Apr 9, 2020

Hard and Holy Days...

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Memory Scripture: 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

When my children were very small, my daughter woke up on Easter morning with a high fever.

There is no way she could go to church and all of the activities we had planned that day.

I was devastated.

She had the cutest little blue Easter dress, and I had the same color blue dress to wear.

Ugh. What I waste, I remember thinking.

My husband and son got dressed and went to church that Easter morning.

Presley and I were left at home, still in pajamas, disheveled and blurry eyed.

This was one of my most memorable Easter Sundays.

Instead of being miserable at home with her, I was surprised at how I enjoyed it.

No rush of getting ready. No flood of camera flashes trying to get the perfect family Easter picture.

It was calm. Peaceful. Serene.

We read the Easter story together in her children's Bible and snuggled up close in my bed.

What began as a disastrous morning, ended in a blissful quiet day at home.

This Easter, will be similar for all of us.

We will be at home. With our families. Maybe in pajamas, maybe not.

No rush to get to church on time. No rush to prepare the perfect side dish for the family Easter egg hunt. No rush to get an Easter haircut for the family.

This year will be different.

And, I have a suspicious feeling, that we will all look back on this Easter Sunday with fondness.

Peace. Quiet. Reflection. Rest. Anticipation.

Just like those disciples that sat at the feet of Jesus each day to soak in His teaching and His love....

They sat in quiet that Friday and Saturday after His death on the Cross.

Just like us...they wondered what their future would hold.

Just like us...they wanted to believe that life would somehow get back to normal. 

Just like us...they wondered...how could it ever?

Just like us...they had witnessed unbearable suffering. 

Just like us...they had regrets and doubts mixed in with their often struggling faith. 

Just like us...they waited.  They grieved. They cried. They told stories. 

They also hoped. They also  prayed. They also believed. 

Just like us. 

Imagine their faces that Sunday morning when they saw Jesus. Healthy, Whole, and Healed.

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-23

With all of my heart, I believe that we will miss these times together with our children, and loved ones under our roof.

I know, I know...it seems suffocating at times...I know all too well.

But, the hardest times are often the holiest times. 

When nothing but a thread of faith hold us together most days, that's when God delivers the greatest miracles.

We don't know what tomorrow holds...but really, did we ever?

This Easter will be one we tell stories about for many generations to come.

Savor it.



the best is yet to come,


jill










Apr 6, 2020

A heart at home...

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Memory Scripture: 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

As I washed my hands for the millionth time one day recently, a scripture passage popped into my head...{hello Jesus}

It was this one...

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Matthew 23:26


I thought about the irony that I was scrubbing profusely to take away germs, when really, what I needed was a heart cleanse.

God cares for the cleanliness of our hearts over the cleanliness of our outer bodies.

I had to ask myself this question: Am I as concerned about my heart as I am my hands during this time?

Several days have passed since I asked that question.

God has re-routed this message to my mother heart.

Is the inside of my home as taken care of as I portray to the outside world?

God has a biblical design for families. The wife is to care, nurture, love, teach, to have self-control, to be kind, to be reverent.

Titus 2 makes it pretty clear our role as wife and mother.

 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

So often, my heart gets this all tangled up.

I remember in 2012 when I first started blogging here on SHINE Girls. My life became a crazy train of chaos. My children were small.

Writing, teaching, and trying to disciple other women became my focus. For a while.

I had big plans. Big dreams. Big visions of teaching and encouraging women.

Yet, my home was beginning to show signs of cracks.

I was not listening to my kids.

I was not teaching them as much.

I was not caring for my husband the way I needed to be during that time.

But, because I was doing "God's Work", I thought it was okay.

Until, it wasn't.

Several things began to unravel, and God caught my attention.

The very thing I was trying to teach, was exactly what I was neglecting.

We can become so obsessed by our "mission", that we neglect our greatest mission of all....

Our home life.

I liked the way women's ministry felt.

I liked the attention.

I liked pouring into others.

I liked praying for others.

I liked it all.

However, my priorities were out of whack. In a big way.

Our fruit will not be everlasting unless we first bury those seeds deep into the soils of our homes.

Sometimes, on the outside, it looks like we are doing all the godly things.

When on the inside of our homes, it looks the exact opposite.

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Matthew 23:26

I see no irony here that God has called us all back to our homes.

Do you see it?

We are circling our dinner tables again. We are talking. We are praying. We are listening to each other.

We are checking in on neighbors, instead of trying to reach the world through the internet.

When the teachers of the law asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied..

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


We have been given this opportunity. This chance to love our family. Embrace them. Nurture them. Teach them. Disciple them.

Our reach will broaden eventually, our fruit will expand.....but it starts in the home. 

Our memory verse will remind us each day this week to take care of these little things at home. They are the big things.

Memory Scripture: 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


desiring clean hands and a clean heart,


jill



Apr 3, 2020

Good News...

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Memory Scripture: "I sought the Lord and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Not sure about you, but I have been devouring the internet lately for GOOD NEWS.

This passage in Isaiah perfectly sums up what my heart and soul are craving...

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! Isaiah 52:7

Desperately, I am craving good news. How about you?

Today, I come bearing good news.

We have a winner in our SHINE bible give-away! The winner is MeLissa Allen!

MeLissa, you have no idea how it makes my whole entire week to be able to gift you with this amazing Bible!!

Want more good news?

This Sunday is Palm Sunday!

Let's take the time to talk about what Palm Sunday means with our families. As we lead up to Easter, let's cherish long talks and biblical conversations with our kids, friends and families.

Many of us before this time have been crunched for time. Days have been jam packed with jobs, phone calls, emails, cooking, cleaning, serving.....the list goes on.

With most of us being quarantined to our homes we have more time.

For such a time as this....we have this unique and rare opportunity.

 To teach. To learn. To talk. To listen. To laugh. To cry. To pray. 

We have been given this forced pause in our daily routines....we can use it wisely if we ask the Lord how.

God's word tells us that our times are in His Hands. Psalm 31:15

None of this is a surprise to God.

Many of us are fearful, worried, anxious. I understand.

However, we must look to Jesus--in the calm and in the storm.

There is no safer place to be.

When you need Jesus in an anxious moment, use these Names to call on Him. Over and over.


(This was copied from the Blue Letter bible website)

There is no better time to draw close to Jesus. We are approaching Easter, the Holiest day of our Christian calendar.

Much like the first disciples must have felt that first Easter, we are in great need of a miracle. We are in great need of Peace and Comfort.

He will answer that call.

He is the GOOD news.

Forever and always.



expectant,



jill




Apr 1, 2020

The Kindness Cure...

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Memory Scripture: "I sought the Lord and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

I've noticed something over these past few weeks. I bet you have too.

Kindness.

It's rampant in our community, our state, and in our country.

We have all had good intentions to show kindness, but often the follow through never happens.

Why?

Because we are busy. Busy. Busy.

The thought to do something kind for someone comes, we smile, but just as soon as the thought comes a distraction occurs. A deadline. A cramped schedule. A chaotic day.

Jesus was the ultimate Kindness Giver. Countless stories of Him stopping, touching, healing, caring, listening....

Jesus had a lot to do. But, He always had time for others. He cared about their needs. He cared about their suffering.

We also can learn a lot about kindness by the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. Here is the story:

 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Wow. The priest passed right by the suffering man. Not just passed by, but crossed to the other side of the street to avoid him. 
The Samaritan man did just the opposite. He not only stopped, he cared for him and took him in. 
The last sentence sums it up for us..."Go and do likewise."
As we are all pretty much quarantined to our homes, we still have opportunities to spread kindness. Endless opportunities. 
A sweet friend dropped off coloring journals for my daughter and I to do. (Attached with a handwipe just in case!)
My sister and her daughters made "Covid Comfort" food for friends, family, and neighbors--banana nut bread and chocolate cake! Talk about a sweet treat!
Cooking meals for elderly neighbors and leaving it at their front door. Or ordering take out for neighbors and delivering to their door. 
Dropping off essential items to neighbors that are not able to go out. 
Sending notes in the mail to parents, grandparents, friends. My daughter sent notes to all of her grandparents last week and it made their day!
Writing scriptures or encouraging words on a neighbors drive way with side walk chalk, picking flowers and leaving them on doorsteps. 
Kindness is more contagious than covid-19. 
Kindness spreads fast and it brings warmth and community even among social distancing. 
Be the sunshine today for someone. Bring JOY through acts of kindness. It doesn't have to cost a dime. 
Send a note, a text, make a phone call. 
Now is the time, because we have the time. 
Kindness cures loneliness, sadness, anxiety, depression. Not just for the recipient but for the giver. 
Let's be a part of the Kindness Cure. Let's follow the example of Jesus and the Good Samaritan. 
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Proverbs 3:3

making a kindness come-back, 

jill





























Mar 31, 2020

No Fear...

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Memory Scripture: "I sought the Lord and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Every morning I wake up, and often it feels like groundhog day. Another day, same routine. Again and again.

Can you relate?

I know it is a little different for all of us, some working from home, homeschooling, etc.

Others, leaving their homes to go to work, like my husband.

As I was walking yesterday, easily getting my 10,000 steps these days, I felt a familiar feeling.

I remembered walking with my newborn in our neighborhood, he was freshly 3 weeks old. I would stroll up and down the quiet street envisioning his future. The days were long, but so sweet and quiet. The year was 2001.

This is the feeling I felt when I was walking yesterday. This peaceful quiet, even among the unrest of the world and the unknown, this unshakable and undeniable peace.

One day, after one of my morning strolls with my newborn son, I came back home and the world changed in the blink of an eye.

September 11th, 2001.

My peaceful life turned fearful. Anxiety came upon me and suffocated my lungs.

From that moment on, life seemed like it had two parts. Before 9/11, and after 9/11.

Many days, I wondered if the world would ever be the same. Would my life ever be the same?

I just had this precious baby, and now this?

Almost 19 years later, I can look back and see that life did get better.

Things slowly got back to normal, and the fear eventually faded.

Those were some of the hardest days of my life. Panic, fear, doctors appointments upon therapy appointments to figure out why I could not sleep or breathe.

Anxiety feels like suffocation. I relate it to the "deadly pestilence" described in Psalm 91.

If you are feeling this, pray Psalm 91 over and over. Memorize it. Sleep on it. I have a friend who makes pillow cases with scripture on them. I lay my head down every night on Psalm 91.

(I cannot think of a better gift to give someone right now..check out Renee's shop and her blog!)

19 years later, I have learned the secret to Peace. God's Word.

I have a small CD player that plays God's Word in my home all day long. It is always humming in the background.

 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


Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105



Today, I am thankful for that time of suffering. It drew me to the heart of Jesus and to His Word. I have never turned back.

Friend, life will get better. His Word says there is nothing new under the sun.  

In the meantime, what can we do during the pause?  The stillness?

Read His Word. Pray. Memorize scripture. Encourage others around you.

I learned that fear came when I was self-absorbed and filling my mind with the world and its truths.

God's ways and His thoughts are higher. We must fill up on His Truth.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9


Several times over the past couple of weeks, I have wanted to call wise friends and ask them what will happen at the end of this. I have wanted to get their thoughts and wisdom. I was desperate for answers.

Yet, every time, before I pick up the phone, I hear a whisper in my soul..."You can ask Me, Jill."

So often and so many times we want the world to answer our deepest questions and concerns. Those answers can be found in God's Word.

Every. Single. One. 

Want peace? Read God's Word. Meditate on it.

 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


When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies. Jeremiah 15:16


We began a new reading plan back in January. We are reading through a bible called, The Daily Walk Bible. You can find it here. 

**It would be an honor for me to purchase one for one of you! If you would like this Bible for you or for a friend, I will draw a name on Friday.

You can email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com if you would like to be entered!

Our Memory Scripture for this week: I sought the Lord and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4


Let's continue to seek Him daily in His Word and in this season of pause. There will be much fruit and much peace as we draw near.


no more fear,


jill




Mar 26, 2020

The Cup...

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Memory Scripture: The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1


Day 11. 

I feel ashamed.

I see now, what I did not see then.

The busy. 

The chaos. 

The averting of the eyes because I just did not have time to talk. 

The quick, "God bless him", every time I would see my homeless friend walking. 

The missed opportunities. Over and over. 

The importance of things that were not important. 


I feel ashamed.

I see now, what I did not see then.

Through this time, this quiet, this rest, this unknown....

God shows me more in the unknown than I ever could see in the "known".

I passed him again today on my walk. My daughter said, "Mom, there he is."

Today, I had time.

I had plenty of time.

What else is there to do these days anyway?

We talked to him, my homeless friend.

He asked where I had been....

I had no answer as my cheeks flushed pink...

"Too busy...I guess...." My words trailed off.

I feel ashamed.

He was thirsty and I could tell. He asked if I could get him a cup...

A cup....

I was standing on Holy Ground.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14

I was near my house....I told him I would be back with a cup.

Scrounging up some food and water and toiletries....all I could find to help him get through the next week or so, I was ashamed.

I hesitated before throwing in my last roll of clorox wipes.

Lord, forgive me. I am selfish and self-centered. 

The homeless man said he needed nothing, and he was right.

It was me that needed something....

A whole lot of something. Something like mercy, compassion, sacrifice...

Yet, here I was pausing before putting my clorox wipes in a bag for him.

I feel ashamed.

My daughter and I took the bag of things back to him.

He was grateful.

Oh, so grateful.

He has nothing.

I have so much more.

Yet, he is the grateful one.

I had just prayed for the last two days for God to open my eyes. Show me who needs You, Lord. Help me to help others. 

And yet, the irony...

It was me who needed help.

As we are quarantined to our homes...

I see it as a blessing now.

My homeless friend has a van (that does not run) for a home.

The library he spends hours on end in, is closed indefinitely.

Yet, I am complaining about being stuck in a home with water, and food, and children, and pets and air conditioning and warm beds, and laughter and people....

I feel ashamed.

But, He is changing me.

Ripping away the ingratitude, the pride, the self-centeredness....

He is doing a work here. And I am grateful.

My homeless friend has no idea that he is the blessed one.

So grateful. And simple. And has time to talk to others. Not rushing about...averting the eyes.

Change me, Lord. Glue my spiritual eyes open, and help me to see. 



handing over my cup,


jill










Mar 24, 2020

Survival Tips...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
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Memory Scripture: The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1


Day 9. 

Good morning, friends!

I have a special treat for you, My dear friend, Lisa Inlow, is sharing her heart with you today. Lisa is full of wisdom and she always points us right back to Jesus.

Be blessed by her words!

SHINE Post by Lisa Inlow:

Hello Shine Girls!

Wow y'all these last 10 days have been crazy.  Scary.  Extremely Unsettling.  Anxiety producing.

Here are a few things I'm doing daily to keep my thoughts and fears on the low as in times like these thoughts and fears can definitely and understandably run at an all time high.

Psalm 91, reading it aloud every day with my family.  The words in this passage are powerful.  Grip on to them!  Claim them boldly for your family!  God Almighty's Holy Spirit lives inside of you, stand strong in this fact.

In the morning and morning only, I check the CDC website for the latest numbers for our state and the county I live in, Gwinnett.  Outside of that, I do not watch the news or read articles.  Take this tidbit for what it is, what works for me.  Maybe it will work for you as well.

I am also writing in a journal every single thing, big, small, tiny or seemingly silly, that the Lord has shown me today.  It's "funny" how in times of uncertainty we see and hear our Savior so much clearer.  Take advantage of this and write it down.  It also serves as a reminder on the days to come where we cannot get out of the emotional weeds!  We can go back to our journals and remember how he met us, here, in the awfulness that is currently upon us.

Pray!!!  I'm also praying for those who do not walk with Jesus.  We know our Father allows difficult times as a way to bring his children to His arms.  I'm praying for those folks that they will see their need for the Savior and run to him!

Have you been avoiding your Savior?  Are there parts of your heart that you are holding on to, white-knuckled even though he's been chatting with you to hand it over?  I get it sister!  Release the grip.  It's scary, but it's renewing.  Let Him love and comfort you in that space.  He's so trustworthy.

One day at a time.  Or on some days, one hour at a time.  Grab the Father's hand.  See it?  It's reaching out for you...

It's time to shine.

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


Hard and Holy Days...

SHINE Reading Plan:  Go here.  Subscribe to SHINE emails:  Go here. Memory Scripture: If you are faithful in little things, you will be fa...