Jun 29, 2017

I got crowned....

Well, yesterday I finally received my crowns.

Not the ones you are probably thinking.

The crowns that go in the mouth. You know, the dental kind of crowns. [insert an eye roll]

I have put these off for the better part of a year. Maybe more, but who's counting?

Dread is an understatement.

I abhor dental work of any kind. I get anxious. I get fearful. I just don't like people's hands in my mouth. Ever.

As I drove to the appointment, I asked my daughter to pray.

I felt some peace as she prayed a sweet prayer.

But, soon after, my stomach was in knots again.

When I arrived, they took me back. They plopped me in that big leather chair, and my hands were shaking. Really, I mean shaking.

I was thinking of every excuse possible to escape. I could tell them I was sick and needed to go. I could tell them there was an emergency and I needed to flee. I could tell them this was all a big mistake and I was fine without having crowns in my mouth!

Suddenly, I heard in my spirit the words, "Be thankful, Jill."

Huh? Who said that?

Thankful for what??

Seriously??

I immediately began praying. Not out loud. Because you know, they already think I am looney.

I thanked the Lord that I was able to have dental work done. I thanked the Lord that I could afford to pay for the "crowns" in my mouth. I thanked the Lord for my dentist and all who had studied the mouth and teeth and knew what the heck they were doing.

I prayed for our missionary friends, The Dubose's. Josh Dubose and his family are in Peru doing missionary work, and helping with the dental needs in that area. I thought about the many needs they must come across every single day.

I thanked God for how blessed I was to be able to have medicine to numb my mouth when many others do not have this privilege.

Eventually, my heart stopped racing. My hands stopped shaking, and I began to feel a huge rush of peace.

Half way into our little crowning session my dentist said, "Jill, you are so much less anxious than usual. I know you don't like dental work, but you are extra calm today."

I gave him a crooked, numb-mouthed smile, and said, "Prayer is powerful."

Replacing my fear and anxiety with gratitude changed everything. Instead of just praying for the fear to go away, I replaced the prayer with thankfulness and praying for others.

Maybe this is why Paul tells us:

Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18


Are you dreading something today?

Pray and give thanks.

Peace will come swiftly. Just ask my dentist.


newly crowned,


jill

 

Jun 28, 2017

Guard my stinkin' mouth...

[original post 6/27/14]

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
Matthew 15:8
 
 
This verse hits to the core of my beating heart. It only hits so hard on my heart, because I have been "these people" that it so pointedly describes.
 
In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I was "these people".
 
If any of you precious ones would have been a fly on the wall of my closet that day, I think you could just go ahead and bury me in my worn-down flip flops.
 
Die, I tell you, I would die. Willingly at that.
 
My day was rolling along pretty well. A few bumps here and there, but for the most part, smooth as butter on my gluten-free toast.
 
Lem came home. Lem is my husband if you need a reminder.
 
We had dinner as a family, did our "family time" thing, and rolled on into the night time.
 
Lem jumped in the shower to wash off his hard day of work. I cleaned dishes, whistling while I worked. I may have even had a smile on my tired face as I reminisced about what a pretty good day it had been.
 
However, all of that was about to change. In the blink of a dirty dish.
 
After the dishes were clean and the kitchen was tidy, I went to our bedroom to talk to Lem about his day.
 
I walked through the bedroom door and saw our precious little 15 year old dog lying on our bed.
 
Normally, this may be a sweet sight to some folks, but not here, not in our house.
 
Why, you ask?
 
Because our little old doggie will relieve her bladder on our bed....every single time.
 
Not just sometimes, but every single time she gets on our bed.
 
I quickly jumped into action.
 
Hurriedly, I grabbed the dog, and put her outside while I held my breath thinking about the puddle that she probably left on our bed.
 
I went back to the bedroom, and sure enough.....
 
A big, fat, wet, puddle was awaiting me. Soaked right through to the mattress.
 
Before I could clean it up, Lem comes out of the shower, and sees the crime scene.
 
He sees the puddle and falls apart like a two dollar watch.
 
Now, I am just being honest here. Lem doesn't fall apart very often, he's usually calm as a stinkin' cucumber. However, tonight, my calm cucumber turned into a red hot jalepeno.
 
Accusations were coming out of his mouth so fast it made my blonde head spin.
 
He was upset with me that "this happened".  I shouldn't have let her on the bed. Blah, blah, blah.
 
I was stunned with disbelief that he actually believed that "this" was my fault.
 
Here's the part that will make you feel like mother, wife, and woman of the year after reading {you're welcome}.....
 
The next thing I remember, I  was slamming the bedroom door, and running to the closet so I could scream without the kids hearing me. At least I was somewhat thinking rationally, right? {pitiful, Jill, pitiful}
 
Words were flying out of my mouth so fast they would have knocked you out cold if you would have been within arm distance from my spewing mouth.
 
The last thing I remember was calling Lem a bad name. In a very loud voice. Possibly several times for dramatic effect of course. {bowing my head in dramatic shame}
 
Also, the name I called him begins with a proper name...."Jack".
 
To be fair, the definition of the word I called him can be found in Mirriam Webster's dictionary, I will have you know.
 
The definition of the word I used for him states this:
  • a male donkey
  • a stupid person

I meant exactly that definition at that exact moment.

As soon as I called him the male donkey, I opened my bedroom door to find my children standing there, mouths wide open in horror.

I died. Right then and there. DIED, I tell you.

No words, just a red face full of guilt as I saw their mouths gaped open in awe of what they had just witnessed.

My daughter immediately said, "You called daddy a bad word!!"

My response was, "Yes, and I will continue to call him a male donkey until he quits acting like one!"

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Well, girls, there you have it.

A bad day in the life of yours truly. Your bible study girlfriend.

I was not so SHINE-y that day.

Somewhere along the way,  my heart got messed up. Those words that spewed out of my mouth, the hatred coming from my lips, was from a heart that was covered with some yuckiness. Some unrepented yuck.

Now, I know we all have bad days, but for me to fall apart so quickly and so hatefully, showed a big underlying heart problem.

My heart was far from God.

My lips were living proof of this.

"What goes into a man's mouth does not make him "unclean", but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him "unclean". Matthew 15:11

My unclean words were embarrassing. Especially due to the fact that my children witnessed the whole blasted thing.

I will let you in on something that I have recently learned though.

Sometimes the tool that God uses most for us to bless people with, can become the very tool that we fall deep into sin and flesh if we are not careful.

For me, it is my tongue. God can use it to bring teaching, encouragement, exhortation, love.....

However, in an instance, if I am not guarding this tongue of mine, it can be used very destructively. It can harm and wreak havoc if it is not protected by God's Word and His Truth.

I have a friend who has incredible spiritual discernment. However, if she is not careful, her flesh can quickly use it to "judge" instead of "discern". These words came out of her very own mouth.

I have another friend that has a passion for good health and taking care of her body and helping others with staying healthy as well. However, she must stay very in tune with the Lord so she doesn't fall off track with becoming overly obsessive with her health and fitness. She has to constantly maintain in check and balance with the Lord so that she honors Him and not the flesh in her passion for being healthy.

Are you following me here?

We must make sure we refine the tools that He gives us. We must make sure to sharpen them and guard them against sin and our flesh.

The enemy wants nothing more than to turn our God-given gifts into a full-blown disaster of the flesh. The enemy does not want us using our gifts in the way they were meant for us to use them. He wants to distort them and disable them. Pure and simple.

What spiritual gift has He given you that may need extra guarding and refining today?

Guard the spiritual gifts and tools He has given you, and ask God to help you use those tools for His Glory and nothing more.

In the meantime, I will have my tongue under lock and key.

"set a guard over my mouth oh Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips" Psalm 141:3

My kids and husband will thank me for this.



armoring my mouth,


jill

Jun 27, 2017

Do it well.....

During the Summer days, I have the opportunity to have many "teaching" moments with my children.

These are not my children's favorite days.

Their hearts are not always giddy with excitement to hear another lesson from their mama.

Go figure.

One of these teaching days became a lesson for my heart, just as much as theirs. Isn't that always the case?

The day started with chores for my kids and for myself. We had just returned from vacation and there was much to do. Unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, blah, blah, blah.

I noticed my children were not thrilled about their day full of chores.

I also noticed the things that I asked them to do were not done well.

They had half-heartedly done these chores and it showed.

Not only were the chores not done well, but they apparently left their good attitudes in Orlando where we had just returned from.

The thing is, my attitude was on the same level as theirs. I was ill. Discontented. And, just not thrilled about coming back from the happiest place on Earth to regular life as a house wife with a house full of kids on these longggg Summer days.

Before I talked to my kids, I sat on my back porch and talked to Jesus.

I asked Him to give me joy in these days. I asked Him to give me a thankful heart on the days that were long and there was much to do, and little fun to be had.

A bible story came into my mind almost immediately as I was praying.

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
2
“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.

29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30

I underlined the words that stood out to me as I was sitting on my back porch praying.

Well done.

Well done.

Those words were ringing in my ears.

Sometimes, I don't do things well. I just do them to get them done. My heart is not in it. I grumble, I moan, I complain, and I am lazy at times with the things I need to do.

My attitude affects my performance.

Why not do everything well?

Why do I pick and choose the things I want to do well in?

What if in everything, I chose to do well.

Not perfect, but well.

This was what had been missing in my kids hearts, and in mine.

We were just drudging through.

We were not choosing to do our chores well.

We were just going through the motions to get them done.

I though about my parenting. My marriage. My friendships. My house work. My exercise. My eating. My serving. My chores.

What if in everything I put my hand to, I chose to do it well.

A light had been shed upon the discontent and grumbling of my heart.

God had shone a revelation into the cracks of my attitude that needed some major adjusting.

I jumped up, sat my children down on the couch and shared with them my heart about all of this doing well stuff that God had just revealed to me.

I told them there will be many, many days and jobs and chores that seem pointless.

But, if we do them well, God will see. He will reward us because we have been faithful with the small things.

I told them that they may be in a job one day, and they may hate it. But, do your job well. Instead of wishing you were somewhere else, do the job in front of you well. God may be preparing you for the next job. Prove faithful where you are.

Doing what we have at the moment well, determines our next step.

If we don't do well with little, we will never do well with much.

Ahhh!

So simple, yet so profound.

Am I faithful with the money I do have, or am I always wishing for more?

Am I faithful with the body that I have at the moment, feeding it well, exercising it well, or am I just always wishing for another body?

Am I faithful with my job, do I show up on time, and do well? Or, do I just get by because it's not my dream job and I just want to bide my time. Doing well at this job, will determine my next job.

Am I doing well with being a mama? Or do I just try to get through each day in one piece.

Am I doing well with being a wife? Or am I just going through each day sulking and wishing my life were different.

Am I faithful with the small house I have, or do I complain and dream of a bigger house and bigger lifestyle?

Could it be that we will never, ever get the greater blessing , if we don't do well with the small?

God is not looking for perfection. Jesus fulfills that role.

He only wants us to do well with what we have.

So, the next day, I was leaning over the sink doing a boat load of dishes.

I decided to take my time. To wash those dishes well.

I prayed as I washed them. I thanked God for the people that had eaten off of those dishes.

My attitude suddenly changed.

Oh, how I long to hear the words of my Father in Heaven, "well done, my good and faithful servant".


What is on your agenda today?

Do it well.

It changes everything.


doing well,


jill






Jun 22, 2017

Me, Myself, and I....

For the past 10-12 years or so I have kept a prayer journal.

I have stacks and stacks of them in a bookcase in my house. From time to time, when I am in desperate need of hope and faith filling, I look back on the pages of these journals.

Answered prayer after answered prayer.

I have also seen prayers that have yet to be answered. Or at least not answered in the way I had hoped.

Although, after time, I see the weaving of God's plan in a way that I had not expected. Often very different than what I had prayed.

But, I see His Hand. In all of it.

About a year ago, a friend pointed me to a profound concept of prayer. I had poured my heart out to her regarding a specific prayer I had prayed for many years and seemed to see no fruit of this prayer.

She changed my perspective and my prayers from her response.

This wise friend told me that instead of praying for those desires, to pray for others that desired those things. Pray for God to fulfill their longings. Pray for the people and not your desire.

For example, if our prayer is to be able to have children,  pray for others that cannot have children.

If our prayer is to adopt or foster children, pray for the children to be adopted and fostered. Pray over those children like they are your very own. Covering them with prayer from the tops of their precious heads to their little feet.

If our prayer is for relief with our finances, pray for the homeless. Pray for those that are destitute without a place to lay their weary heads at night.

If our prayer is for friendship, pray for the lonely, the widowed, the neglected. Pray for God to surround them with relationships and friendships.

If our prayer is for our marriage, pray for the marriages of others. Pray for God to restore the marriages of those around you.

If our prayer is for us to grow our ministry, pray for the ministries of those around you. Pray for God's blessing and favor over them.

If our prayer is for healing, of any kind, pray for the healing of those around you.

Y'all, her words changed my life.

They were not really her words, they were God's words.

Look in your Bibles to the Lord's Prayer. The prayer where He teaches us how to pray. Notice something...

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you,"
Matthew 6:5-14
 
 
Notice here, how Jesus prays for "us", not "me".
 
A simple word, "us". Yet, profound.
 
It's not about "me", it's about "us".
 
I also notice this with Nehemiah's prayer. Nehemiah's heart aches for the lost people of Israel. He confesses his sins to God, and their sins. . [Nehemiah 1:4-10]
 
God hears Nehemiah, and blesses Nehemiah to do a HUGE work for God's people.
 
So, as I look back over my prayer journal, I see a lot of prayers. Mostly for myself.
 
I see a big lack of prayer for others.
 
Yes, I wrote their names and asked for God's blessings over them, but I did not really intercede for them like Jesus tells us to.
 
I have also had times of fasting over the years. I fasted in order to receive something for myself. A blessing, a gift, something.
 
Mostly, my fasting was not done in intercession for others. It was for myself.
 
I think about Jesus on the Cross...
 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do", were His Words.
 
In His greatest suffering, He prays for others.
 
May we learn from Jesus.
 
May we intercede for others in a way that puts our desires on the back burner.
 
7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:7-8
 
The Father knows what we need before we even ask Him.
 
Let that sink in.
 
Could it be that in all of our groveling, moaning, begging, pleading for ourselves in prayer, we have missed the greatest thing that was needed?
 
To pray for others.
 
Earnestly.
 
Fervently.
 
Could it be that the answer to our prayers lies in praying for others?
 
Could it be that our greatest healing comes from our pouring out, sweating tears of prayer over the needs of others?
 
When we pray for others, God changes us. Our disposition changes. Our hearts are softened. The well-being of others becomes so important to us that we anticipate excitedly to see the answer to our prayers in others lives.
 
We become more like Him when we pray like Him.
 
For the needs of others.
 
As a mother, when I see my children put another first, put their desires aside, to help or bless another...I want to bless them profusely. I swell up with pride and want to fill any need they have because of the outpouring they have shown to others.
 
Surely, our Father feels the same.
 
Intercede on behalf of others.
 
God will take of your needs.
 
Watch and see.
 
 
changing my prayers,
 
 
jill
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Jun 21, 2017

Smell the Roses....

As I look out my kitchen window, I see beautiful fresh dewy knock-out roses blooming. The color is magnificent. The contrast to the green leaves will take your breath away.

Funny, I am not a flower person. Never have been. Until recently.

Remember the story about my yard? The weeds, then the new plants, then the watering?

Well, something about the watering makes me invested in my little blooms encircling our house.

I put hours into watering. Sweat. Time. More sweat. More time.

Now, I see the fruit of all of that labor.

I want to enjoy the new blooms, soak them in. Gaze at them instead of rushing right by them.

For the past few months, I have been really trying to discipline myself to "slow down". To see what is in front of me. Smell the scent of "now". See the eyes that linger next to me. Touch the skin of those around me in the moment of now.

Perhaps this is what draws me to Jesus the most. He is Present.

The Bible tells us of a girl who touched the hem of His garment in a raging crowd. Just a touch.

And, He stopped. Turned to her. Spoke to her. Healed her.

Would I be able to feel the gentle touch of someone in need in all of my hurrying and rushing and going from here to there?

Would I be able to divert my eyes from the glare of my screen and the lure of the internet beckoning me to see things, catch up on things, engage in stories on a screen instead of my own surroundings?

Would I be able to discern the look in my children's eyes when I see they need to talk, or need my attention?

In all of my rushing and hurrying, have I stopped to notice the gift that God has in that very moment of life for me?

By trying to save time, we actually end up losing it.

We miss out on the sunset beckoning our eyes to inhale the amazement of it.

We miss out on the sunrise because we rush and scurry about.

We miss out on the little things our children do because we are always looking for the big things.

We want to rush them to grow up. To be independent. To give us a little breathing room.

Yet, when the time comes

When they flee the nest

All we want is a chance to linger in their presence. Soaking up the smell of their skin. Hanging on every precious word.

We want to turn back time.

The time that we rushed and hurried through.

We thought it was making us more efficient. More time-managing. More savvy.

When really, it just made us miss the very sweet aroma of the present.

I read somewhere once that when people are on their death beds, death looming over them like a cloud...

They never say, "I wish I would have hurried more. Worked more. Traveled more..."

But, they say, "I wish I would have spent more time with those I love..."

The deepest longing in us besides our need to be filled by Jesus Christ, is our longing for fellowship. We long to develop relationships. We long to be a part of a family, a friendship...a part of something.

Yet, in all of our jam packed calendars, looking for the filling there, we miss it.

We miss the simplicity of the now.

We miss the simplicity of the present.

Let's stop. Smell the roses. Literally.

Let's put our phones down. Let's put the mop down. Let's turn off the tv.

And look at the faces around us. The people with a beating heart and blood running through their pulsing veins.

Let's engage with the realness of skin and eyes and hearts.

Let's be in tune with those touching the hem of our lives....in desperate need of love, affection, listening to, and  eye contact.

The greatest way to love is by being present.

All there. Where we are.

We will see things we never saw before. Right under our very nose.

Be present.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
   a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
  a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
   a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
   a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
   a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
  a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3-4


smelling my roses,


jill

















Jun 20, 2017

Mother to Mother....

Dear Mrs. Warmbier,

You have not left my thoughts. You have not left my prayers.

My soul groans, deep guttural groans, that only a mother can understand.

I can only imagine the hours, days, months, that you have been on your knees praying for your son to come home.

Little I know of your faith. In fact, I know nothing at all.

However, I know that tragedy draws us close to the Creator like nothing else. The darkness draws our souls to Light. The Light that birthed us into creation.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

God carries us in these moments. Whether we understand or realize, we are held by Him.

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

I fully saw the likes of this verse lived out with my own two eyes several years ago.

Visiting a friend, a mother-friend, in a children's hospital.

I walked into the room where her blonde haired, blue eyed daughter lie still.

Chords, machines, tangled around her small body.

Looking so much like the little girl I had back at home, healthy and bouncing with life.

My knees almost gave way. I saw the chipped polish on her tween toes and almost fell right down on the cold floor.

Only the strength of her mother next to me kept me from falling flat out.

We walked out of the room and I fell into my friend's arms.

She held me.

The irony.

She was the mother of this child in need of a miracle in a cold hospital bed.

It was her daughter in that room mangled up by wires and machines.

Yet, she had Strength I had never witnessed before that day.

God was carrying her.

You can ask her today, and she will tell you the same.

Mrs. Warmbier,

God will carry you.

In fact, He is carrying you.

As I ironed my daughter's clothes this afternoon, I gazed at the pink shirt. Going over the wrinkles, over and over and over. Like, I would bring your son back to life if I could just get this wrinkle to unravel. The heat of the iron almost burning right through that shirt. I pressed down hard. Tears streaming down my cheeks.

I get to iron her shirt.

She will get to wear this shirt.

You will never get to do this for Otto again.

My son is 6 years younger than your son.

Just a few years apart.

My heart cannot even begin to fathom...

The grief you feel, the pain you feel...

The loss of what could have been..

Never getting to see the marriage...

the child he would father...

the dreams that you dreamed for him...

the first moment you laid eyes on him coming out of your womb covered with your blood and insides...

Can a mother's heart bear this?

I would say no.

But, I know otherwise.

I have seen the faces of women close to me who have lost...

Tragically lost...

They have been carried. They are being carried.

We have all witnessed it.

Something not quite understood by mere words...

Some kind of peace and hope that can only come from the Peace and Hope Who Is.

And he will be our peace...Micah 5:5

I think about Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Watching her Son on that cross.

The injustice.

Oh, the injustice.

The cruelty.

The hatred.

The murdering tongues spewing hate speech at the Son of God.

At her son.

Mary knows your grief.

She understands.

Three days...

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness  2 Peter 3:8

She saw her Son again.

She beheld Him with her weary, tear-filled eyes.

Mother, meet son. Son, meet mother.

The time came.

The fullness of time came...

Her tears were wiped dry.

Her heart was mended.

Her grief turned to joy.

Her ashes to beauty.

Mrs. Warmbier,

the time will come for you.

Mother, meet son. Son, meet mother.

For the space between..

The hard days.

The long days.

The heart wrenching, brutal days.

I pray for peace.

I pray for comfort.

I pray He carries you until you meet your son...

Again.


love,

jill












Jun 9, 2017

Go BIG...


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"Be truly glad .There is wonderful joy ahead" 1 Peter 1:6

Today is a big day in our house.

It's my husband's birthday!

Birthdays are big around here. My Mom always made them big for us growing up, and she still does.

We don't just get a birthday "day", we get a birthday "week"!

My Mom makes us feel so special and loved. Like, the day we were born was the greatest day of all!

So, I am trying to follow in her big footsteps with this tradition.

This morning, I woke up thinking, "How can I make Lem's day super special?"

However, instantly, I thought this thought, "I need to have this mentality every day! Not just birthdays!"

What if we chose to wake up every single day and celebrate our people?

What if we chose to shower our people with BIG love, BIG affection, BIG kindness, BIG attention, BIG acts of service, and BIG words of encouragement?

Our circumstances will not always make us want to desire to do this. [hello loud kids, laundry, and dirty dishes]

However, regardless of our circumstances, we can choose to do it anyway.

Let's celebrate our people BIG today. Not just because it may or may not be their birthday, but because we LOVE them and we want them to feel special and unique and loved.

Make them a cake. Write them a card. Buy them a treat. Surprise them with coffee or lunch. Play a game with them. Speak love over them.

Celebrate BIG today.

Celebrate BIG tomorrow.

Celebrate BIG forever.


going BIG,

jill









Jun 8, 2017

Marriage and the Big O....

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[original post 6/5/16]

"admonish the young women to love their husbands" Titus 2:4

Last week my daughter casually said to me. "Why do you make everything look so "magical" when you post pictures on Instagram, Mom?'

Gulp.

I thought before I answered her back.

"Because a lot of the time, this is the way I see things, Presley. I could focus on the negative and the awful, but I have to make a choice to focus on the GOOD. The magical."

Then, I shared this verse with her:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Many days in life are not so magical. In fact, they are downright ugly.

This, my friends, is where obedience comes in. Summer of Obedience, remember?

Through obedience we focus on the good.

Through obedience we focus on the lovely and admirable.

Through obedience we make a choice to change our mindset.

Life is not always magical. But life with a changed mindset, focused on Jesus, will be more magical than your little heart can handle.

This has nothing to do with our circumstances. Our circumstances can scream chaos, loneliness, betrayal, poverty, tragedy...

But, it is how we choose to process these things that change how we view them.

I like to call it a heavenly mindset.

Many would see it is "naive" to think that way.

Oh, but on the contrary, it takes a mind and heart full of resolve and the strength of Christ to be able to see the magical.

It's believing in God and His Promises more than we believe in our circumstances.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

My husband and I have been married almost 18 years.

Marriage is HARD.

It is a choice.

If I focus on the ugly, I would be a miserable wife. And at times, I have been a miserable wife.

I have blamed him for many things when really, it was my own self-disgust that made me dislike him.

We cannot love others if we don't first love ourselves.

Matthew 22:39, commands us to "love others as ourselves". 

If we are finding it hard to love others, we need to put a big flashlight on how we love ourselves.

I'm not talking about conceit or vanity. I am talking about loving who God made us to be. Content with His design and mold for us. Content with our assignment and portion in life.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 16:5

When I am at full on disgust over myself, I find my relationships suffer. Especially my marriage. It gets hit the hardest. By far.

It takes obedience to trust that God is working in my marriage. It takes obedience to forgive my husband when he has hurt me. It takes obedience for me to hold my tongue instead of lashing out to my husband. It takes obedience to pray for him when I would rather spit on him. [eek]

I honestly believe that the biggest test of our love is through our marriages. It is truly the most difficult relationship I believe we will ever encounter on Earth. [no offense Lem]

Look around you. Look for thriving marriages. It's not human love that keeps them alive. It's obedience. It's choosing to trust God and His plan for marriage instead of our own plan. It's choosing every single day when we wake up to love our spouse despite what the day brings.

It's an acceptance that our assignments as wives is to love, honor, and respect when we have no reason on Earth to do so.

It's an acceptance and surrender of our own happiness in order to honor and promote the happiness of our spouses.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

This is a hard teaching. For all of us.

It goes against the grain of the world. The world tells us to put ourselves first. To look out for number one. To find happiness above anything else.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 5:13

When we lay down our lives in order to honor, love, and serve another over ourselves, we find true JOY.

We should never feel like martyrs or speak of our down-trodden situation in order to receive compassion and praise from others for "hanging in a tough marriage". This is not laying down our lives. This is not the love that Jesus speaks of. This is self-pity and self-absorption.

True obedience brings overflowing joy and a harvest of fruit. We will never regret obedience, especially when it comes to our marriages. We will not look at obedience as a chore, but as a pleasure.

1 John 5:3 says, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."

We will instead be filled to the rim with more joy than we can handle. It will spill over into your man's life. It will bubble over into the lives of your children. It will seep into the fabric of all of your relationships.

Serving our husband's will become delightful. Even when nothing in them has changed.

Our hearts will change.

Our attitudes will change.

Because we have discovered the secret...

"The Joy of the Lord is my strength" Nehemiah 8:10

We know that not a single act of obedience is ever wasted. God sees it all, and He's a lavishing Father.


life really is magical,


jill






Jun 6, 2017

Katie Couric and me....

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[original post 1/1/16]

At the beginning of every New Year, I get butterflies in my stomach. I feel anxiety come on, and it makes me feel nauseous.

It all started about ten years ago.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My family and I were in Orlando. Everyone was out by the pool at our hotel except for me and my one year old baby. It was her morning naptime, so we had come back inside the hotel room.

She was sound asleep and I had turned on the television.

The Today Show was on, and I began watching it. It just so happened to be Katie Couric's last day on the show. I loved her! I had always loved every segment of hers because she just lit up the room.

They were replaying old segments of her with the saddest music ever. Before long I was crying my eyes out in that hotel room by myself.

She was so darn cute. And smart. And successful. And loved.

Everyone loved Katie Couric. Including me.

And, well, here I was. Alone in a hotel room. Baby food splattered on my shirt. Two day old hair that still had knots in it from riding rides at Disney. Surrounded by baby toys, pink princess floaties, diapers and wipes. Impressive.

I sappily watched Katie's brilliant life being played out on t.v., while my life looked like Loserville in comparison.

She was 49 years old when she left the Today Show.

At that time, I was 30, with not a glimpse of a chance at a life like hers.

I cried. And cried. And cried.

In that moment I made a vow that I would make something of myself. Anything but who I was. A stay at home mom with stained shirts was not the life I wanted anymore. I wanted to be like Katie Couric. I wanted to be loved. Adored. Cute. Spunky. Successful. And well, just more.

 Before I could even wipe my tears and blow my nose, I heard my daughter crying in the other room. Well, naptime was over.

Back to reality.

Back to Loserville.

A few months passed and the year was coming to an end. This was my chance. My chance to make something of myself I thought.

A NEW YEAR, a new me! Yay!

I sat my husband down and talked to him about all of my big plans for the "new me".

He patiently listened. And listened. And listened.

After I spilled my heart out to him that cold December day, all he had to say was this..."Aww, you are just fine the way you are. I love you and that is all that should matter."

Thud.

Not what I wanted to hear. At all.

Words of encouragement are not his thing. Obviously.

So, as the dawn of a new year was on the horizon, a sadness came across my heart. An anxious feeling that haunted me. A feeling that made me wonder if the end of the next year would bring the same boring scenario for my life....the same old me.

With each passing year since Katie left the Today show, I have felt this same feeling. The feeling that tells me that I am just not quite enough. I need to be more to really make a difference. To really be somebody.

However, this year is different.

Something changed.

Something has settled in my 40 year old heart.

40 is a very powerful and biblical number. Story after story from the Bible speaks about the number 40. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. The rain fell for 40 days on Noah's ark when the rain flooded the world. Jesus fasted for 40 days before His teaching ministry began.

There is something about 40 that brings change. Whether it's 40 days or 40 years.

This year has definitely brought a lot of change. A change in our family.  A change in our living situation. And many more changes.

A lot of change in one year.

As I prepared to write this post, I just kept thinking of Nehemiah. I love Nehemiah. He was a cupbearer for the King. Which literally means, he brought the King his cup of wine each day. Yet, God laid it on his heart to rebuild a wall around Jerusalem to protect the people. Nehemiah was so concerned about the people in Jerusalem. They were falling away from their faith and being destroyed by their enemies. He weeped, prayed and fasted for them night after night.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:4-7
 
Nehemiah led a pretty cozy life. He didn't have to leave the comforts of the King's palace to go help these people, yet, he did.

He ended up encouraging the people of Jerusalem and rebuilding the wall. It was an amazing feat! It only took them 52 days to rebuild it. 52 days!

The people were amazed. Their hearts quickly turned back to God because of  one's man courage, faith, and love for these people.

Here is what I find interesting about this story....

Nehemiah didn't build a whole new city from scratch...he just helped rebuild the wall.

Rebuilding the wall is all it took for restoration to take place and the people's heart to be restored back to God.

Nehemiah didn't have to have great skill, good looks, or much education to do this great work. He just had to hear God's voice, and have the boldness to go and do the job.

There are some areas in my life this year that need a little rebuilding. A little work to repair some of the breeches.

I don't need to find a whole new me to make a difference in this world. I just need to rebuild a few areas God has called me to work on. I just have to say YES to His plan and design for my life. Not for Katie Couric's life.

When we try to design our life like another's we end up having not being of much use in God's Kingdom. He designed each of us for very specific tasks. It is not up to us to decide that our tasks are not "enough". He is the Potter, we are the clay.

What needs a little rebuilding in your life this year?

Your marriage? Your prayer life? Your bible reading? Your friendships? Your finances? Your gifts and talents?

Whatever it is, go, and don't look back.

One of my very favorite passages from the book of Nehemiah is this, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." Nehemiah 6:3

The next time the enemy whispers in your precious ear that you are not "enough". Shoot this scripture right back at him with a fiery fervency..."I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."

You are enough.

Because God created you in His very own image. [Genesis 1:27]

Imagine that.

You shine the brightest when you are who He created you to be.

A little rebuilding, a little restoration. That's all we need.

Your greatest work has already begun. Before you were even born...

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.
     Psalm 139:13-16


goodbye Katie Couric,


jill

Jun 4, 2017

Keep it simple....

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1,2

If there is one word I could use to describe the desire of my heart for this season, it would be...

Simplify.

The problem with simplifying is that it means taking out things. Letting go of things. Getting away from things that have been a normal part of my routine.

As the world goes on, life seems to get less simple by the minute. The irony is that new inventions in technology are to help "simplify" our lives. Yet, we find ourselves overwhelmed by all the "stuff" we accumulate trying to keep up with a fast paced world.

I remember when texting first came on the scene. I thought, "wow, now I can keep up with all of my friends so much easier!"

Yet, now I find that it is just another thing to add to my to-do list. Another minute out of my already full day.

**I love to text! But, I have found that it steals many, many moments of my time. Time that would be better spent soaking in the moment that I am currently in.

Face to face is so much sweeter. It is never wasted time to be sitting across from someone watching their facial expressions and listening to the hum of their voice telling a story. I never tire of conversations like that.

So, although a text would be so much faster, I find the simpler way is to reach out and go visit someone. Sit next to them or across from them and just enjoy their company.

Another way I am trying to simplify is with my time with God each day.

I used to have a table full of Christian devotional books next to me to read, underline, and try to absorb every ounce of knowledge from. I still love these books, but I have found that my Bible and my prayer journal is really all I need these days.

My nerdy nature loves to dig and read commentary on scripture passages. However, I have found that there is a time for that and there is a time for just sitting before the Lord. Just Him and me.

Simplify.

Even being a mother to my children, I can make complicated. Like, being anxious about how they are doing and turning out. Racking my brain on ways to be a better mom, a better teacher, and a better whatever to them.

Really, my kids just want me present. Engaged. Listening. And not always talking at them.

I have noticed that sometimes they just want me in the room. No talking required. [this is hard for my verbal self]

Simplify.

Then, there is my marriage. Gosh, I could go on for days here.

So many years, let me repeat, so many years, I have tried to complicate things in my marriage. I would spend so much time trying to figure out how to make Lem be more _________. Whatever it was I was desiring him to be. Some of those things were: faithful, romantic, prayerful, discerning, loving...

I focused so much on trying to fit him in this mold...

When, I love the mold he already is! I married this mold! [to be clear: not the smelly fungus mold]

Somewhere along the way, I just got lost in what I "thought" Lem needed to be.

Lem is not perfect, and neither am I. By a long shot.

My desire to change him all of those years brought discontent to my heart.

Just love him. It's so simple.

When you love someone, you just love them. No strings attached. No games. No manipulation.

 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love God. Love your neighbor.

Last time I checked, Lem was my closest neighbor. We share a bed for heavens sake.

Simplify.

Just love our husbands. God will take care of the rest.

Do you need to simplify some stuff too?

Ask the Lord to help you.

He will.

**note to friends: I still want to text. but, hey, let's do coffee soon. :)


simplifying,

jill










A cluttered mind...

[Original post 5/3/16]

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 16:5

This verse from Psalm has been on my heart a whole lot lately. When you let the words burrow deep into your soul, you start to feel a peace that blankets every inch of your body.

He, alone, is my portion.

He, alone, is my cup.

He makes my life secure.

The end.

Why do I wrestle with Him then?

Why do I allow other things to fill my cup that never even satisfy?

Why do I worry and have an anxious heart when He is what makes my life secure?

This one little scripture has caused many un-doings in my soul. In a good way.

I'm on a de-cluttering mission.

De-cluttering from so many things that fill my cup. Things that are not necessarily bad things, but they clutter my cup and then confusion strikes. I look into my cup and I cannot make out one clear thing because of the clutter. Too many good things can still be clutter.

For example, how many calendars does one woman need? For heaven's sake, I have three right here next to me. My phone, my refrigerator calendar, and my cute little Lilly Pulitzer day planner calendar. Not to mention the apps on my phone that I schedule things on. Really? I'm tired just thinking about all that.

Another example--devotionals. Sigh. Yes, good good things. But, Lord, how many daily devotionals do I need to read? I get two delivered daily to my inbox. I have three devotional books sitting on my night stand as we speak. I also have signed up for daily devotionals on my bible app. Whew, I'm tired!

He, alone, is my portion.

Here's my take on too many devotionals, too many podcasts, too many blah, blah, blah....

Maybe God just wants a one on One date with me? Why do I have to be a third wheel and include Beth Moore or Lysa Terquerst on every date?

Would I like it if I went on a date with my man and he brought a friend along to help us along with our conversation?

Something I have observed about the life of Jesus...He was constantly getting away from people to be alone with God. He knew He needed his cup filled. From His Father. One on One.

Please don't misunderstand me. I love devotionals. In fact, this post that you are reading is a devotional, I suppose.

However, we need to be careful how much we ingest each day. My doctor once told me that it is good to take vitamins, but not to overdo it or my body will react negatively. In other words, too much of a good thing is too much.

I have a tendency to be on the side of  "too much".  I  think, "well, if a little is good, then a LOT must be better!"

[You can look under my bathroom sink and see the truth of this played out. I mean, how many hair products does one woman need?]

I have a challenge for us. How about before we ingest anything, we ingest His Word and then we invest time in prayer with Him.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

If the Lord is to direct our steps, we must hear from Him. Personally. One on one.

After our time with Him, He may affirm His words to us through a devotional or a person. However, we don't need to clutter our cup with too much "stuff". This only causes distraction and confusion.

He, alone, is my cup.

We will know our assignment each day instead of walking around in confusion when we spend time with Him.  He will lead us each day. In every moment.

When we know He is enough, and our assignments are directed by Him, we have security.

He, alone, makes my lot secure.

When our minds are crowded and cluttered, it creates a lack of peace. It creates confusion.

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33


Decluttering,


jill