taken it very hard and deep knowing His character.

As soon as Jesus arrived to His "solitary " place, a crowd was already there. They must have followed Him and raced to get there before He could. The crowd numbered over 5,000.

When Jesus saw them, this is what happened: "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed the sick." Matthew 14:14

What? So, Jesus is tired, depleted, sad, desperate to be alone...

but He sees the crowd and ministers to them.

Not only does He heal them and teach them, He then feeds all 5,000 plus of them with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

Jesus had compassion for them.

Let's take a look at the Greek meaning of this word. It will open or eyes to a whole new level of understanding.

The Greek word is: splagchnizomai--a Verb. 'the inward parts,' especially the nobler entrails – the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys

So, basically, this kind of compassion is not an adjective describing how Jesus felt, but a verb.

A verb that ran straight through His insides.

We have all felt this kind of compassion at some time or another.

There is a picture on my phone that I look at about once a week. It moves me to this kind of compassion. It shakes me to my core. I feel the warmth of the electrical current of splagchnizomai running straight through my veins when I look at it.

It's a picture of the the little boy, Aylan (3 years old) who was washed up at sea when his family tried to escape the wars raging in Syria. His brother, Galip, died as well. Galip was 5 years old. As well as their mother. Their father was the only survivor.

The family was trying to get to safety and freedom, but lost their two children in the process.

I look at Aylan's little shoes. His red shirt. His navy blue shorts. I wonder if he picked his little clothes out that day, or if his momma helped him. I think about him face down in the water. I wonder if he suffered. Did he see his brother die first? Was he scared?

I think about his father. I think how can he go on another day? Losing...both of his children.....and his wife.

This family never, ever escapes my thoughts.

The picture of Aylan's lifeless body, face down in the water,  is saved on my phone because I have a tendency to get numb. Numb to what's happening around me. Numb to the pain of others. Numb to the suffering of others.

Numbness is a condition that affects all of us if we are not intentional about slicing right through the numbness with a knife of compassion.

I refuse to be numb to those around me. I refuse.

Looking at Aylan's picture unnerves me. It causes all my senses and feelings to come alive with compassion. It wrecks me.

Do you want to know what separates Christians from other religions of this world...I believe with all of my heart that it is COMPASSION.

Jesus was the living breathing example of compassion.

Compassion moves. It doesn't sit idly by.

Compassion acts. It doesn't just hope that things will improve.

Compassion could care less what color someone is, what religion someone is, what political party someone is, or what language someone speaks...

Compassion MOVES. Compassion TOUCHES. Compassion FEELS.

Compassion breaks through the ice of numbness and opens the wound of unconditional love for others.

Compassion is not just lifeless words on a computer screen...compassion is tangible.

Compassion doesn't hide cowardly behind big talk and social media forums...compassion is face to face, heart to heart, and person to person.

Compassion puts itself aside and ministers to those around them that need healing. Just like Jesus did when he went to that "solitary" place.

Compassion knows that healing is the result of compassion.

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Compassion never rests. Ever.

Compassion is the opposite of hatred.

Compassion understands that we can be different, and still help each other, minister to each other, and pray for each other.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our schools to be safe from terrorists, let's pray that ALL schools in the world will be kept safe.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our church to be safe from harm and danger, but that ALL of our churches in the world will be kept safe.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our town to be protected from evil and terror, but that ALL towns will be protected from evil and terror.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are hurting, but for ALL of our brothers and sisters who so desperately need the compassion and love of Christ.

Oh, y'all, we need a compassion revival. We MUST wake up from numbness and come ALIVE with COMPASSION.

Our families need our compassion.

Our communities need our compassion.

Our churches need our compassion.

Our country needs our compassion.

Our world needs our compassion.

We must follow Jesus' example...

So healing can take place.


coming un-numb,

jill





Jul 25, 2016

Take a hike....

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 3-4 & Psalms 20
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Weekly Memory Verse:

"The Heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1

C.S. Lewis once wrote this about this particular Psalm of David, "‘I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world."

Mr. Lewis, I whole heartily agree.

Every morning as I sip coffee on my back porch, this Psalm rises to my lips. I look up at the blue sky, the huge green oak tree looming over me, the red and blue birds if I am so fortunate to have them flitting around that morning....

and I see the glory of God, once again.

His Creation shouts of His Glory. Don't you find this to be true?

When you walk outside and breathe in fresh air. When you see the bright green leaves on a blossoming tree. When you sit by the ocean, inhaling the salt air and ears being tickled by the crashing of the waves.

There is nowhere on Earth that we can go to hide from His Creation.

Sometimes we think He is not near.

Oh, friend, just walk outside. Whether it is rain falling or snow, or a scorching hot day where the sun is so bright that you have to dart your eyes away...

He speaks.

We are enveloped in His Creation. We are swimming in His Glory.

His Glory looms over us as we discover our humanness. Suddenly, we feel small. So, very small.

When David wrote Psalm 19, nobody really knows what was happening in his life at that moment. Perhaps it was when he was on the run from the madman King Saul. Maybe it was the night his child that was conceived with Bathsheba died. Maybe it was at the height of his king glory, or perhaps even at the lowest point of his life.

No matter when it was written, David was surrounded by the Presence of God. As his eyes looked toward heaven, David knew he was never alone. God was with him.

Listen to the next few lines of Psalm 19....



The Heavens declare the Glory of God, 
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world


You have probably had a similar experience as David at some point or another. Even those who claim to not know the Lord, or believe in Him, have a chance to experience His Glory in Creation...every single day. 

We can either choose to believe, and pursue a relationship with the Creator and His Son, Jesus, or we choose to deny what our spirits so hunger and thirst for. 

Many that are spiritually lost will go away on nature hikes, or nature experiences to "find themselves". They often return feeling more lost than when they began. I believe it is because they tasted the goodness of the Lord, yet denied His existence. They continue to search, and search and search for the filling to their gaping need. Alas, until they surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus, the search will ever continue. 

Coming from a girl who is not nearly as educated as I would like to be, I find so much comfort in this scripture. He constantly pours forth His speech, and His knowledge to us. I LOVE this. We just have to open our mouths and be filled. No special intellect needed. Just a heart willing to receive what God offers us. 

He gives us all we need. We just have to choose to receive it. 

His Word is the Bread that feeds us. His Creation is the proof of His Glory. His Son is the proof of His Love for us. 

I challenge us to take some time to go outside this week. Turn off your headphones, your phones, and soak in the glory of God. Let yourself be overwhelmed by the magnitude of His Love for you. Surrender to His incredible Love and Plan for your life. Fall into His Grace and swim in the ocean of His Mercy. 


going on a hike with Jesus,  

jill



Jul 24, 2016

Prayer Requests....



I believe in the power of prayer.

First hand, I have seen miracle upon miracles through prayer.

If you have a prayer request you would like to share with your fellow SHINE girls, please post it here. You are being prayed over, prayed with, and prayed for.

Please feel free to post anonymously if you would like. We are still praying.

If you don't have an immediate prayer need, please lift your sisters up. We are so thankful for your hearts to serve and love through prayer.


Jul 21, 2016

Want to make a difference?

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If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  1 Corinthians 1-3

One month ago, I wrote a post about praying for our husbands. I encouraged us to pray very intentionally for 30 days over our men.

During the course of this, many things have taken place in this world. Tragedy upon tragedy.

Lord, where do we even start to pray? Praying for our husbands can seem so.....minimal....when so much is happening around us. 

I want to do something to help in this world. I want to do....something.

Helpless is how it feels when it seems like the world is crumbling.

But, ever so gently, Jesus reminds me....you can do something. Something great.

Jesus says that the greatest commandment is this...

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

The first part is easy. How can I not love the Creator of the Universe? The One who sent His Son to die for my sins?

The second part, can be much more complicated.

If you are married, your first and closest neighbor is your spouse.

We can read our bibles, start prayer walks, adopt a thousand children, go to foreign lands to spread the gospel of Jesus, be leaders in the church.....

But, if we are not loving our spouse, only second to our love for the Father....

We are getting it wrong. Way wrong.

Friends, we can make a difference in this world. A big one.

Love Jesus, and love our husbands.

I cannot imagine a greater testament of our faith.

We can be lured into believing that surely that cannot be enough. Surely, we must do more in order for us to make a difference in this world.

However, our love for our husbands trickles into every relationship we encounter. Especially that of our children.

When our children see the marriage thriving, they too, will thrive.

I cannot imagine a better gift to the world.....a child growing up in an environment of love. A mother who not just knows the words of Jesus...

but, who follows them.

We can make a huge impact on this world, precious friends. It all starts in our homes. Where nobody but God and our families can see.

How will we answer one sweet day in Heaven when He asks us, "Did you love your neighbor well?"

I hope we will be able to say, "I loved them very well."

The building up of Jesus' Church, begins right here under our own little roofs.


let's go make a difference,


jill


Jul 19, 2016

Did I offend you?

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Every once in a while, I will put down all other reading plans, and just read straight through the gospels of the New Testament.

It never fails that when I do, I fall blonde-head over cracked-heels in love with Jesus again.

I read through it slow. Just one chapter a day. I like to soak it in. Each word drenching my heart with His teaching, grace, mercy, and jaw dropping love.

My heart becomes exposed each time I read. The Light of Truth pierces the dark corridors of this heart, and warms deep into the cold places.

Almost every time, I cry. I hold my bible close to my chest as if doing so will cause His Love to jump right into my spirit. Like osmosis, seeping into my pores and flooding me with Himself.

I want this so much.

He shows me something new each time I read His Word. Amazing how that happens, right?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

A verse did this very thing to my heart last week. I still hear it over and over again. Pondering its meaning and praying for God to reveal to me what this means for me.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Notice, the verse doesn't say "if you have something against your brother or sister." It says, "if your brother or sister has something against you."

I have never looked at it like this. Usually, I am praying to have a forgiving heart towards those that have wronged me or offended me. I ask for God to bless that person despite the hurt they caused.

However, look what this is saying. Go to the person that has something against you.

This takes on a whole new perspective.

Who have I wronged that I need to make right?

Who may be holding a grudge against me?

Who may have misunderstood something I did or said?

This verse really comes into play when pondering this scripture, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise" Ephesians 5:15

Are we careful with how we are living? With our words? With our lack of words? With our actions?

Are we thinking of who we may have offended or wronged today, or just focused on who offended us.

Oh, y'all. This is powerful. And so important.

We must live out our faith with the words we speak. We must be so careful with our conversations. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

We must be careful to not be a stumbling block to those around us. I believe we can even be an unintentional stumbling block. Therefore, it is so important that we be intentional about NOT being one. Because of our flesh, we are not always thinking about how others may receive our words. Many times our focus is on how we receive the words of others.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 2 Corinthians 6:3

I wonder if this is what happens to our prayer life. Our prayers get stifled and smothered due to the lack of wisdom in how we speak and treat others. Again, even if we are not aware. We must ask for Jesus to show us, to open our eyes to ourselves and see ourselves clearly. Not shadowed by pride of murky self-righteousness.

Let's take these words of Jesus and put them into practice. Who may I have wronged? Let me go and make it right!

Let not another day pass that there is friction and strife in the heart of another towards us. To really have a heart like Jesus, we must be concerned about the heart of others, not just ourselves.

We may not be able to receive the persons forgiveness, but we can receive the forgiveness of our
Father for trying to make it right with the offended. We will have to trust that God will do the work in the persons heart that we have intentionally or unintentionally offended.


Jesus is rocking my world,


jill








Jul 17, 2016

The Secret Prayer...

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My husband and I share many intimate conversations together. Things that we discuss just between the two of us that are special and treasured. We dream about our future, and the future of our children together. We express concerns and observations of things happening around us. This openness creates a secret and rare vulnerability between us that I cannot put into words.

These talks are sacred between the two of us. Many of the things on my heart, I have never shared with another living soul. They are meant to be kept between the bond, the unity, and the love between the two of us. When we took an oath before God on our wedding day to be submitted to one another, our spirits became one. God sees us as one as well. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Romans 8:26

Our prayer life is the same. When we approach the Father in prayer, it is a time of deep intimacy and lavish openness of our hearts to His. We express things, even if not spoken in words, they are expressed through the groaning of our spirits.The bible tells us in Romans 8:26, "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."

Jesus teaches us about the power of prayer in secret. Not just prayer in secret, but the power of giving in secret, and fasting in secret. Take a look at Matthew 6 verses 6-18. Here's an excerpt...

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

When reading God's word, hang onto things you see repeated over and over again. Make note it it, and store it up in your heart. Like a good Father to his children, He reminds us so we will not forget.

In my own personal prayer life, I have seen the power of prayer in secret several times over the last few years. Honestly, I didn't even realize the prayer was in secret at the time. These requests were just so deep and so personal in my spirit, that I kept them between the Father and me.

One experience that I will share from a couple of years ago is that of a prayer over my husband. It was regarding a trip he wanted to go on with some friends. He would be gone several days and something in my spirit just was not at peace about it. I never told him my concerns. Instead, I took my concerns to prayer.

I wasn't sure why I was so hesitant about this trip for him, but I was. I asked God to grant me peace for him to leave if His will was for Lem to go on the trip. I also reached out to three friends and asked them to please pray for an unspoken request for me and my family.

At the time, I wasn't sure of my motives for wanting him to stay home. I wanted to be clear the motives were not selfish, so I spared sharing the details with my praying friends. I just asked them to pray.

About a month later, my husband came to me and told me that the trip he was planning on going on had fallen apart. Nothing was working out for he and his friends to be able to go.

Bewildered, I gasped out loud.

I could not even believe it.

God had answered this prayer, and I knew it was only God that could have made the details come together for the trip to not take place.

I never did tell him that I had prayed about that trip. The things that God had done were so personal and so intimate and so intricate, I wanted to keep it between He and I. Also, I did not want for one second for Lem to think that I had prayed him out of going. It would have put a shadow on future trips he wanted to take with the fellas, and I did not want the enemy getting a foothold there.

I love when Lem is able to get away with his friends to hike and camp. I love it because he loves it. It makes him smile, and it makes him excited! So, not for one second did I want him to think that I had manipulated the situation for him not to be able to go.

Another time that God answered a secret prayer was one I love to share to anyone who will listen. If you have heard it, I apologize in advance.

A few years ago I was running out of my favorite skincare line. I had purchased it for myself  from some money I had received for my birthday months before. I loved it so much and I wanted to order a whole new set! The cost would be...a LOT. Way over our budget. Especially for fancy skincare.

I had rationalized in my head that I deserved to get it. I specifically remember thinking, "This is the ONLY thing I splurge on. I deserve this for myself. Plus, I will save my husband on a face lift because my skin will be firmer due to this awesome skincare line." 

Eek!

I logged on to the website to order this outrageously expensive skincare. I had everything I needed [wanted] in my cart online. I scrambled for my credit card to put it all on there, praying that the bill would not come for at least 30 days. I wasn't ready for a fight with the hubby any time soon.

I began to type in the numbers, and I stopped. Conviction seized me. I couldn't do it. My husband had clearly marked our budget boundaries just that very week, and this was not even close to being in the equation.

Shoot.

I logged off of the site feeling sad and feeling sorry for myself.

Silently, I prayed that God would forgive me for almost stepping into disobedience.

Are you ready for what happened next?

The very next day, a friend called me on the phone.

She asked me if I would like a bunch of skincare that she had purchased a few weeks ago. She said she did not really like it, but she didn't want to go to the expense and the effort to send it all back. Plus, she knew I was a huge fan of that particular skincare.

YES!! I would love to take this off of your hands!

I was beyond elated.

Y'all that afternoon, I went to pick up the skincare she had left in her car for me at her work. It was DOUBLE what I had planned ordering online the day before. DOUBLE. There were even some items that I wanted to get, but knew there was no way I could at that time.

I was absolutely blown away. That big gold bag of skincare was a gift from my Father.

He heard my secret prayer. I didn't even really ask Him, I just asked Him to forgive me for disobedience. Yet, He knows the desires of our hearts, doesn't He?

I share these things to encourage you that the Father loves to lavish us. He loves to be one on one with you in the secret place of prayer. Just the two of you.

In my case, those secret times of prayer have built my faith stronger. I think if I would have asked a lot of people to pray, I would have missed out on a chance in intimacy with my Father. In my flesh, I may have thought that it was certainly not because of my feeble prayers that it was answered. I would have not felt the same intimacy with Him, I believe.

Please don't for one second think that asking for prayer or group praying is not powerful. It is!

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19

However, I do believe that there is a time for intimacy as well. A place and time to pray secretly those deep groans and desires. He will lead us how to pray, and with whom to share our prayers, we just need to ask Him.

I have learned in these secret prayers with my Father, that He is most concerned about the well-being of my spirit. My faith and belief are of the greatest concern to Him. More than a prayer being answered, it is about my oneness with Him. The intimacy that develops when I share my heart, my desires, my confessions of sin, and my whole being with Him. It is the power of what happens during that process that ends up being the greatest miracle. The answer to the prayer is just the icing.

What is it that you need to approach your Heavenly Father about today? Oh, friend, go to Him. Go to a secret place and pour your heart out to Him. Believe that He hears you. Believe that He will answer. 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8


praying secrets,


jill



Jul 14, 2016

What do You say?

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Oh boy. These past few months may be the most prayerful months I have ever in my life experienced.

I find a heaviness in my spirit concerning our world that leaves me crying in the shower. Literally.

Prayer is the only thing that lifts this heaviness. Prayer is the only thing that gives my heart hope in such desperate times as these.

For the last couple of weeks I have actually shut down any kind of social media. I cannot see one more post, one more opinion, one more anything. My heart cannot take it.

I need to hear what God has to say about all of this stuff. Lord, what do you say? I ask Him over and over again. Lord, what do you say?

The Heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His Hands. Psalm 19:1

He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21

This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chronicles 20:15

In repentance and rest you shall be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.  Isaiah 30:15

Then, I am reminded of Abraham.

God told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of its sin, perversion, and lawlessness.

Abraham begged God to spare the city.

The story goes like this...

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?

25Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 26The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 

  27Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”  

29Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” 30Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”  

31Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” 32Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” 

 33When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

The city was destroyed. There were not even 10 righteous people to be found. Can you even imagine?

Lot, Abraham's nephew, and his family, were the only ones spared. [Although, Lot's wife died when when she looked back on the burning city]

God is merciful. He was willing to spare the entire sin-filled city if just 10 righteous people could be found. Just 10!

He does the same today.

He is merciful. Oh, so merciful.

We must turn to Him, and leave our sins and idols behind.

He is so patient. Ever so patient.

Let's turn to Him, pray to Him, and ask Him...

Lord, what do You say?

And follow Him.

May we never look back and long for our idols. May we run steadfastly towards Him for the rest of our days.


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


resting in His Mercy,

jill






 

How do I pray?

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Good morning, precious friends. I have wanted to write so many times this Summer, but alas, have not had a lot of time to do so. With the kids being home from school, it is nearly impossible to have a quiet moment to sit. So, get ready for August. I will BLOW up your email inbox. Don't say I didn't warn you.

This morning, I was looking for something on prayer, and this post popped up from 3 years ago. It is a perfect reminder for my heart and I know it will be refreshing to you as well. Many times in the Bible, God tells us to "remember", and to "not forget". I like to look back at things I have read, written, or prayed to remember what He is doing. Forgetfulness can set in and it is a powerful tool of the enemy to distract us from what we know.

So, sit down, grab some coffee, or hot tea...and soak up some insight.


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

Here's Kelli and her beautiful family!


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

Be blessed today, girls. I know you will!


How I Transformed my Prayer Life
by Kelli Brooks
(first posted on SHINE 9/13/2013)

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

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

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


Kelli and her loves!

Jul 6, 2016

Finding your purpose...

The struggle is real.

Whether you are a teenager, a college student, a newlywed, a middle aged woman, or an elderly woman. The struggle for who you are and what your purpose is, is very real.

I am certainly no expert on this. This has been a life long question in my own life. Searching, searching, and searching for my part in this world. Surely, there is a plan for me that I am on the verge of discovering and when I do everything will come together...finally.

However, through my own personal struggle, really more like a wrestling, with God over this question, I have learned a few things along the way.

Without vision, we perish. Proverbs 29:18(a)

We must get up in the morning and have a clear plan for our day. Not our lives necessarily, just our day.

Give us this day, our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Our purpose is found in today. Not tomorrow, not next week, or next year...but today.

Who we determine to be today, will determine who we are tomorrow and 10 years from tomorrow.

Each day has a purpose and a plan for our lives. Wrapped up in the trivial, the seemingly meaningless, is where we are made. Where we are shaped, and where we are sculpted.

Jesus cares much more about how we speak to our spouse, or the waitress, or the cashier at Walmart than how many christian books we have read or how many chapters in the bible we can quote. The things in life we think don't really matter....really do. 

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10

Our purpose is found in how we live in these moments. The attitude of our hearts, and the motivations of our hearts.

Do you really think Jesus cares if I write a million blog posts about Him if I close my laptop and throw stones at my neighbor, or gossip about the new girl in town, or secretly despise my inlaws? [i love my inlaws by the way!]

We spend so much time trying to better ourselves. Making ourselves presentable to a world that is dying by the minute. A world that will be burnt to ashes in the blink of an eye when Jesus returns.

Our purpose will never, ever be found here.

Our purpose is only found in Christ.

When we stop searching for more of ourselves, we finally find ourselves.

A life hidden in Christ.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

This is such irony, isn't it? The minute we stop looking for our purpose, is the minute we find it in Him. If you are a Christian, your destiny has already been written with Jesus, sweet friend.

You don't have to strive to discover hidden talents or an underlying grand purpose.

Your purpose is being called His.

Your purpose is surrendering every ounce of your heart to Him and letting nothing get in the way of this.

And, just like our daily bread, this is a daily surrender.

We live in a fallen world. Sin knocks daily at our door. The enemy begs us to look for more, more, more. Surely, there has to be more, he tells us. Surely, you can do better than this, he mocks.

Eve fell for his lies. She listened to his seductive words and fell right into his big trap.

Let's learn from Eve.

Less is more.

Less of us, and more of Christ.

Less of looking for ourselves, and more of dying to ourselves.

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

Do you not see the lure, the seduction around you? Around our children?

It's all over the place. It is on billboards, in magazines, on social media....the lure to do more. The lure to be more. The lure to be noticed. And liked. And sought after.

Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

We cannot follow Him and the world.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Matthew 6:24

Picture this with me, will you?

Imagine yourself picking up a heavy cross the moment your eyes open this morning. Steady it on your back really good. Now look up and see Jesus right in front of you. Take a step to Him, and keep walking.

You cannot take your eyes off of Him with that cross on your back. You will misstep and fall out of balance if you look back or look down at yourself.

The only way to carry that cross is by looking eyes straight forward and walking in sync with Him.

Your purpose is found when you just follow Him.

Obey His commands, and follow Him.

If you don't know His commands, open up your bible and discover them.

Do you remember what Mary, the mother of Jesus did for a living? Me either.

What about Paul? He was a tent maker. But that isn't what he is known for.

Mary and Paul found their purpose in Christ.

They lost their lives to Him.

Jesus lost His life for us first.

Let's follow His lead, shall we?


picking up my cross,


jill









Jul 5, 2016

Who do you love?

Dear Jesus,

There you go. Wrecking my heart again. Just when I think I cannot take anymore, you shed more Light on Your Word and it pierces my heart once again.

Since deciding to read a chapter or two of the New Testament along with our SHINE Reading Plan, I fell right into a big ol' heap of conviction. Are you doing this on purpose? Well, of course You are.

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs  3:12 

Yep, I remember.

Father, as I read through the book of 1 John this morning, it was if my eyes were opened. I thought I knew about love. Really, I did.

I forgive pretty easily. I smile at my enemies. I pray for those who have hurt me.

But...there is a heart issue going on at times. The outer layer of my flesh really doesn't matter to you.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV) 

You are the ONLY One who sees my heart. You see the hurt, the pain, the rough spots. Even when I try to hide them and shiny them up, You see it all. The ugly. The unforgiving.

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:11-18

And then a few sentences down You spoke this through your disciple John, "Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love."

Oh, Father, may I never get to Heaven and be told that I never knew You. Please, help me to understand Your Love. Help me to love like You.

This world we live in grows colder by the day. I shiver at the thought. Hatred upon hatred. Lord, let me show Love when every inch of my flesh wants to harbor hatred. When every ounce of my flesh screams to get revenge because it would be justified.

Lord, let my love for others be a consuming fire that spreads everywhere it goes! Let apathy leave my heart and never return!

Lord, help me to never be lukewarm in loving others. Even when it is HARD. Even when it makes every ounce of my flesh wince in pain. Perhaps that is the point? The more the inner spirit is renewed by Christ, the more the flesh wastes away.

Father, help me to not back away from hard conversations. Even when I don't have the perfect words, I will trust You to speak. Even when the words come out messy and confusing, I will trust that You have already prepared the heart of the receiver of those words.

Help me to call out sin when I see it. First in my own life, then in the life of loved ones. Sitting by smiling a big Jesus smile as someone walks right into the pit of hell is not Love.

I want to love others enough to point them to You. When I see them going down a dark road, give me the boldness to grab their arm and help them to turn around. 

save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Jude 1:23

Father, I thank you for snatching me from the fire. I fall to my knees and praise You all of my days for saving me. Thank You for not just smiling at me and hoping I notice You. Thank you for not waiting for me to fall into a pit. You grab my arm and pull me to Yourself. Every single time.

Lord, help me to love others in this way. And most of all, surround me with people that will grab me by my arm as well when I step off into a dark path.

I will fail You. I will not listen to You. I will ignore You. I will abandon You at times. I will make so many mistakes.  I will swear for the thousandth time that I will not turn away from You ever again.

I will question Your love for me. I will ask You to prove it to me because I don't "feel" it.

Forgive me in advance, Father.

And give me the strength to forgive others that do the exact same thing to me as I do to You.

Please give me Your Heart, Jesus.

No other heart will do,

jill