Jul 21, 2021

Keep going...

Whoever pursues righteousness and love

    finds life, prosperity and honor. Proverbs 21:21



 For the past couple of weeks, I have had zero motivation to read my Bible. ZERO. 

Maybe because we had been out of town, maybe because I had been sick...I am not sure. 

It was frustrating. I felt spiritually dry. As dry as that Las Vegas heat. 

Every morning, I would sit in my bed and prop up on pillows. I had my Bible on my night stand right next to me. 

I would stare at my Bible for a few minutes, not feeling an ounce of desire to dive into it. 

Here is the thing...

I did it anyway. 

I picked it up. I opened up. I went to the daily reading plan. 

THIS is when it is good to have a daily plan to read. It helps us to stay motivated and on track. It would be easy to say, "I don't really know where to start or what to read, so I think I will skip."

Every day, there is something to read when you are on a reading plan. At times like these...it is NECESSARY. Trust me. 

Day by day, I just opened God's Word and read. I honestly still did not feel motivated, but I still did it. 

I grabbed my prayer journal and would write down scriptures that stood out to me. I would write them slow and pray that God would let them resonate on my heart. I desperately needed some faith action.

Little by little, that desire returned. It took some time though. 

There are many seasons we will find ourselves in that are dry. Like, really dry. 

Do it anyway. 

Pick up your Bible and read. 

Read when you don't want to read. 

Pray when you don't want to pray. 

Love when you don't want to love. 

Do the opposite of what you "feel" like doing. 

Motivation will wane...I promise you....but do the next thing anyway. 

Put your bible on your nightstand so that you have no choice but to see it each day. 

Make yourself pick it up...

Make yourself read...

God will fill you with His Words. He will nourish your soul. 

Day by day, that desire will begin to slowly arise. 

It may take some time. 

Be patient. 

Keep reading. 

Keep praying. 

For many years I thought when these seasons came that something was really wrong with me. I thought I had lost my passion and my faith...

Now, I see that it is just a season. A season to keep planting, even when you feel like there is nothing else left. Keep going. 

This is all part of the journey. 

Be bold enough to ask God for motivation as well. Ask Him to give you the desire to read, to pray, to keep going. 

I have had to pray that prayer many times. 

He always, always, answers. 

Keep going, friend. 

You will be so glad you did. 


marching on, 


jill

Jul 19, 2021

Lonely Hearts Club...

 

 God places the lonely in familieshe sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. Psalm 68:6



Well, it finally happened. 16 months into the Pandemic, my husband and I both got Covid. At the exact same time. Yay. 

Our family had just returned from a two week vacation that began in Orlando and ended in Las Vegas. 

Presley, our daughter, had two big national volleyball tournaments in both of those locations, so we made it into a family vacation. 

The day after returning, I felt off. Like, way off. 

I shrugged it off to jet lag and just being worn out from travel. 

Three days later, I ran a fever and felt extremely tired. Still, I thought it must be a little bug or virus from the airplane. 

It wasn't until the 4th day when I lost my taste AND my smell....that I knew. 

UGH. 

Covid. 

Had to be. 

After a rapid test at our local urgent care confirmed positive for both my husband and myself, the hunkering down count down was on. 

Let me tell you...this was the hardest part for us. 

No leaving the house. No social contact with anyone besides each other. No hugs. No kisses from the kids. 

It was hard. 

Every single day I would sit on our back porch and just watch birds flitter and flutter. 

My life had gone from a whirlwind of crazy madness to complete and utter stillness. 

Here is the irony...

I remember just a few weeks before sitting on my back porch wishing I could linger a little longer. Life was FULL, and we were constantly in the car. I remember thinking what it would be like to have a quieter life...less noise, less activity. 

Wow. God really showed me!

Those 10 days of quarantine were very hard. 

I was lonely. Even though my husband was with me the entire time, it was still lonely. 

Many times I thought about people I knew that were widowed and alone. I thought about how lonely they must be on a daily basis. 

I thought about those in nursing homes with no one to visit them. 

I thought about orphans waiting to be put in a family. 

As my husband and I were out walking one day during our isolation, I told him that loneliness is cruel. 

I told him that loneliness had to be the hardest thing to endure. We were getting just a small glimpse of it. 

The Lord used this time to speak volumes to me about reaching out to others. Next door, on both sides, reside widows. 

Have I checked on them enough? Have I sat with them and talked to them lately? 

It had been a while. 

I felt ashamed. 

My busy life had left not much time to check on others. 

This stillness had opened my eyes. 

How about you?

Have you ever felt lonely? If even for a season?

Do you have someone in your life that may be lonely?

I hope and pray it doesn't take an illness again for me to see clearly again. 

Sometimes our world has to come to a halt in order for us to get perspective. 

In the days and weeks to come, I want to be more intentional about checking on others. I want to actively pursue those who may be lonely. 

In just 10 days, I saw a great need. A need to reach out to others. To seek out the lonely. To pursue them and check on them. 

Now that we are back in the land of the living, I hope to be different. To use what I have learned for good. To be better. To be more intentional. 

And maybe, to sit still a little more watching those birds. 


Elisabeth Elliot wrote in the book that never leaves my nightstand, “St. Augustine said, "The very pleasures of human life men acquire by difficulties." There are times when the entire arrangement of our existence is disrupted and we long then for just one ordinary day - seeing our ordinary life as greatly desirable, even wonderful, in the light of the terrible disruption that has taken place. Difficulty opens our eyes to pleasures we had taken for granted.” 


back to the ordinary, 


jill






Jun 23, 2021

Write it down...

 





Rise and Shine sweet friends!

If you are following along in our Daily Walk Bible, I hope you are soaking in the goodness of Psalms each morning!!

Ahh! I keep my pen and journal close by and write down some of these life nourishing Psalms. I need them etched on my heart forever. 

The book of Psalm resonates with every heart. The longing, the lamenting, the anger, the bitterness...

Intermingled with much praise, worship, repentance, laughter, and joy....

Sounds like a day in our everyday life, doesn't it?

Oh, the emotions!! 

Through these heart soothing Psalms, we are reminded to praise. Not just praise when we are happy, but to praise when things are not good. To praise when we feel the opposite of praising. To praise when we have been wronged and hurt and misunderstood. 

But I will give repeated thanks to The Lord, praising Him to everyone for He stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them. Psalm 109:30-31

Let them praise The Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them. Psalm 107:21

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 97:11-12

These are just a few of the many I have scribbled down in my prayer journal. I need to be reminded daily, if not minute by minute, to stop what I am doing and PRAISE Him. 

We are often wired to worry, to be anxious, to over think situations, to focus on the negative, to take things out of context....

Jesus wants to re-wire us through Praise

I can tell you with 100 million percent certainty that a heart that praises is a heart full of JOY. 

Years ago, I began writing down blessings in a little notebook. I was in my early thirties and my life just seemed like one big stressful pile-up. 

I had gotten the idea from a book by Ann Voskamp called 1000 gifts. 

My children were smaller and the many chaotic details of my days were overwhelming. 

I began to write down everything I saw that was a gift from God....the smallest of things. 

coffee in the morning.

wildflowers in my yard.

red birds.

children playing outside. 

morning sunlight through my kitchen window. 

messy floors. (yes, even this!)

Slowly, day by day, I felt this new Peace washing over me. A contentment and a joy that I had not felt in a while. 

When my heart was focused on praise, my life changed. My attitude changed. My words changed. 

Gentleness replaced harshness. 

Joy replaced discontentment. 

Mercy replaced unforgiveness. 

Humility replaced pride. 

I felt as if God had given me this secret....this secret of Praise. 

Suddenly, I realized I had unlocked the greatest treasure box of all time. 

The good news is, it is available at all times!

We just have to re-wire and re-train our brains to remember

I am a big fan of writing things down. If I do not write it down, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. 

So, I encourage you, I challenge you...

Begin writing down Psalms you are reading. 

Date them. 

Read them. 

Re-read them. 

Keep a journal of your blessings. 

Carry it around with you. 

Your heart will began to soften. Your countenance will change. People will notice. 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us...Psalm 67:1

If you have fallen off the wagon of reading your Bible, I encourage you to pick it back up. 

Find some time in the early morning if you can....or whenever you can squeeze in a few minutes. 

We need His Word like we need air in our lungs. 

"He sent out His Word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death." Psalm 107:20

Would you mind sharing a Psalm that you love with me? I would love to know the words God is using to nourish your heart. You can email me at shinegirlsshine@email.com or text/call me to share!

Today, I am heading out to buy a new notebook. I want to fill it up with the many gifts that surround me each day. Will you join me? 

Let's praise God and count our many blessings together, shall we?


counting blessings one by one, 


jill






Jun 18, 2021

Rise and Shine...

 SHINE Girls began in January of 2012. It seems like so long ago. 

My children were much smaller. Life was different. 

Many of you know how it all began, and if you do not, scroll through some early posts and you will see just how God brought it all together. 

I was (and still am) just a busy and overwhelmed mother who desperately needed Peace and Truth. 

At the time, I was severely struggling with anxiety and questions about my purpose in this life. 

Gently, and sweetly, God whispered for me to come. To open the pages of His Word. To listen to His instructions instead of the worlds. 

I would wake up at 4:15 am to sit with Him. It was the only time of the day that I could be fully present with Him. It was hard some mornings, but I knew I needed Him and it was worth being tired. 

In 2012, social media was sort of on the newer side. So, SHINE Girls was much like a small social site for women to talk, pray, and share their stories. 

Blogs were very popular at that time, but now the tide has changed. 

Most women use social media (Facebook, Instagram) as a way to communicate and ask for prayer. 

Slowly, this blog has evolved to more of a devotional. Telling stories, sharing encouragement, learning God's Word together. 

For several years now, I have felt The Lord moving in a different direction. Through much prayer, and much help from a wonderful web designer, the change is starting to take place. 

Small changes, but changes that represent where we are now. A new chapter, a new beginning, so to speak. 

I will share with you more very soon, but as of now, I just wanted you to be the first to know! 

You will still receive my emails if you subscribe. 

The emails will be a little different, as far as format, but nothing major. 

Now, I will let you in on the biggest secret of all....I have only told my family! 

This is something I have prayed about and searched God's Word for...and He answered in a big way. 

SHINE Girls  will now be called Rise and Shine. 

There are several reasons God led me to this name, and I will share some of those in the days to come. 

For now, I just wanted to let my sweet friends in on the exciting change! 

Our site will be updated, renovated, and much more user friendly. Eek!!

If you are receiving emails, nothing will change for you. 

We will have a new, our very own, web address which I will share with you as soon as it is completed. 

The new site will be here for those that want to know more about Rise and Shine and to see past posts and stories. All of the content from SHINE Girls will be on our new site! 

Not long ago, when the decision was made to change the name, I asked the Lord to affirm this. I prayed and prayed. 

I felt peace it was the right decision, but I just needed a little something from The Lord. A little wink or nod that this was the right direction. 

The same afternoon that I confirmed the new name to the web designer, I saw this as I was checking out at TJ Maxx. 

Not only was it our new name, but the inside of the mug is YELLOW. My favorite color ever!!



**For the record, I really liked the mug to the right of this one as well... Hot Mess Express. A very accurate description of life these days. **

I would love to know your thoughts! This current blogger site is very spammy, but I welcome your emails and texts! Our new site will be much easier to navigate and leave comments. Yay!

I am so excited to Rise and Shine with you in the days and years to come! 

YOU are the reason I still write. Your encouragement, your support, your faithfulness. 

I am so grateful for all of YOU!


rising and shining together, 


jill






Jun 16, 2021

Grocery Stores, Grapes, and My Big Fat Mouth...

 You can always bet that when I write a post on mouth follies, I will surely fall into sin with my mouth shortly after. IT NEVER FAILS. 

It's kind of the same concept when I am trying to teach my children something, when secretly, I am the one that needed the lesson the MOST. 

Well, sure enough, I wrote a post on June 4th about the words of our mouth being the meditations of the heart...and just a few days later I fall flat on my face with this sin. 

I was having a bad day. Just moody. Grumpy. Short tempered. 

We were in the grocery store and the build up was happening. I was ready to get home. 

My daughter and I were arguing about something, I honestly do not even remember. 

A few seconds later the words came out of my mouth. As soon as they did, I wanted to melt on the floor and die. 

Her eyes welled up with tears...right in the middle of Ingles. Yay. 

I started sweating profusely, almost as if sin was just pouring out of my body through my sweat glands. Yay. 

I immediately grabbed her and hugged her and told her I was so very sorry for being so short tempered. 

We were both crying now. 

We rounded the corner of the aisle, and of course we run into someone we know. Eyes swollen with tears and faces glistening with rolling sweat, I tried to smile at my friend but knew I looked pathetic. 

We went to check out our groceries and we picked up the grapes from the buggy and they flew all over the floor. EVERYWHERE. 

The lady in front of us, surrounded by grapes at her feet,  gave us a memorable look, complete with an eye roll. 

Lord, please just get me home. 

This day could not get any worse. 

We finally made it to the car and I was apologizing profusely to my daughter for being such a horrible momma. 

She cried, I cried, we all cried. 

I felt like those smooshed up grapes all over that grocery store floor. 

I was a mess. 

When my head hit the pillow that night, I tossed and turned. I was so convicted by my behavior. 

I eventually crawled in bed with my daughter because I needed her to know how sorry I was. 

I prayed the whole entire night. Begging God to forgive me, and for my daughter to have no memory of what a horrible momma she had. 

Images of her sitting on a therapist's couch when she is in her mid twenties crying about her mean momma haunted me all night long. 

I could not forgive myself. 

I knew God had forgiven me, but I was having a hard time feeling deserving of grace and mercy. 

The next morning, after not sleeping a wink, I grabbed my coffee and hit the couch with my Bible. 

I needed God desperately. 

I laid the Bible on my heart and just begged God to speak. To heal my heart. To heal any wounds I had caused with my big stupid mouth. 

He led me straight to the book of Psalms and watered my weary soul...

This was the passage...

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart..

Psalm 73:21-26

I read those words over and over again, letting them seal into my bones. 

I was forgiven. I was free from guilt and shame. 

Yet, I was having a hard time believing that I deserved forgiveness. 

Shame wanted to steal my joy. My peace.

I was walking with a limp feeling like a terrible mother. 

God was reminding me that nothing had changed. I still belonged to Him. 

Why is is so hard to move on from our sin?

I realized that morning that maybe the hardest part of all with sin is our own forgiveness and willingness to move on. 

We often want to sit and sulk in it and let the pain bury us into a muddy pit of self-loathing and shame. 

The enemy would have loved for me to stay in that place. To bury myself in the loathing and the guilt. 

God was taking me by the hand, the hand that He never let go of...and walking me right into forgiveness and grace. 

His mercy takes my breath away. I do not deserve it. None of us do. 

But, His Mercy isn't conditional. It is limitless and unconditional. 

Friend, if you have found yourself in a place that feels like quick sand because of sin...

I understand. 

But, God has forgiven you. He has redeemed every part of the situation and He desires to free you from the chains of shame. 

The experience in the grocery store that day humbled me to a whole new level. It once again reminded me of my desperate need for Jesus. I am utterly lost without Him. 

The same day my mouth exploded I had written down this quote in my prayer journal..

"God permits injustice. He allows things and events to happen in our lives that prune us and shape us." Elisabeth Elliot

I had also written..

"In acceptance lies peace". 

So, even though my mouth sinned, God will use it to prune me and shape me. 

I have to accept that I sinned and that I am not perfect and that I need Jesus more than I need air. 

In acceptance lies peace. 

These experiences actually can grow us into better disciples if we let them. We begin to have more compassion and humility. We see clearly the depths of our own sinful tendencies and we begin to be more merciful towards others. 

Whew. My eyes are certainly clear. 

My daughter wrote me a note the night of this incident...I cried my eyes out when I read it because I did not deserve her words. 

I realized in that moment...her words were a reflection of Christ. His love overwhelms. 

"Momma, thank you for everything you do for me, even if I don't always act like it, I am so thankful for you and our friendship. You are the best mom ever, I hope to be like you and have a heart like you some day! Thank you for being my BFF! I love every minute with you!"

Her words were so opposite of how I felt about my mothering. Yet, Jesus in His Great Mercy, redeems the broken and brings much beauty from ashes. 

He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:12


swimming in a sea of grapes and forgiveness, 


jill



Jun 4, 2021

Oh that mouth....

 Good morning and happy Friday! 

My daughter and I leave for the beach today and let me tell you...it could not come a moment too soon. 

These past few months have been a stirring of crazy activity. We are exhausted. Mentally and physically. 

I am so happy to have landed in the book of Psalm for our reading plan. I need it. Desperately. 

As soon as my eyes flutter open each morning, I cannot wait to hit start on the coffee pot and sit with my Bible open inhaling God's Truth. 

It is the only reason I can breathe. 

This morning, a verse captured my attention. It is a verse I have memorized and pondered on through the years, but this morning, it spoke deep into my heart. I needed the reminder, and I needed it badly. 

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Just a gentle reminder....just because our mouths do not utter what our hearts are meditating on does not mean we are not sinning. 

Often, I have prided myself on being able to keep my mouth shut when situations arise that infuriate me. Well, friends, this is only half the battle. 

We have a heart issue as well. Our heart is what God is most concerned about. 

When my children would get in trouble when they were smaller, I would tell them that the problem was a "heart issue". I told them that sometimes we grow weeds in our heart and we need to constantly be pulling up those weeds. 

Eventually, those weeds come out of our mouths into words and often actions. Which lead to big consequences. 

Yikes. 

Let me give you an example..

This past weekend we were at a volleyball tournament with my daughter. Our referee made several back to back bad calls. 

It was frustrating to say the least because we were in the semi-final game and the point spread was close. 

Parents are yelling from the side lines, some of the players were even yelling at the ref. 

In my heart, I was yelling at the ref as well, but I composed myself and kept my mouth shut. 

However, in my heart, I was just as guilty as the ones yelling and screaming. 

The thoughts going through my heart and mind were far from pure. 

I took a deep breath and I prayed for the ref. 

I knew the only way to combat this anger and frustration was to replace those feelings with prayer. 

Prayer creates humility. 

Pride is the opposite of humility. 

On the sidelines as a parent, pride can destroy us. 

It takes root deep in the heart and before we know it we do not recognize who we are anymore. Pride is the enemy's best tool to separate us from humility and from fellowship with others. 

Pride is not always visible to others...but it is visible to God. 

He sees the heart. 

The only way to combat pride is to have a heart change. 

Meditating on scripture, meditating on prayer, meditating on gratitude...

These are the cures for pride. 

A runaway mouth comes from a runaway heart. 

A heart departed from God's Word will surely lead to a mouth out of control. 

Ask me how I know...

Friends, I honestly do not believe that this is a one and done solution. This is an ongoing work of pulling weeds. Day after day. Sometimes minute after minute. 

Those weeds will suffocate and spoil the softest of hearts. 

We must put our gardening gloves on...and pull up those weeds by the root. 

We must saturate ourselves in God's Word. Over and over. 

Let's begin today shall we? 

Inhale His Truth today. Breathe it in deep. Our words will be sweeter, kinder. Our hearts will reflect Christ, and our words will sweeten instead of spoil. 


pulling up weeds, 


jill



May 27, 2021

Walking on Sunshine...

This past month has been a doozie. See previous posts, if you want to know all of the crazy things that have happened to our little family in this month alone. 

Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the many blessings God surrounds us with daily, but goodness gracious....it has been a whirlwind of crazy occurrences this past month!

This week was not much different. 

My precious mother-in-love came to our little town on Tuesday and spent the day with my daughter, Presley. 

They went shopping, ate lunch, and then made about 50 cookies for Presley's high school volleyball fundraiser. 

I was so thankful for this cookie making gesture because I had to work that day, so it was ONE thing less on my plate to do!

As I pulled in the driveway from work, I had a funny feeling in my tummy. Sometimes, God prepares us. I believe that with all my heart. 

I walked in the door, no one was home. 

My dog was laying prostrate on the floor with a very naughty look in his eyes. 

You know where this is going....

I looked around frantically for the cookies...

On a whim, I decided to check the laundry room. Maybe my daughter had stored them in there to keep away from our dog, Bo, who will eat anything in sight...including our underwear!

I slowly, with a deep inhale, opened the laundry room door. 

Crumbs of chocolate chip cookies were all over the floor. 

5 cookies remained. FIVE. 

Bo had eaten 45 cookies. FORTY FIVE. 

The cookies were due to be turned in early the next morning. I was exhausted and drained. 

And, I still had to take my daughter to a 2 hour practice that night. 

"Lord, Why?!!"

When my husband walked through the door, I dreaded telling him. I was going to wait until after her practice to give him time to mellow out from a long day at work. 

However, he knew immediately when he walked through the door that Bo had gotten into something. Our doggie had guilt all over his hairy little cookie-crumb-filled face. 

Lem threw his hands in the air and just said, "Can we PLEASE catch a break?!"

I finally just busted out laughing. I knew that in the big scheme of things, this was not a big deal. Lem wasn't quite to that point yet. He looked at me like I had lost my mind and just walked out the door. 

Oops. Too soon to laugh, I guess. 

The next morning, I drove to my hair appointment. Thank you, Lord, for hair appointment days. 

I was just so ready to sit in that big black comfy chair and not have to face cookie eating dogs, and exploding hot water heaters, and a car that has been totaled by a deer, and a leaky ceiling in our bathroom. 

I just wanted to melt in my hair dresser's chair for the rest of the afternoon. 

It was a nice break from the reality of life. I love the sweet girls that work at the salon. It felt good to escape for a bit. 

Finally, it was time to leave. 

I took my purse, feeling fresh and new, to the checkout counter. 

Allison, my hair girl, was ready to check me out. 

I grabbed for my debit card, waiting for the final number to pay. Long inhale...deep exhale..

She looked at me sweetly and said almost in a whisper, "Jill, you're mother in law, Jane, paid for your hair services today."

I gasped, and asked her to please repeat what she just said..

She smiled and said, "Your mother in law paid for your hair. You don't owe anything. "

Immediately, my eyes filled with tears. Allison's eyes did as well! The two sweet girls that assist Allison were standing there and they were just smiling from ear to ear. 

I hugged all 3 of them and told them how blown away I was! They were blown away too. 

I could not stop crying. 

Finally, I walked out and got in my car. I could not believe someone could be that generous and thoughtful. Especially, when I needed it the most. 

It was so timely. And so special. And so unexpected. 

After calling my mother in law and profusely thanking her, I called my dear friend, Erin. 

Erin and I had just been talking that morning on the way to the salon, so I could not wait to tell her what my mother in law had just done. 

I will never forget what Erin said.

"God knows what we need. He's so intimate with us."

When someone blesses you so sweetly, it inspires and encourages you to bless others. 

I asked God the whole way home how I could pour out a blessing on someone else just like my mother in law had poured out to me that day. 

When we bless others, it creates a domino of blessings around us. 

My challenge for you and for me today: BLESS SOMEONE TODAY. 

It doesn't have to be an extravagant gesture. Sometimes the smallest things are the most needed. 

Pray and ask God to lead you. HE WILL. 

He knows what others need...even if it seems silly or small to us, sometimes it is exactly what that person needs in the moment. 


A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25





still walking on sunshine over here, 

jill




Keep going...

Whoever pursues righteousness and love      finds life, prosperity and honor. Proverbs 21:21  For the past couple of weeks, I have had zero...