Jul 23, 2019

Going Dark.....

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For the last several days, I have gone dark. 

Translation=no social media. 

I deleted my Instagram, my connection to the "world". 

This is not the first time I have done this. I have taken breaks, even really long breaks before. 

Here's what I have discovered when I quiet my world....

I pray more. Like a LOT more. 

I am more present. 

I listen to my husband and kids more. 

Again, because I am present. 

I write more. Hello, blog. 

I read more. Like a TON more. 

I listen to Christian Podcasts, or my Bible app. more. 

I judge less. 

I am agitated less. 

I complain less. 

I compare less. 

I desire less. 


These are just a few things that I have noticed each time I log off for a while. 

My reason for logging off this time was because of something my 17 year old son said in the car one day. 

I was telling my husband about someone on Instagram, who I don't even know very well.  I was describing some of their posts and making judgmental comments about this person. 

I had found myself secretly rolling my eyes when I read a post from this person. 

My son spoke up and said, "Mom, you wouldn't feel this way if you were not on Instagram. You are judging someone that you do not even know that well. Is that really good?"

Side note--it never ever feels good when your child points out a lack of judgment in your life. But, it sure makes an impact. 

My son was absolutely right. 

I prayed about his words. I asked God to forgive me for being quick to judge. 

The next day, I deleted the Instagram app from my phone. 

Here is the thing about me--I cannot just "not look at it". It won't work. I will be lured back in. 

I have to just delete the app so that I won't be tempted to log back on. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Instagram. It can definitely be a tool of witness. 

However, it can also do damage to our hearts (and to others) if we are not careful. 

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

How do we make the "most of every opportunity?"

Sometimes, it may look like removing something from our lives that can make us stumble. Or make us distracted.

My friend Lisa, said something recently that really resonated in my heart. 

She said, I find myself asking, what is the wiser choice here?

Wow. What perspective. 

What if we asked ourselves this on the regular. 

When we find ourselves "bored" or just trying to fill the time through idleness....

Maybe we could ask ourselves...."What is the wiser choice here? How can I make the most of this opportunity?"

That moment in the car was eye and heart opening for me. 

I am not normally a bitter or judge-y person. I love people. ALL people. 

So, what happened to make my heart and mouth say such things about someone I did not even really know?

I think when our hands are idle, we let the guard down on our hearts. 

13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 1 Timothy 5:13

We are not actively guarding our hearts and sure enough, the enemy will find a way to creep in and take up space. 

If we are to remain online, we must guard our hearts. We must take those thoughts (and eyeballs) captive to the obedience of Christ. 

So, Instagram and I are on a break. 

Who knows how long it will last. 

I just know that I need a re-set. 

My heart desperately longs to do the "wiser" thing in all areas of my life. 

Those pockets of time can be filled differently. With more prayer. More bible reading. More listening. More checking on my elderly neighbors. 

Just more.

What about you? Is there an area in your life that you may need to ponder the "wiser" choice?

If unsure, ask the Lord. He will certainly let you know.  He may just speak it through one of your children. :)



scrolling less, 


jill






















Jul 19, 2019

Speak Less....

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2

I read this scripture in the car yesterday with my kids. We talked about what it meant. We gave examples of how we and others are inclined to share their opinions. Even when not asked. 

In the digital age of social media, and internet platforms, it is very hard NOT to air our opinions. We often think the world needs to know what we have to say. 

But, that is not always the case. So often, God's Word teaches us to hold our tongues. Even telling us that fools are thought wise when they keep their mouths shut. [Proverbs 17:28] Wow. 

When we speak/post/share before wisely thinking it through, it affects others. Not always for the good.

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21

It takes discipline and lots of prayer and wisdom to hold our tongues. I have not perfected it and have a very long way to go. 

However, I want to be wise. I want to be more understanding, and I want to be a listener instead of constantly talking/sharing/posting. 

Since I love to write, I often will post things on Instagram just to get the words out. However, I have to be careful with my words. 

Others are watching. And listening. And taking it all in. 

Do my words honor God or am I just trying to get my point across. 

This has been my struggle with social media. If we are not careful it can become self-focused and self-centered. And self-promoting. 

We can also become a stumbling block to others. Paul pointedly speaks of this in the book of Romans. 

13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Romans 14:13

I recently posted pictures of a vacation my family and I were on. A few weeks later, I asked the Lord to please not let those pictures be a stumbling block to others. 

The only reason I knew to pray this was because I have felt that way when coming across posts. It is not necessarily our intention to make others feel this way, but we still must seek wisdom before we act. 

Social media is just a glimpse of the good days. Often filtered so much that the truth barely squints through. 

Listen closely. I am not saying that we have to be afraid to post a picture or talk. I am just saying that we need to become wiser and more thoughtful about the way things will come across a filtered screen. 

Like it or not, others are watching. Always watching and taking it in. 

A dear friend called me about an hour ago saying this exact thing. She reminded me that even when we think no one is listening or watching, someone always is. 

For those of us on the older spectrum--young girls and young mothers are watching. Learning. 

How are we behaving online and offline? 

Would we want our daughters doing what we do? 

If not, let's do better. 

Let's speak less and listen more. 

Let's lead by our actions and not just our words. 

Being a Christian in today's culture is a high calling. We cannot take it lightly. God has called us specifically to this era of time for such a time as this. 

What an honor it is, and we must make the most of every opportunity. 


listening more, 


jill










Jul 18, 2019

Letter to the wives....


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(re-post from 7/22/15)

A few weeks ago, I woke up praying for my husband. I think it may have even been audible. I quickly got up, made my coffee, and went to my favorite spot on our couch.

Bible in one hand, coffee in the other, I began to pray over Lem fervently. Clearly the Lord had laid him on my heart so heavily for a reason.

A few hours later, Lem texted me a picture of he and I and told me how much he loved me. Just for the record--this is rare. Not that he was texting me or saying that he loved me--but in such a romantic and out of the blue way. That part was rare. ;)

It made my day. It made my week.

I may never know why the Lord prompted me to pray so fervently for Lem that morning, but He sure made it clear I was to pray.

If I am honest, I will admit that Lem in the past has been on the back burner of my attention. A lot of my attention went to my kids, my friends, my bible studies---anything but him. Those things are all very good things, but the order was all messed up.

My heart needed a re-set.

One day I decided to do some biblical research on marriage and see what God said about it. I was heavily enlightened.

Nothing, except God, is to come before my marriage to Lem.

I am my husband's helper: "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18)

This is a serious calling for wives. We were created to "help" our men. The world has convinced us that other things and people need our help and attention more. This is false. Don't fall for the lie of the enemy.

If we are more available for our work, our friends, and our church than we are for our husband's, we need to change our priorities. Our husband's should get the absolute best of us, not what's left of us.

My words and my actions should be gentle and kind towards my husband: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Does the world get a kinder you than your husband does? Do you find it easier to forgive a friend than to forgive your man? Are the words that come out of your mouth sweeter to others than your man? We must work on this.

My husband and I are one: For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

Okay, here's where the rubber meets the road for many. I am not good at beating around the bush, so I will just be straight forward. Newsflash: Your husband's family is also your family. His mother? Your mother too. His father? Your father too.  His quirky siblings? Your family too.

Now, I know that there are some crazy messed up inlaws out there. I get it. However, speak kindly about them to your man. Don't insult his mother, his father, his crazy aunt. He may not seem like it bothers him, but rest assured it does. Our words have powerful influence over our men. Remember the story of Adam and Eve? Adam was easily convinced and persuaded by Eve. You know the rest of the story.

How about if we encouraged grace, love, and forgiveness in these crazy family situations? How about if we stayed quiet instead of chiming in with hateful words when it comes to family dysfunctions? [Please don't throw rocks at me] I know this is a sticky subject. Not one married person is immune from crazy family members. But, if we remember that our goal is peace and unity, it will help us to choose our words more carefully.

One more thought on this one...maybe, just maybe, God has put you in this family for a reason. Maybe your example of love and grace will change the course of history and strongholds in this family. I hope and pray that our Christian faith is not a turn-off because of our lack of love and grace for our husband's family. They are watching us. How will we react? How will we respond? Or will we ignore them and hope the go away. This is a huge calling girls. LOVE your husband's family. They are now YOUR family. The end.

I must be a peacemaker instead of a pot-stirrer: Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.(Proverbs 10:12)

Some days our men will come home stressed out. I mean like a ticking time bomb. On these days, Lem goes straight to the television. I let him diffuse as long as it takes. I have learned the hard way. ;)

Things happen at work with our men. Stress is inevitable. When our husband's have an issue with a co-worker, or someone outside of the home--what if we promoted love and peace in the situation? What if we listened quietly without chiming in with disparaging remarks? Again, our words have a lot of influence over our husband's. What if we make our words full of love and forgiveness? Instead of offering our solutions to their problems, let's listen and pray. Hatred stirs up strife. Love covers ALL sin. Don't we want our fellas to have some peace?

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day" Proverbs 27:15

Lord, help us to not be a drippy and quarrelsome wife.

I am praying over our marriages. Marriage is a gift from God that should be taken very seriously. We are walking on holy ground. Our marriages are sacred, therefor we should treat it as such.

Beginning with our men.


working on my dripping,


jill










Jul 17, 2019

Looking for your calling?

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I cannot believe I haven't written in almost two months. It is not that I have not had anything to write about, the Lord surely knows I have. I just have not had the time to sit down and let it all out of the tips of my typing fingers. 

However, this morning is slow. And sweet. And I am on my second cup of coffee...and ready to write. 

Have you ever felt the Lord calling you to something,  a stirring of sorts, but you just could not uncover what in the world He was asking you to do?

I find myself in this place. 

My journal is filled with pages of this burning desire to serve...to do....something. 

Yesterday was one of those days. I sat on my back porch watching the birds flit and flitter, and I just felt this overwhelming sense of calling for something. 

I ran inside and grabbed my bible. The Lord led me to the book of John. This is the third time He has led me here in the past month. To the exact same scripture. 

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:1-6

Ok, Lord, I get it. You are telling me to remain in You. But, what do you want me to do??
I read further on in the passage. Something I had overlooked before. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17
I read the last line over and over and over. To love each other. 
Something became crystal clear in my heart. Jesus told the questioning disciple that the greatest commandment was to love. Beyond serving, and ministering, and teaching, and preaching....
To Love. 
It has to be at the base of whatever it is we set out to do. 
I wonder how much we miss out on in our calling because we forget that one simple command. We miss the mark when love is not present in our relationships and dealings with others. 
With all of my beating heart, I believe that He will not use us if we do not know how to love others. The end. 
I think of David, the shepherd, the King.  The bible describes him as having "a heart like God's."
Since John 4:7 tells us that "God is Love", then David must have had a HUGE heart of love for others. 
God made David King of His people not because he was smart, or handsome, or a great leader. But, because David knew how to love others. 
We will never ever be able to serve others well unless we love them well. 
We can have the greatest talents in the world. A great speaking voice. Great writing skills. Great leadership skills. But, if we don't love others well....it doesn't amount to a thing. 
This can be a hard pill to swallow when we feel like everywhere we turn there are "difficult people." 
Lord, how can I love these people that are just so unlovable?
And, then I remember that He loves me. The most unlovable of all. 

In that same scripture, He tells us: so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.
This scripture is not promising a huge ministry. Or something supersized and impressive for the world to witness. 
No. 
It promises that if we remain in Him and love others well....we will bear fruit that will last
Whew. 
Sink your teeth into that. 
Talk about leaving a legacy. 
This is what we truly desire, right?
Long after we depart from Earth into Heaven, the seeds that we were sown in LOVE, will go on producing and producing and producing. 
As a mother, I see this Promise able to happen through my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on. 
Friends, maybe we need to stop asking the question, "What is my calling, Lord?" 
And start asking "who are you calling me to love, Lord?"

I think I am finally starting to get it. 

looking to love, 

jill










May 29, 2019

Roots.....

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Colossians 4:2

So, my son graduated over the weekend.

I am sure this will be just the first of MANY posts about this. I apologize in advance.

Since 2009, I have been praying for this day.

Yes, for the past 10 years I have been praying for my son and his graduation time.

My nephew graduated in 2009. I watched as my sister really had a hard time when we he left to go out of state for college.

I remember thinking, "My sister is not someone who just likes to cry. It must be really, really, really hard."

From that day on, I  made it a priority to pray.

I knew the state of my emotions and heart, and I knew that only Jesus could keep me from falling apart.

I will say this to the mother's who have yet to come to this season, God does prepare your heart.

Especially when you pray. 

To the mother's beyond this season in motherhood, I am looking at you to see that it really will be okay.

Many mother friends of mine have crossed this path already, and such HOPE it brings my heart to see that life does go on and the new normal becomes "normal-ish".

As I was praying about this post and what I wanted to say, I just kept hearing the word, "content". (Philippians 4:11)

Contentment can only come from a heart surrendered to Jesus.

It is a daily surrender for me.

I want to be content with this season of life. 

I want to be content with growing older. 

I want to be content with my children growing older. 

I want to be content with a house that is quieter. 

I want to be content with less. 

I want to be content with all of it. 

As I look out my window and my fingers continue to type, I see the trees swaying in the slow Summer breeze.

That tree is strong, with deep roots.

I want to be like that tree. It has never moved from that spot. It sits still and unbothered by the constant changing of its leaves.

The tree towers over my back porch providing much needed shade for those that gather underneath.

Lord, help me to be like this tree to my people.

I want to be strong, rooted deep in my faith, and able to provide shade to those who need it around me.

When my children do come home, let me be like that tree. Providing a haven of comfort, joy, peace and protection from the heat of the day.

Each season the leaves change, they fall, they grow back again.

It is the rhythm and nature of life.

The trees know that the seasons do not last forever. They change.

But, with each new season comes Joy if we will embrace it.

Motherhood is not a calling that ends when your child turns 18.

Motherhood is a life long calling.

A calling that will continue to wake us up at night to pray. A calling that will go beyond the years when they do move out of the nest.

Motherhood encompasses a lifetime. Just like that tree outside my window.

Instead of toppling over when the winds get strong and the weather gets harsh, we burrow deeper into our relationship with Christ. Just like the roots of that tree burrow deep into the soil.

The deeper the root, the stronger the tree.

Motherhood will bring us to a place of strange oneness with God if we let it.

When I feel the pain of my insides when I think of my boy going away to college, I think about God.

Of all of the parents in the entire world, He alone knows my pain.

He knows before I even speak.

Sometimes I have felt so alone with this weird pang in my soul, only to find the greatest comfort in falling at the feet of Jesus.

This letting go of our children thing...

This watching them fly out of the protection of our nest...

This ache in our hearts for things to be different....


God knows. He knows all of it.

He too has ached.

For us.

For Jesus.

For all of His children.

He knows what this strange pain feels like. Like, no other.

This comfort, this peace. It can only be explained by the Miracle of God's love for us.

I have felt Him in a new way this season.

When for a flash of a moment I  have felt alone, I have felt the overwhelming grip of His Love.

When I have needed to talk, but words could never come out right to anyone...

He has listened.

Without me saying a word.

Do you find yourself in a lonely place?

I understand.

But, you are not alone. Ever.

He is with you. Right there next to you.

He sees you. (Psalm 139:1)

He feels every ounce of your pain.

And, in a strange way, without changing a thing, He will bring Peace to your heart.

A flood of Peace that does not even make sense.

He will bring a contentment that seems strange and different, but there none the less.

He has a plan for you too, momma.

Your child will not be the only one beginning something new. He has marked the path already for you as well.

All the prayers we pray over our babies, somehow, only by the breathtaking Love of God, come back to us. Covering us in a blanket of grace.

People will comment that you seem different.

Because you are.

God is doing a work in your heart too.

Those prayers, those dead in the night, early in the morning, prayers....

They are still being answered in more ways than you even imagined. (Ephesians 3:20)

Let that bring Hope to your weary heart.

Do not stop praying.

Ever.

Motherhood is a call to pray.

Pure and simple.

Yet, powerful and profound.



content,


jill






May 7, 2019

Pray, Fast, Wait, Repeat...

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If you haven't figured out already, for some reason the video I attached did not send in your SHINE email. However, it is posted on the website. Weird. Technology. Oops.


So, as I was cutting up an onion this afternoon, I kept going back to our reading in Nehemiah.

I have a tendency to jump the gun on things. When an idea strikes, I am ready to implement. This can be good sometimes, and NOT so good other times.

Nehemiah is teaching me a lot about waiting. And praying. And fasting. And waiting.

When Nehemiah heard about the state of Jerusalem, he literally wept. He grieved.

The Bible says, "When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of Heaven." Nehemiah 1:4


Nehemiah heard the tragic news  of Jerusalem and its decaying walls in the Fall. However, he did not implement a plan to help until that next Spring. It was all about timing. God's timing.

A couple of things to learn here.

His heart of compassion for the Jewish people.

He wept when he received the news.

How many times have we heard devastating news, and we just move on or turn the channel?

I am definitely guilty of this.

When did we become so calloused to suffering?

It seems all too normal to hear of horrible things, right?

But, Nehemiah, did not move on. He sat with it. He grieved over it. He prayed about it. He fasted.

This lasted for several months, Not days, not weeks, but months. 

When the time was right, he did not tell a soul. He waited and then left in the middle of the night on the journey to help Jerusalem rebuild its wall.

Nehemiah and the workers ended up finishing the wall in 52 days. 52!!

This was nothing short of a miracle.

They never stopped working. In fact, many were not happy about the rebuilding of the wall and tried to distract Nehemiah from his work.

His exact words, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Nehemiah 6:3

Wow, read that one more time.

I have an entirely new post for that one scripture.

I will save that for later.

What has God laid on your heart to do?

Have you prayed? Fasted? Waited?

Let us learn from Nehemiah.

Goodness, I love God's Word! Don't you?!!



waiting, fasting, praying,


jill


May 6, 2019

SHINE Spotlight.....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Questions? Email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com

Hey, SHINE friends! As we enter into our 5th month of reading through the Bible together, I want to encourage you to stick with it. 

Maybe you aren't currently reading through the plan with us, but you are looking for a reading plan? 

We would LOVE for you to jump on with us! 

You can purchase the Daily Walk Bible on Amazon or at a Christian bookstore. OR, you can print out the plan here. It is so so so good. 

Each day has a reading and a devotional to go with it. 

Here is a little clip of one of our SHINE friends that is currently reading through the Bible with us. 

Be encouraged by Erin Davis! She and I talk almost weekly about what we are reading and how it is literally changing us!

If you are currently following the plan with us, I would LOVE to feature you as well. Email me and let me know!



Going Dark.....

SHINE Bible reading Plan: Go  here. Want to receive SHINE devotionals i n your inbox? Go  here.    Have a prayer request, question or comm...