Nov 30, 2012

Friday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: John 17

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls! Did you memorize your Monday Memory Verse? I hope so! If not, work on it this weekend. We will have a new one Monday...get ready! :)

So, I keep hearing this song on the radio. EVERY time I get in my car it comes on. It brings me to tears each time I hear it. In my heart and head I see the visual of the words. The song is "Give this Christmas Away" by Matthew West. If you haven't heard it...Google it. Now.

I have seen first hand the poor, the hungry, the needy, the hopeless, the destitute this past year. This has opened my eyes to a whole new world of what Christ's love is about. I feel like I have aged 10 years this past year. Not physically, or at least I hope not, but spiritually.

Something inside of my heart has changed. It can only be credited to Jesus working inside of it. He has been chiseling away at the hardened pieces that encase it. It will take a life time to chisel it all the way, but oh my goodness, what a difference a chisel makes! :)

As I read each and every SHINE serving story, and talk to many of you, I am seeing the Holy Spirit working EVERYWHERE. Not just in my town, or my kids schools, but in many towns, in many schools. In many work places, in many homes, and most of all in many hearts!

The stirring of the Holy Spirit is rampant, girls. It is!

I love growing with you. I love being chiseled away by the Lord's Holy handy-man tools! Don't you?

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Pray about how you can be the hands of feet of Jesus to someone. Not just today but this whole month.

Pray about how YOU can give this Christmas away.

This is not about giving away money, but giving away love. Giving away your time. Giving away your heart to something way bigger than you. Giving away your prayers for a certain family or person.

Give something away, girls.

Want so see a radical heart chiseling? Give this Christmas away.

Yours will look different than mine. God calls us all to different areas to serve and to give.

Pray about where yours is. Get ready though, because He will show you. Oh yes, He will!

As I was loading up my car with YOUR SHINE mission project donations, I heard the song.  As I was leaving the shelter where I dropped off the laundry detergent that YOU donated, I heard this song. As I was driving down the road praying for a new friend that needs a helping hand, I heard this song.


No coincidence, girls. He is calling us to this.  Big time.

let's do this,


What if I told you?

You have the power
To give someone hope
Far beyond their wildest dreams

What if I told you it's right there in your hands?
In your hands

It's hard to imagine
How something so small
Can make all the difference
Tear down the tallest wall

What if December looked different this year?
What if we all just

Give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart
Don't let it stay there
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed
By the gift you receive
When you give this Christmas away

It's feeding the hungry
It's serving the poor
It's telling the orphan
You're not forgotten anymore

It's doing what love does
Even when no one's watching you

Give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart
Don't let it stay there
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed
By the gift you receive
When you give this Christmas away

For God so loved the world, He gave His only son
So we could be His hands, His feet, His love
His love

Nov 29, 2012

Thursday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 16

Happy Serve Day Thursday, SHINE girls! Remember, Thursdays are the days that we intentionally serve someone. It can be anything! A cup of coffee, a sweet encouraging word, a helping hand...anything. Just be intentional today with an act of service toward someone in your path. You will be blessed and so will they!

Let me just say how PROUD I am of all of you! I have been receiving emails, phone calls and texts by many of you saying that you have the Memory Verse memorized! Yay for you! You make me smile so BIG!

See, it was easy, right? Trust me...if I can do it, anyone can! :)

Moving on.....

This whole month has been filled with stories of how our precious SHINE sisters are serving those around them. Haven't you been inspired? I think this has been my favorite month of SHINE since we began in January. :)

Today, my friend Mandy is sharing her SHINE serving story. I have known Mandy for a long time...since middle school! You know, like 10 years ago. ;)) **insert a hearty laugh**

Mandy has always been such a sweet and godly girl. I am so inspired by her journey.  It is laced with God's handiwork. It truly is.

Be blessed by Mandy's story, sweet SHINE.

Anna Faith
by:Mandy (Nobles) McKnight

I have tried to write my own blog for years now, but can never find the time to do it. And when I do find the time, I can't find the words. So, this is NOT my thang! But I was so excited when Jill asked me to share how my family is serving, because I've been praying for opportunities to share our story. Yay, God!!

Let me start from the beginning.......
On 02/02/02 (cool, right??), I married the man of my dreams....Eric McKnight.

We had many conversations about kids, even before we were married, & Eric always said he wanted 4. I thought he was a little crazy, but I was so excited to be marrying a man that thought big! 

From July 2004- November 2008, I gave birth to 3 of the most precious children on the planet. Jacob, Owen, & then the princess, Maggie

We were on our way to our perfect little family of 4 kids. During these same years, we were also chasing the "American dream". We bought a big house, way more than we will ever need. We had many conversations about becoming debt free, so we could buy another house in the mountains, or take more vacations, or just live more comfortably. Basically, we were trying to create our own peace & joy. 

We used to actually pray for these things, because of verses like Psalms 37:4 'Take Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.' 

But then someone a whole lot smarter than I am told me to look at this verse in a different way. Did it mean that God would give me the things that I had been desiring? Or could it mean that if I delight in Him, that He will CHANGE the desires of my heart. He will GIVE me the desires that my heart should be desiring. 
And that's just what He did. 

Back to my little family of 4 kids...... When I was pregnant with our 3rd, Miss Maggie, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that this would be my last pregnancy. It didn't make sense at the time, because we knew we weren't done growing our family. Our desire to have a lot of kids was still there. Soon after Maggie was born, JAMES 1:27 came crashing into my world.

'Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.'

Wait... what? 

You mean pure religion in the eyes of the Father isn't making sure I read my Bible every morning before the kids get up? You mean, it's not making sure I'm in church every Sunday? You mean it's not giving my tithe every month?

Now, don't get me wrong. These things are extremely important to our heavenly Father & Him drawing us closer to Him. But when He chose to write down what pure religion looks like, He spoke of things such as taking care of orphans & widows. Wow! Eric & I had to ask ourselves what that meant for us as followers of Christ. 

Over the next several months, lots of questions kept popping into my mind. When we would sit down for dinner, I'd be thinking,'Could we push up one more chair to the table?'

When I'd kiss my kids goodnight, I'd think, 'Do I have enough time to kiss one more kid goodnight?'

Did I have room for one more carseat in our van?

Did I have room to fit one more twin bed in one of our many bedrooms?

The answer was always, 'Yes.' Yes, Lord! Yes!

I started talking to Eric about adoption. I had such a strong feeling that the Lord was calling us to this. He wasn't so sure. He wanted another biological child. I knew the Lord would need to change his heart, & that it wouldn't come from me. It only took a few short months, before Eric was the one saying, "Fill out the paperwork! This is where the Lord is leading our family."

We couldn't get past this idea....What if it were me? What if I was the one with no family? What if it was Jacob, Owen, or Maggie? What if they were the ones sitting in an orphanage, being fed once or twice a day, going to bed hungry. What if my little angels didn't have someone to comfort them when they were hurt or sad or cold or lonely? What would I want someone to do for them? I would want someone to take them home & show them the love of Jesus Christ. 

God has changed our focus, our hearts. We now know that our calling is to take care of the least of these. 

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

It's been a long road of paperwork & fundraising, but we now know who that 4th child of ours will be. 

Right now, she lives in an orphanage on the other side of the world in Shaanxi, China. She is 16 months old, born with some physical special needs, but she is so perfect in our eyes. Her greatest need is that she needs a family. And guess what? She has one!

 Let me introduce you to Anna Faith McKnight......

Sometime around February, Eric & I, along with our 8-year old, Jacob, will spend 2 weeks in China getting to know our little princess & bringing her home. We are already so in love with this little girl. She is our daughter.

 We know one day the Lord may want to grow our family again. And we will be ready to say, "YES!" As many times as He asks. 

We have never felt more peace. Eric would tell you the same thing. When you align your heart with the Lord's heart, amazing things will happen. I no longer want to buy a second home. I no longer think about taking expensive vacations. Now, I spend my time thinking about ways to save money, so we can adopt again someday, or become foster parents one day, or whatever the Lord asks of us. We will be ready.

One of my dearest friends, Angela Valenzuela, reminded me of something very profound this week. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father always starts with Him doing something first, & then us reacting to it. 

John 3:16 tells us that 'God so loved the world, that He GAVE his son....' God GAVE first. So, now we GIVE... of our lives, our time, our finances, our gifts, our abilities. 

God LOVED first, therefore, we are able to LOVE. 

And God ADOPTED us into His family. I am so overwhelmed when I think of how He has ADOPTED me as His daughter. I am an heir to the throne right along side Jesus Christ. That is huge! 

Because God ADOPTED me, I choose to ADOPT one of His precious little ones, His little Anna Faith.

The church is called to take care of the orphans & the widows. If we don't, who will?? 

This verse has kept me going throughout our adoption process.....

Proverbs 24:12 "Once our eyes are open, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts & keeps our souls, knows that we know, & holds us responsible to act." 

If you're interested in specifics about adoption agencies, foster care, or sponsoring a child feel free to contact me at These are some of my favorite topics of conversation! 

Adopted by the Most High,


P.S. Check out this youtube video that completely rocked my world. Prepare to be changed....

Nov 28, 2012

Wednesday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: John 15

Happy Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls! Today is the day we intentionally WORSHIP our man, Jesus! Sing to Him, dance for Him...worship Him in all you do today!

I bet He just loves to hear your pretty little voices in tune, or like me, out of tune! Just worship Him!

We are continuing on today with our SHINE girls serving stories. Aren't you just loving hearing your sweet SHINE sisters stories? Really, we ALL have a story. Yes, even YOU! :)

My precious friend, Rebekah, is posting her story today. Rebekah truly has a servant's heart. She exudes the Father's love in all she does. Really, it's true.

Be blessed by her story, and may it inspire you today!

I love you, SHINE friends!

My Story
by: Rebekah Vepraskas

Hey, y'all! A few months ago, I attended the Women of Faith conference with our SHINE girls group near Atlanta, Georgia. During the conference, the soloist, Sandi Patty and her daughter, Jenn, were telling of all of the World Vision kids that they have sponsored through the years. I believe their family has sponsored 11 children. (Wow!)

They showed a video of her teenaged son, Sam, finally meeting his own child sponsor in Africa and not being able to communicate through a common language, instead they played soccer and communicated in their own way together. They had exchanged pictures and letters for years and were so excited to meet in person for the first time.

My thoughts immediately were of our sons, Jack, Bodie and Sam, who are soccer players, too. I had always wanted to be a World Vision sponsor, even as a little girl. I remember seeing all of the commercials about sponsoring children in poor villages all over the world. “For about the cost of a cup of coffee a day…” I remember the words well and I remember those little sad faces of the children.

I was trying to talk myself out of my intense urge to sponsor a child. I thought, My twin sister, Mary, has been doing this with her family for years. Don't wait another day, Rebekah!

I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking $35.00 per month is a lot of money. It is! 
But, in my heart I knew that to us it is a Mexican dinner for our family of 5. The frivolous way we sometimes spend $35 made me know that we could make $35 really count to a child in need. I heard the Lord say to me, “I have given you so much, this is about $100 dollars a month and it will help my children.” 

I turned to my friend, Kelly McLeod, and she enthusiastically agreed to go out into the lobby and help me find us 3 new brothers for my 3 boys. She got the bug too and we were off... :)

The World Vision staff has to be the nicest group of people I have ever worked with. They were so sweet and supportive when I told them that I needed to find 3 boys close to my 3 boy’s ages. They said we could find little boys with the exact birth dates of our boys!? Wow! And, we did! Kelly and I searched through all of the cards on the tables and then on the World Vision website.

It all came together and we are so excited with these perfect pairings for us! Jack(6) is sponsoring Samuel from Ethiopia. Bodie(4) is sponsoring Thokozani from Malawi. Sam(2) is sponsoring Dieudonne from Burundi. These 3 sweet boys are all the exact ages of our sons (with the same birth days!) and they are in our prayers and on our hearts.

 This way to serve is so exciting to me and our family! I think I am so excited because I have wanted to do this for 30 years now, finally, we are actively participating in a "life change" for these 3 little boys, their families and the villages. These little boys are learning about Jesus...

They can do so much with so little and now these boys and their families have access to:

Clean water, food and basic health care are now going to be available to our African brothers.

We are only a few months into our mission, but we will see it through. Thank you to Kelly and Mary and World Vision for helping to make my little dream come true. Thank you to Jill for giving me the chance to toot the World Vision horn. It is really a wonderful feeling.

Happy to help :),

Rebekah Vepraskas

Nov 27, 2012

Tuesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 14

Happy Tuesday, SHINE girls! How is your memorization going? I bet you already have that verse memorized, don't you! Smart girls, you are! :)

Today, we continue with our SHINE girl serving stories. Yay!

I am thrilled to introduce to you my friend, Ashley Moon. Ashley is one of my favorite people ever! She inspires me more than she will ever know. Not only that, but she is beautiful, sweet and oh so funny! Yeah, like big time. :)

Ashley posted her story a few months ago here on SHINE. If you haven't read it, you need to go and check it out. OH, so good. 

Be blessed by Ashley's serving story. I know you will!

My Story
by: Ashley Moon
Ashley and her youngest cutie--Jett 
My beautiful sweet friend Jill planted a little seed in my head a few months ago about this elementary school volunteer program for young girls. So a good friend of mine and I talked and prayed about taking on this interesting project that we knew nothing about together. 
We did some background checks, training and had a few meetings before we dove right in and let me just tell you all; the very small commitment I have made has given me SO much joy! 
We talk with these nine precious little girls every Wednesday about such adult things and they are always eager to learn and ready to listen. Even in times where I feel not-so-close to GOD, I still see HIM working in my-so-called life and I just love Him for that. 
These nine girls, who we thought we would have a hard time even remembering their names, have such a special place in my heart today. I so badly want them to make SMART choices in their everyday lives and I want them to always do well and be happy!! My only hope is that talking with them and sharing some real truth with them will help them in the future. 
Melissa and Ashley
SMART Girl Leaders
     Sometimes when everything is crazy and you don’t think you’re doing anything that matters, you can be making a BIG difference and not even know it. It’s kind of strange how things like that happen, but I am very blessed to be a part of the SMART Girls program and to be doing it with such an amazing woman…. Melissa Martin, you are just the best. Also, Jill thanks for being such an amazing person in my life, He knew I needed a friend like you.  

Last but not Least (by all means) Dear Heavenly Father….. A huge shout out to You for being an Awesome GOD and always leading me in the direction I need to be in!!
In his Love, 
Ashley Moon

Nov 26, 2012

Monday SHINE....

Weekly Reading Plan for the week of 11/26-12/2

  • Monday 11/26: John 13
  • Tuesday 11/27: John 14
  • Wednesday 11/28: John 15
  • Thursday 11/29: John 16
  • Friday 11/30: John 17
  • Saturday & Sunday: John 18 & 19
Happy Monday, SHINE girls! How was your long weekend? I hope it was super duper fabulous--just like all of YOU!

So, I want to share something with you girls in hopes that you will be on board with doing this with me. (fingers crossed)

My kids and I started a Memory Verse Monday tradition last year. (remember, I love daily traditions?!) ;)

Every Monday, I write on a 3x5 note card a scripture for us to memorize. By Friday, we say the verses out loud without looking) to each other and give high fives! (sometimes I give them a special little treat, but not always.)

I feel the Lord tugging at my heart to share the Memory Verses with all of you SHINE girls. 


Well, I believe that we need to be armed and ready with His living, breathing, active Word at all times! We may not always have our bibles, bible apps, note cards, etc. with us. We need His word to be hidden in our little hearts ready and waiting to share, encourage, and edify someone.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

I want us SHINE girls to take it to the next level. Big things are found at the next level. I can just feel it!

Here's how it will work: 

I will post a memory verse each Monday. Write it down on a piece of paper, note card, type it in your phone...whatever works for you.

Say it daily until you have it memorized. You will not believe how it will change your day. It will push us to meditate on His Word in our days. 

There are a whole lot of words thrown at us in any given day. Most of them are not holy, wholesome, and pure. We need His Word to combat the unholy words in our lives. Words are powerful.

Nothing is more powerful than His Word, though. Nothing.

Are you with me?

Let's be accountable together for this. Call a friend and have her do it with you. Just last week, I tucked our Memory Verse scripture in Lem's car before he left for work. 

I had no idea that he even saw it until he shared with me that he had used that scripture as an example in his middle school small group that he leads! Wow! I had NO idea!

Here is a little hint to help the memorization: Write it down everywhere you are. For example, I will write it on my mirror with a dry erase marker, on my kitchen chalkboard, and on my daily calendar. Then, I leave the little 3x5 note card in my car at all times. If you are in your car as much as I am, this helps the MOST! :)

Let's do this girls! Take this leap to the next level with me. You won't believe how His Word will mold your pretty little heart and change your thinking. Truly, it will. 

Here's our first Memory Verse, girls:

Fitting for our first verse, right? :)

The fun part: SHOUT out to me when you have it memorized! Email me, call me, text me, tweet me..let me know so that I can celebrate with you! That's what SHINE friends are for! :)

stretching and growing with you,


Nov 25, 2012

Prayer Requests/Praises for the week of 11/25-12/9.......

Prayer Requests/Praises for the week of 11/25-12/9:

Please post your prayers requests and/or praises under this post. It is our honor to lift up our SHINE girls in prayer each and every day.

Nov 23, 2012

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 10
Weekend Reading: John 11 & 12

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls! Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

I will make this short and sweet because some of you are reading this from your Smart Phones because you are STILL out Black Friday shopping! Yes, I know some of you very well! :)

Your Fun Friday Challenge is:

Pray for someone today. Pick one person and lift their name up to the Father throughout he day.

 All day.

Ask the Lord to help you choose who this person should be. You may know exactly who you should pray for by the time you read the end of this sentence. Or, if not,  just pray right now that the Lord will clearly show you.

Prayer is powerful. Especially when we are praying for others. It forces our hearts to focus outward instead of inwards. Their is power in this. Big time.

"Pray without ceasing."
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Happy Weekend, sweet SHINE!

still giving thanks,


Nov 22, 2012

Thursday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 9

“Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.” 
1 Corinthians 1:4-5 

You ALL are on my Thankful list today!

Thank you for SHINE-ing bright in this world for the Lord!

Enjoy your day....and get your reading done! :)

overcome with gratitude,


Nov 21, 2012

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 8

Happy Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls! Worship the Lord today in all you do! Sing to Him, dance to Him, just plain out worship Him!

My kids and I love this day because we turn up the radio really loud in the car and jam out! If you pull up next to us at a red light you will see quite a sight. For real.

Okay, moving on to our SHINE girl serving story of the day. :)

My friend Mary Balicki is posting today. Mary is a giver. Plain and simple.

She has the amazing God-given gift of hospitality. If you have ever been around her you have probably been blessed by something she has made you (like yummy food) or something she has given you.

I will never forget one time last year she was wearing some really cool wood earrings. I ooohed and ahhhed over them and she took them right off and gave them to me. I am so serious!!

She's just like this. She loves to give. She just does.

Be blessed by her story today, sweet girls.

Our Shito, part of a World Vision
It was the spring of 2004, when Chad and I purchased tickets to hear Third Day play at the Fox Theater.  Love them, love their music and even more, a date night with my man.  J 

I was pumped about this evening out on the town!  Although, I could not have known how my heart would be forever changed afterward.  The Third Day show was awesome – of course. 

Then, there was an intermission with a video - - I skipped the bathroom break to find out more about these children who “need our help”. 

We watched the clip and immediately, our hearts were drawn to this cause.  As first time parents of our oldest daughter, Audrey (1 ½ at the time) we felt like we should take the resources that God had given us to help a little one – for just $35.00 a month. 

They had tables set up with photos of kids that we could sponsor on the spot.  It didn’t take long to notice this sweet girl from Ethiopia.  Her name is Shito Kumbi and we have gotten to know her well over the past 8 years. 

It has been a huge blessing for our daughters to grow up with the knowledge of the hardships that other kids face all over the world and specifically in Ethiopia.  Without Shito, we would never be able to adequately inform them.  Shito gives them a reference point for extreme poverty.  She also grounds them when selfishness and greed start to settle into their hearts.  I say, “think about Shito” -- they literally do and quickly realize where we need to regroup and refocus.

Your contribution of $35.00 a month could help a child like Shito attend school in their community, have clean water and eat every single day.  If you (like me) might be wondering how in the world $35 dollars could be so helpful? 

The average family income in Ethiopia is $380.00 dollars a year - - here in the US, it’s $41,400.00.  Wow!  Well, that sure explains it.  My dream is to someday meet our now 14 year old, Shito.  I want to look into her eyes, hug her so tightly and tell her how much we have loved her through the years.
Here is a note that I sent to Shito last month along with her Christmas card (it takes some major travel-time to arrive before the holidays).   I encourage you to look into sponsoring a child with World Vision (click on the link) – it’s a God-thing and will surely bless your life beyond measure! 

With love and gratitude,

Nov 20, 2012

Tuesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 7

Happy Tuesday, sweet SHINE darlings! I hope you are in the Thanksgiving mode this week! Isn't the Lord so good to us every single day? Really, He is. 

Today, we continue with our SHINE girls serving stories. 

My incredible inspiring friend, Michelle Thomas is posting today. 

A little about Michelle: she's HILARIOUS. yep, slap your knees funny. if you are not her friend, you NEED to be. Period. :)

Not only is she funny, but God has given her a million other qualities that just make her truly shine bright in this world!

She tirelessly serves. And serves. And serves. And serves. 

Michelle is the type of friend who is always there to help in whatever you need. Always. 

In fact, I kind of (un)officially named her our SHINE Mission Director. :) She knows a lot of places and a lot of folks. She's just everybody's friend. She really is!

I could go on for years about this girl, but I guess I will let her share. ;) 

Be blessed, SHINE friends!

My Story
by: Michelle Thomas

Greetings and glad tidings my fellow Shine sisters!

What an honor it is to share a little bit of my journey with you! As I started composing this post I soon realized just how many different layers there are to "service" and this journey God has me on...For the sake of time I encourage you to go visit my page There's SO much that has led to this epiphany of being the hands and feet of Jesus...being diagnosed with breast cancer was only the beginning...

Michelle when she was going through treatment.
 Bald and beautiful! :)
Fast forward from cancer diagnosis in 2010 to Sept 2011 after being challenged by Priscilla Shirer's study "Jonah" to find our "Nineveh" ...myself along with Angie (Jill's amazing sister) experienced a DIVINE appointment and ended up leading a weekly bible study at The Sparrow's Nest in Athens. A day shelter for the homeless, less fortunate, at risk youth and whoever God brings around. My eyes have truly been opened to see those that were once SO easy to overlook...Yes, it's messy but no more than MY sin that Jesus shed His blood for...I have met some truly beautiful people and had the privilege to pray for and with countless faces that are overlooked on a daily basis...I now thank God for this ministry!!! 

So this being the hands and feet of Jesus thing is pretty cool, right God??? I'm being obedient right??? You want me to go where.......AFRICA???  (Gulp)  Fast forward to June 2012...this lil 5ft person is heading to Africa, with a team of 27 others thru an organization out of Nashville called "Visiting Orphans".   The following is straight from my blog post on caringbridge upon return from Africa...

"Back in the USA...I've just returned from an amazing mission trip to Africa, namely Rwanda and say that I will forever be changed is an understatement...the people I met,the tiny hands I got to hold, the beautiful embraces, friendships made, these are all images I will forever have burned in my mind.  March of 2011 I sensed the Lord was asking me to take a huge step of faith...I prayed "Lord open my eyes and break my heart for what breaks yours..." 

Well, He did just that!!

 Over the course of the last year I've been blessed to work with the homeless, the poor, the sick, the elderly, widows and now orphans...the common thread among all of these has been "Hope" would think it would be me helping to bring hope but the fact is in all of these situations the Lord showed me that He is ever present and there is always "Hope"...He is with the least of these and one day they will be the greatest...This brings my heart such joy because while in Africa I witnessed poverty like never before.

My Loves in Ethiopia

I'm STILL processing all that we took in while visiting a section of Ethiopia called Korah..I know the poor have a special place in God's heart. I know Jesus is somehow close to them, in them. I've been reading a book called "Hope Lives" by Amber Van Schooneveld...I love what she has to say regarding poverty:

."There is a lot going wrong in this world...I can't change everything but I'm learning that God hasn't asked me to...I think there may be one little piece of the puzzle he's asking me to fill in, one good work he's asking me to do. Maybe when I'm working on my little piece and my friend is working on her little piece next to me and some church in Massachusetts is working on its piece and some Christians in Rwanda are working on their piece...maybe the God's great masterpiece will be revealed. My piece may seem small, as if it doesn't matter, but I'm just one part of the body of Christ. God is on the move to change this world one person at a time. I'm convinced God is asking me to join him.  God is on the move to heal, love and restore, and He's asking, "Who will go for me?" Who knows what God will do?  My heart cries out, "Here I am, send me."

Warning...Don't read this book if you're wanting to stay comfortable and keep your eyes closed to the messiness of poverty. On the other hand if you're wanting to do your part and live out Luke 12:48 "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." then I have no doubt Jesus will meet you within the pages of this powerful book.

My heart. Jean Claude in Rwanda

Take it to the next level people...Do Something...just start moving and God will direct your path (I promise!!!)

A huge part of my heart has been left behind in Africa...I hope to make it back!!!  Until then I want to get the word out regarding some great ministries I witnessed first hand...  ,   Prayerfully consider coming alongside any of these minstries...The needs are great and the workers are few!!!"

Noel Orphanage in Rwanda

So there you have it friends...we are ALL called to serve...there are countless opportunities, some of which are in our own backyard.  I loved  coming alongside each one of you as we had our very first SHINE Mission Project!!

Nov 19, 2012

Monday SHINE....

Reading Plan for week of 11/19-11/23:

  • Monday 11/19: John 6
  • Tuesday 11/20: John 7
  • Wednesday 11/21: John 8
  • Thursday 11/22: John 9
  • Friday 11/23: John 10

Happy Monday, SHINE girls! I really do not have a whole lot to say this morning because I am SPEECHLESS!

Truly, I am overwhelmed by your GIVING hearts!

This is my garage! See what I mean?!

Even if you were not able to come, or to donate...we still felt your prayers! That means more than anything!

My heart has been lifting you up in prayer all weekend and will continue to lift you up this whole week. 

You have given new meaning to my Thanksgiving. Thank you.

still speechless,


"Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,
    will thank you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet
    how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!"
Psalm 79:13

Prayer Requests and Praises for the week of 11/19-11/25....

Please leave your prayer requests and praises under this post. We love lifting you up to the Father and thanking Him for YOU!

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you ..."
 1 Thess 5:18.

Nov 17, 2012

Saturday SHINE.....

Weekend Reading: John 4 & 5

Happy Saturday SHINE girls! Remember we have weekend reading now. So, try to take a few minutes and read. It will bless your socks off!

Two things for you:

We have our SHINE give-away winner! My daughter picked the name VERY early this morning!

I am excited to announce that Sarah is our winner!!

Her comment was:

I'm so thankful for heat in my car and my house. Thank you Lord! Sarah

So happy for you to receive the gorgeous bracelet that Michelle Chapman is giving away! 


Okay, the second thing is:

I hope to see you this Sunday at Eastridge Community Church from 2-5 for our SHINE Mission Project!  If you need directions to the church the address is:

Eastridge Community Church
863 Highway 142 E
Covington, GA 30014

If you have  clothing/canned food donations to drop off, great! Even if you have nothing to donate, come and see us anyway!

You may also drop off the laundry detergent on Sunday as well if you feel led to donate some. 

Please hear me again: You do not have to donate anything at all! You can just come and fellowship and be entered to win a few SHINE girls prizes!

Bring your family if you would like! My husband and children will be there!

**Please email or call if you any questions!! My cell is 678-773-0379 and my email is

I am SO excited to see your sweet faces on Sunday!!  

Thank you for being GIVERS in all you do!

serving with YOU,


Nov 16, 2012

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading: John 3

Well, finally! Happy Fun Friday, sweet SHINE friends!

It's been a long week around these parts. Sick kids and long days. Thankful for this Fun Friday! Yay!

Are you girls just loving our SHINE girls serving stories or what? Each story blesses and inspires. I am so grateful for girls that are willing to take the time and share their journey with each of us. Aren't you?

So, we have 6 days until Thanksgiving. Let's tune into a thankful attitude today and live it out loud!

Today's Fun Friday Challenge:

Tell those around you how THANKFUL you are for them! Be specific!

Call them, text them (my personal fave), email them, tweet them...whatever works best in your little world. Just let them know how much you appreciate them.

Sometimes, I think we can (unknowingly) take for granted those people in our lives that are constantly encouraging us, blessing us, or helping us. They need to be reck-o-nized! ;)

Shout it out to them today! Let them know!

I'll be the first to shout out:

Thank YOU ALL for investing your time, love, encouragement, prayers, and support into this SHINE ministry. If it weren't for all of you, I would be one lonesome gal trudging through the Bible one chapter a day. Seriously! It sure helps to know that YOU are with me on this journey.

I've never, ever in my life felt so loved and encouraged, and prayed for. (pass the Kleenex--crocodile tears)

I want you to know that my life is changed because of all of you. I lift you ALL up to the Father every single day of my life. Your names are all over my little journal that I write love notes to God in. I am so serious.

So, thank you. Thank you for making this ministry possible.

Thank you for your faith that inspires me.

Every single day.

spilling over with thanksgiving,


"I thank my God every time I remember you.."
Philippians 1:3

**OH! Don"t forget to come THIS Sunday to our SHINE Mission Project Drop-off! Click on this tab..or go to top of the page and click on that link for more info. I will be there from 2-5, so come anytime within that time frame! Cannot wait to see you! We will be giving away some cool prizes to those that can attend! 

Nov 15, 2012

Thursday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: John 2

Happy Serve Day Thursday, SHINE girls! Today, focus on serving others in some way.

The kids and I have been memorizing this scripture all week:

We have been intentionally focusing on serving each other and anyone in our path each day this week. This verse is a CONSTANT reminder that we are serving the Lord when we serve others. How cool is that?

Speaking of serving, I am OVERWHELMED (that is the only word i can find remotely appropriate in my limited vocabulary) by your donations of laundry detergent and clothes and food. I mean seriously, you girls are GIVERS. Yesterday was a very tearful and emotional day as I was flooded with you sweet girls wanting to help! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

**Don't forget to get in on the SHINE girl give-away! Drawing will be tomorrow!**

Continuing on with our SHINE girls serving stories, I want to introduce my friend Melissa.

Melissa and I are kind of new-ish friends, but it sure seems like she has ALWAYS been in my life! She has been a huge part of my daily life out here in Madison, and her wisdom is priceless to me.

She's extremely humble in all that she does, and I am so proud to call her my friend. :)

Be blessed by her sweet story, girls.

My Story
by: Melissa Martin

I almost fell over when Jill asked me to write a SHINE post about serving...our God has such a sense of humor!  For the past few years I have struggled with the whole concept of serving others.  I have friends who make sandwiches for soup kitchens and serve the homeless in downtown Atlanta.  One of my favorite Madison friends began a program to serve the needy here in this community.  But I kept hearing God tell me that I was not to take on any more than I already had on my plate.  I am a stay-at-home mom to three boys and my husband travels for work each week.  I know he wants us to serve others but I kept hearing God tell me that my ministry was to my husband, children and our church family right now.  

Then, one day when school had just started (and I entered my first year with all 3 going 5 days a week), Jill approached me about a need in our elementary school.  There is a curriculum that the Boys and Girls Club puts together called SmartGirls and there were more girls wanting to be involved than there were leaders to teach them.  I got goose bumps!  As a former school counselor this was just the sort of thing I love to do!  

I told Jill I would pray about it and talk to my husband about it.  God confirmed in every way possible that it was finally my time.
My friend Ashley and I agreed to go through the training to be SmartGirls leaders.  We currently have 9 girls that we meet with each Wednesday.  We teach them about making good choices and give them the correct information they need about sex, drugs, STDs, alcohol, and abuse.  We tell them that we want them to plan ahead and know how to get themselves out of sticky situations that they will face in the future.  We encourage them to ask us if they have questions that they may not feel comfortable asking other adults. 

I am so glad I waited for God to show me where he wanted me to serve.  I could have jumped into many opportunities in the past.  But, SmartGirls was the right fit for me.  I am able to use my God-given gifts in a way that I know HE intended for them to be used.  In following God's will I have been blessed beyond measure.  My friendship with Ashley has grown stronger as we meet each week to plan.  The girls that are in our group make their way into my prayers each day and I am so happy to know each and every one of them.  And even though the topic is sometimes pretty heavy, each week I find that at the end of our time together I feel lighter than I did when I started. 

Have a great day, SHINE girls!!

Nov 14, 2012

Wednesday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: John 1

Happy Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls! If you are new to SHINE, today is the day we focus on worshiping our KING! Be intentional in praising Him, girls. He longs to hear your sweet voices lifted high to Him!

Today, not only will I worship Him in song, but I will worship Him with my heart that is overflowing with gratitude.

I don't even know how to begin this story without just straight up being real.

This past Saturday, Lem's little middle school small group had plans to feed a local homeless shelter. They were to cook a big Thanksgiving meal and serve these incredible folks.

He had told me a while back that he wanted us to do this as a family. I was excited about it!

Until Friday rolled in.

Friday rolls around and he gives me a list of things that we (more like I) need to cook to take to the meal.

Do what???

Now, I really do like to cook. But for 40 people? Seriously? On my Fun Family Friday night?

My heart was wrong. Like, way wrong.

Let me back up a minute and say that Lem had said that WE would cook as a family and make it a wonderful serving and learning opportunity for our kids.

Well, guess what?

Yep, you guessed it. I was the lonesome gal cooking all that stuff on my Fun Friday night.

Me, myself and I.

Saturday rolls around and I am determined to stay home and just let he and Joseph (my son) go to serve.

My heart was pinging all over the place. The Holy Spirit was telling me I needed to go.

My flesh was telling me to stay home and clean up this messy kitchen.

I ended up going. Against my prickly flesh.

I am not going to lie. Even up to walking in the church, I was pouting.

(good grief, this is horrible, isn't it?!)

Sounds even worse as I type it.

I had a conversation with the Lord as we waited for the shelter folks to arrive. It went something like this: "Okay, are you happy God? I'm here. Against my will, but I'm here."

A few minutes later a bus pulled in and the people started coming inside the church.

My eyes met a beautiful woman holding a little boy. She smiled the BIGGEST, most beautiful smile at me. Her little boy waved and smiled as well.

My icy heart melted right there on that grey carpet.

I knew why I had come. I knew why the Lord had pushed me out the door to be here.

It was her. It was her that I needed to talk to.

I sat down beside her as she ate. Her 3 boys were at the table with her. All under 7.

Little did I know that the table behind us held the rest of her children. 5 more boys.

8 total. (all boys)

I won't go into the details of our conversation, but my life changed in that very moment.

She inspired me. She blessed me. She changed me.

Her story, which I want to know more of, forever changed my heart.

She was strong. She was humble. She was faithful. She was.....beautiful.

My eyes brimmed over with tears a few times when we were speaking.

She said that living in this shelter had made her....humble.  It had also made her stronger.

I asked how her children were dealing with it. She said the older ones struggled at first, but now they were learning humility.


She said that sometimes she could not get their clothes washed so they would have to go to school with dirty clothes on.

The shelter families have to share laundry detergent and the washer and dryer.

I shuddered as I thought of how I had complained when I ran out of fabric softener.

We talked for a long time and then she introduced me to her beautiful friend. They both wanted to know all about my SHINE shirt that I was wearing.

So, I bragged about all of you SHINE girls and how you were all changing the world--one daily scripture at a time.

They listened intently and decided they wanted to be a SHINE girl too. Yay!!

Welcome our newest friends! Proud, beyond proud, to have you!!

I promised them a t-shirt, so I will be seeing them both real soon.

Here's why I am telling you this:

  • Go, even when you are not feeling it. Go anyway. God has something there for you. Trust Him.
  • Someone needs your ears to listen and your heart to care.
  • Little things--like laundry detergent--can change someone's life.

Here is your mid-week challenge:

Donate a bottle of laundry detergent with me to this shelter. I will come and get it from you, or you can bring it to our SHINE Mission Project Clothing and Canned food drive on Sunday. Or drop it off at one of our fellow SHINE girls drop-off locations.

If you cannot spare to donate a bottle, pray. Pray for our newest SHINE girls. Pray for the Lord to protect them, and shower them with His favor and His love.

Keep your eyes open today, sweet girls. God will place someone in your path. Be ready.

No matter where you are, who you are, or how you feel....God wants to USE YOU. He is just looking for an obedient girl.

Obedience takes no special skills, no special knowledge, no special anything.

It just requires obedience.

eyes wide open,


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