Nov 12, 2019

When you need HELP....

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As my husband and I raise teenagers, our constant prayer plea is this, "Lord, please give us WISDOM."

God's Word tells us that true wisdom only comes from God.

All wisdom comes from the Lordand so do common sense and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

We can search wordly books, talk shows and podcasts for wisdom in parenting, but true wisdom will only be found in God's Word.

Situations arise daily that I find myself asking again....Lord, I need wisdom here. I do not know what to do. What is the right thing? What honors You? 

If you have children of any age, you probably are asking the same questions.

Here are some things that Lem and I have done over the years. I hope it encourages you as you journey through the trenches of parenthood. Let me say, we are still majorly in the trenches. So, we are not experts by any means. Clearly.


[IT IS SO HARD TO BE A PARENT. Can I get an amen?]


1) Admit that you do not have all the answers. (Proverbs 3:5)

2) Admit your weaknesses to the Lord in this area. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

3) Seek God's Word. DAILY. (Matthew 7:7)

4) Seek God in prayer. CONSTANTLY.(1 Thessalonians 5:16)

5) Listen for His answer. (Proverbs 2:1)

6) Be still. Try not to jump on a bandwagon because other parents are doing it. Wait and hear from the Lord first. Just because it may be okay for their child to do something, does not mean it is okay for your child. Be still. (Psalm 46:10)

7) Seek out wise parents that have walked the path you are on. (Proverbs 15:22)

8) Ask for a heart of humility. Pride can eat us up if we are not careful. NOTHING is worse than the fall from pride. (trust me on this one!) (Proverbs 16:18)

9) Do life with fellow believers. Create community with those around you. You will learn so much just from doing life with others. (Psalm 133:1)

10) Walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. Ooh. This one is the hardest. (trust me again.) Often, what our children learn is "caught", and not "taught". This will take every ounce of the ones listed above to help you. You will still fail at times, and you will get right back up and keep persevering. (humility, remember?)  (1 John 2:6)


Lem and I are still working on all of these things. Every day brings new challenges it seems. Sometimes every moment! (my blonde is quickly turning gray)

However, we have a Helper. We have a Counselor. We have a Teacher.

His name is Jesus.

We are not alone on this journey. He called us to this mission....perhaps the holiest and hardest mission of all.

He has equipped us to do the work.

He will finish it to completion.


gray hair and all,


jill






Nov 11, 2019

Arise, Shine.....

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"Let your light shine before others." Matthew 5:16

As I was walking my dog, I found myself praying. Asking God again and again, "what is my purpose in this season, Lord?"

Recalling the long lengthy voice message to my prayer circle sisters earlier in the day, tears welled in my eyes. I had asked them for the one millionth time to pray that God would show me my purpose.

Have you been in this place?

Maybe life has always been crazy and dizzying and now you find yourself in a quiet home.

Or maybe your life has always been organized and happily predictable and now you find yourself in the spin cycle with kids, husband, dogs, work, and laundry.

I have now been on both sides.

And BOTH sides I found myself asking the same pondering question..."What is my purpose?"

I hesitated to write today because it seems the theme is the same. The season remains and it just seems it is getting old with the same song and dance as I write.

But, I also know that I am not alone. There are many of you that feel the same way.

The enemy would love for us to stop talking about it. To just shut up and keep it all inside. Buried deep in the dark.

The enemy loves the dark.

Jesus brings the Light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

The enemy desires to extinguish us. And not just physically. 

He wants to suck every ounce of purpose and desire and community and joy right out of our lungs. 

He wants us to live in complete darkness. Hiding our gifts. Hiding ourselves.

The biggest affront to the enemy is to shine in the darkness.

I know first hand how easy it is to melt in the dark.

To lose hope and joy and faith all in one fail swoop. Or diagnosis. Or loss. Or divorce. Or disappointment.

I have had to FIGHT myself out of those thoughts. And yes, I do mean FIGHT.

Like a mad woman I would paste scriptures about Joy all around my house. I would say them out loud in my car and in the shower.

I thought so many times....I don't even know if  joy is possible....but I need it to be.

Earlier this year a friend gave me this scripture and I go back to it over and over.

Today, I want to share it with you.

It has been the LIGHT in the days that are dark.

It has been the HOPE when I have landed face first in hopelessness.

It has been the JOY when my heart was cold and lifeless.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you." Isaiah 60:1-2



Friend, are you looking for your purpose?

You are in good company. 

As I was asking God these things on my walk, I felt this compulsion to go home and write. 

So, here I am. 

Writing. 

What is it in this moment that the Lord is asking of you?

It is probably something simple. 

Take the step. 

Change the diaper. Fold the laundry. Sing a song. Write a song. Visit a neighbor. Cook the meal. Call the person. 

Purpose is wrapped up in the smallest of tasks. 

Lord, help us to remember this. 

"Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise His Holy Name." Psalm 97:11



finding purpose,



jill







Nov 6, 2019

Shut my mouth....

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How do I even begin? I am not even sure when it started.

It is so much easier to tell stories of my kids, or loved ones. The stories about what God is doing in my heart are harder to tell. They go deep into the crevices of my soul and often I have a hard time putting the experiences into words.

Alas, I will try.

A few months ago I felt the gentle pull of the Lord away from things that I enjoyed doing. Really good things.

I didn't understand it and even felt selfish for pulling away. I felt a lack of peace regarding things that I had so peacefully enjoyed before.

I questioned my heart. I questioned God's leading. Or was it God's leading?

At the time, I didn't know for sure. I just knew that I didn't feel the ease of peace.

It didn't make sense. I felt I had grown a lot in the past year and had much to share regarding experiences. I wanted to surround myself with people to be able to share what my heart was overflowing with.

But, the Lord asked me to stop. To be still. To be quiet.

Uh, what?

It was an odd thing. Aren't we supposed to live out loud our faith? Aren't we supposed to go out and make disciples?

I was confused. But, I knew that God was not the author of confusion, but of Peace. [1 Corinthians 14:33]

My mouth suddenly felt like it was taped shut. I felt the pull to be quiet, and to pray. And pray. And pray.

My fingers didn't even feel the pull to write. I had no idea what was happening in my heart, so I had nothing to write about. I had plenty of stories to tell, but my heart was drawn like a magnet to quietness and prayer.

I began to discipline myself in prayer. Prayer does not come easy. It just doesn't. It often feels pointless if I am being honest.

We are more prone to "do", and  to "talk" it out.

Or, at least I am.

I would discipline myself in prayer by making it a practice to pray over every single person I came into contact each day. EVERY one.

This led little time for me to talk about myself, or to talk about anything really.

It also led to a lot of listening.

Listening to my children more.

Listening to my husband more.

Listening to the lady that rings up my groceries every Monday morning.

We learn a lot by listening. A whole lot.

I can pray as I listen. It's much easier to do this than pray as I talk.

I thought so much about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, how the Bible said, "she pondered all these things in her heart."[Luke 2:19]

As I listened more intently to the spoken and the unspoken cues of people, I began to feel the deep pull for them to feel the warmth of Jesus. Without me saying a word.

This is hard for a wordy girl.

I mean, how would they know I was praying for them unless I told them? How would they know about all the great things Jesus was doing if I didn't tell them?

Oh, I shudder as I type.

It was all about me. Me, me, me, me.

Did I not think that God could speak to them apart from me?

I liked the feeling of leading someone to Christ. To pointing the way and being the "one" with scripture at the perfect time.

Oh, y'all...

God was [and is] working on my heart.

I began to see the working of God all around me as I sat back, listened more, talked less, and prayed more.

Recently, the most incredible thing happened.

I had been praying for a young mother that I see each week. Every day I would see her, I felt the urge to pray for her. I felt she had lost her way somehow and needed Jesus.  This lasted for several weeks.

Last week, she approached my friend and me. She asked my friend about what church she attended. My friend proceeded to tell her, and then an entire conversation pursued, between the two of them, about faith.

I sat there dumbfounded. And, like a third wheel.

I wanted to jump in so badly and say, "Hey!! Let ME talk to to you! Come and visit MY church! I have what you need! I have been praying for you!!"

So embarrassing to admit my true thoughts.

They continued in conversation, and I quietly walked away.

"God, what are you doing? I have been praying for her! Why did you use my friend to talk to her and not me?"

Slowly, my vision became focused. I saw so clear what God was doing in my heart.

Did it matter who led her to Christ? Did it matter which church she attended?

What mattered is that God heard my prayers, and He answered them.

And guess what? I got no credit. From anyone. NOT ONE PERSON.

But, God knew.

Was that not enough for me?

Oh, the pride. Oh, the stinking pride.

Are we willing to go behind closed doors, to be anonymous....and seek the face of God on behalf of those around us? Are we willing to step back and let God get the Glory?

Or, are we getting in His way. Is our pride keeping Him from answering our prayers.

Are our mouths bigger than our ears? Do we talk more than we listen?

Lord, change us.

Let us be willing to have hearts on fire with prayer, without one person knowing it.

There is a time to pray out loud, and a time to pray in secret.

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

How quickly we say YES when asked if we will pray about something for someone. And, just as quickly we forget.

Are we so busy portraying our wisdom and Christianity that we forget what is needed most?

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

So often, in church and in the world, we are urged to be vocal. To let our intentions and our desires be known. To speak!

Could it be that our loud words are getting in the way of the gentle whispers of God?

In all of our efforts to be great missionaries, are our mouths drowning out our prayers and hushing the Holy Spirit?

Oh, Lord, change us.

Is it possible to lead obscure, quiet, prayerful lives?

Jesus sure did.

He made no commotion about Himself. He often was drawn to quiet places. Seeking the face of God. Often when everyone else was sleeping.

Lord, help us to be like Jesus.

Hearts bent on You and not ourselves.

Help us to be okay with not being in the spotlight. To live obscure lives. In Your Mighty Shadow.


shutting my mouth and opening my ears,


jill


(re-post from 11/9/17)








Oct 29, 2019

Quiet.....

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"make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

This verse comes to mind often these days. 

Leading a quiet life gets more difficult by the day. 

You would think with one child off at college, and only one child left in the home, life would be quieter. 

It really is not the case. 

Noise doesn't just mean voices and chaos. Noise can be white noise, just buzzing loud enough to steal away our peace and quiet.

Noise distracts us and pulls us away. We are so accustomed to noise, we don't know what to do in silence, or stillness. 

We get antsy. 

We pick up our phones, send another text, scroll another few minutes...and we are right back in the middle of noise. 

Connection is good, as long as our primary connection is God. 

What is our ambition?

Maybe we need to look at our calendars and see what fills it the most. 

Or, maybe we should take a look at our phones and see what catches our attention and draws us in and keeps us from having quiet-er soul. 

Relationships can get noisy too. 

We can over-do conversations and end up saying things we never meant to say. 

We spend too much time talking that we don't listen, pause, and take a breath. 

An older mentor once told me the best advice...

She said that we should not spend more than 10 minutes on the phone with others because it will lead to gossip and/or saying meaningless things. 

She told me this way before social media became a thing...

Her wise words still resonate.

The bible warns us not to become "busy bodies".

Yet we hear that some of you are leading undisciplined lives and accomplishing nothing but being busybodies. 2 Thessalonians 3:11

Busy bodies are constantly stirring up conversations, gossip disguised as prayer requests, and slander. 

If we are not careful, we lose our way, and our feet come right out from under us. 

I think that is why the first part of the above scripture in 1 Thessalonians is, "Make it your ambition". 

We can become ambitious about many things.

But are our ambitions in line with God's Word and leading a quiet-er life?

I for one, have been off track countless times. 

This verse never fails to draw me back in and reset my heart. 

We can have a quiet heart even in a choatic life. 

No matter how busy we are, it is still possible to have peace and quiet. 

I think of Jesus when the storm arose out in the middle of the ocean. 

He slept peacefully as the others were literally freaking out. 

His Heart was One with God and His connection was peace and quiet. 

Oh, I so want a life like this. Don't you?

How about we start today. 

Grab a notecard or sheet of paper. 

Let's write this down..

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life...."

Now, put it somewhere you will see it often. 

Mine will be in the car. :)


quieting down, 


jill



Oct 24, 2019

How will you answer?

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Our church has been teaching on the book of Jonah the past couple of weeks.

I find myself so intrigued by Jonah's life.

God called Jonah to preach to the people of Ninevah.

He refused, and he ran.

He hopped on a boat to escape the call of God. 

God sent a wild storm to get his attention. It did.

The crew threw Jonah off the boat because they were scared to death of "his God".

You know the story, he ends up in the belly of a fish, and the rest is history.

But, here is what strikes me the most...

Jonah ran.

He fled the call.

He chickened out.

He disputed the call that the Lord gave him.

Haven't we all been there?

God asks us to do something....

And we don't.

We make up excuses.

We tell God we aren't smart enough, or holy enough, or cute enough, or wise enough....

And we decline.

My daughter and I had a long talk about this recently.

I asked her about a time when God asked her to do something that was out of her comfort zone.

She told me of several times...

Yet, she said she decided to do it anyway.

She stepped up and trusted God.

I envied her child like faith.

I remembered back to my own youth and wondered if I had that same child like faith at her age....

Why is it so hard as adults to trust God's call for us?

Why do we question Him, and run from Him?

Why do we try to talk Him out of it?

Or, maybe you are like me and tell God someone else is much better suited for that job than you are.

Yikes.

Often through the years, I have prayed for God to open doors to use my gifts and talents for Him.

And just as often, when the door opened, I bailed.

I chickened out.

My insecurities aka PRIDE, talked me right out of it.

"What if I fail?"

"What if I stumble?"

Those thoughts plagued me and they often would prevail.

God had given us individual gifts to use to further His Kingdom.

Are we answering His call to use them?

Is our fear bigger than our faith in the One Who Created us?

Friends, let's learn from our friend Jonah!

What would happen if we trusted God and put our last penny on believing Him?

What if we gladly accepted the call and trusted the Lord to give us what we needed?

His power is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Say yes today.

When the door opens, murky as it may be...

Say yes to God.

Say yes to walking through that door.

You are the perfect fit. The chosen one for that particular calling. Designed by the Master Creator.

What an honor.


just go,


jill







Oct 23, 2019

Parent-hood....

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I think motherhood is the absolute hardest job on the planet.

As much as I love it, it is the most difficult daily task that has ever been given to me.

Hands down, the hardest part for me is walking the walk.

I can talk the talk all the live long day. I can give long winded stories, and teachings, and bible examples of how we are supposed to live....

But, the real impact happens when my children see me doing what I say.

Showing kindness. 

Having patience. 

Turning the other cheek. 

Being faithful with finances. 

Obeying authority. 

Submitting to my husband.

Speaking kindly to my husband/their father. 

Finding time to get in the Bible. 

Prayer time. 

Keeping my word. 

Being a loyal friend. 

Serving others. 


All of these things....I want my children to do and to become.

But, am I doing these things?

Are they seeing me live a life parallel to what I teach them?

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity...Titus 2:7

Momma's, if we don't live it out for them, our words are fruitless.

We don't have to perfect, because we will never be.

But, are we trying, like, really trying to live what we preach?

I have had to have eye to eye talks with my kids when I mess up.

I have cried to them and told them I was wrong, oh so wrong, when I have messed up.

When they see repentance in us, they will desire repentance when they mess up.

We let them know that although we really want to do the right thing in God's eyes, there will be times when we screw it up.

But, what do we do after our mess up?

Do we just shrug our shoulders and move on?

Or, do we fall face down in repentance before the Lord.

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart. Psalm 51:17

Pride can be our biggest downfall in parenting. 

We don't want to admit we are wrong. Or that our kids are wrong. 

We turn up our noses and pretend like we don't see what is really happening. 

When we don't acknowledge sin, either in our hearts, or the hearts of our kids, we make a grave error. 


Hardening of our hearts start to happen, and hardening of our children's hearts. 

We get numb and immune to sin. 

The cool thing to do as a parent these days is to look the other way. 

To not acknowledge when our child is walking in sin, or down a wrong path. 

We don't want to be "that parent". 

We don't want to embarrass our children. 

We don't want them to be shunned. 

For heaven's sake, what have we become?

Are we not parents anymore?

Are we not the ones who are supposed to teach, guide, lead, rebuke, and discipline our children?

When did we become so okay with letting our children stray?

Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death. Proverbs 23:13-14

We must pray for eyes to see. For hearts to discern. For strength to discipline our children when it is easier to just let it go.

We must use this time wisely. This time with our children under our roofs is fleeting.

There will always be distractions to pull us away from parenting our kids. We must pray for wisdom and alertness.

When it is easier to just scroll our phones or leave the child at home because we need to get away....

We must remember that this time is sacred. These moments are treasures...for such a time as this.

15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15

Surround yourself with other mothers who desire this same thing. Iron really does sharpen iron.[proverbs 27:17]

Hold each other accountable, support and encourage each other. We need it, all of us do!

Find a group of girlfriends who will pray with you over your family. A group of friends that you can be honest with about your kids, and who will sincerely pray with you for them.

These friends are PRICELESS.

I have a handful of friends that will pray for my family, my husband, and my children. They will encourage me, and they offer wisdom when the path is murky and unclear.

These women are gifts from the Lord. They know all the good, bad, and ugly, and they pray.

Motherhood can be a lonely path. Find good, solid, trustworthy, friends to walk it with you. Pray for God to send them to you. He will!


Keep persevering, friend. There is so much fruit to behold. Keep planting those seeds. Keep praying. Keep immersing yourself in scripture. God will do the rest.


marching on,

jill



Oct 22, 2019

Are you persistent?

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We have landed in the book of Luke in our bible reading. If you have been with us since January, we are almost finished with the bible!!!! Can you believe it?

If you have not followed along with us, or have fallen out of practice with your reading, it is okay!

I encourage you though, wherever you are, try to find some time today and this week to open God's Word. Just a few minutes a day is a good start.

You will be forever changed.

Today, I came to a passage of scripture and I found myself re-reading it.

The passage is found in Luke Chapter 18, The persistent widow.

The widow persistently goes to the judge's house and asks him for justice on behalf of a suit against her enemy.

Day after day she persists.

The judge, who is not even a godly man, finally gives in.

Why does Jesus tell us this story?

I believe it is because He knows how quickly we give up.

We shrug our shoulders and move on, instead of continuing to ask the Lord for specific requests.

We lose faith because we do not see an immediate response.

Our faith fades, and so does our answer to prayer.

We often just give up too easily.

We can be persistent about many things in life, but when it comes to prayer, we tend to lack the passion and persistence.

What if we began to be like this persistent widow?

Showing up every single day at the door of the Lord and presenting our requests to Him?

Not just when we felt like it, but every single day just like this widow.

Here is why this story is powerful...

It shows so much faith in the heart of the widow.

She is not giving up.

She knows an answer will come, but she must keep requesting.

It is almost child like, right?

Yes.

And, that is the point.

A faith so big, it reminds us of a child.

 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Friends, when did we stop asking God?

When did we stop knocking daily at His door?

Why did we give up so quickly on our request?

Let this passage of scripture, spoken by the lips of Jesus encourage us today!

Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

persisting in prayer, 

jill

When you need HELP....

SHINE Reading Plan:  Go here.  Subscribe to SHINE emails:  Go here. As my husband and I raise teenagers, our constant prayer plea is thi...