Jul 29, 2013

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the week of 7/29-8/4:

  • Monday 7/29: Job 6, 7
  • Tuesday 7/30: Job 8:1-9:24
  • Wednesday 7/31: Job 9:25-10:22
  • Thursday 8/1:  Job 11, 12
  • Friday 8/2: Job 13, 14
  • Saturday 8/3: Job 15, 16
  • Sunday 8/4: Job 17, 18

Happy Monday, SHINE girls! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Last night, the SHINE prayer girls and I had an incredible dinner and meeting. Of course all of YOU were on our minds and hearts as well. 

These prayer girls are the real deal. They pray. They seek the Lord. They strive to be obedient. 

I am always inspired each time we meet. They make me better just by soaking up their love for Jesus.

a few of our fabulous SHINE prayer warriors!

These girls pray for you...all of YOU! Isn't it great to know that you have someone interceding on your behalf? It truly is the best feeling in the world.

As I sought the Lord about our Memory Verse this week, He kept showing me the same verse. It was all over our conversation last night at our SHINE prayer girls dinner as well. It's a short, yet power-packed verse. 

"Be still and know that I am God"
Psalm 46:10

As we let this verse resonate in our hearts, I have a challenge to go with it. 

Yes, I know it's Monday. Our challenges are always on Friday, but not today. ;) I like to keep us on our toes. 

Our challenge is to be still this week.  

I will not be posting this week, so this will take something off of your plate during the day. 

Take the time that you would normally read the SHINE post, and be still instead.

Of course, do your bible reading first. Then, after reading, be still. 

Disconnect, unplug, rest in His Presence.

Crawl up in the Father's lap and just be still.

This verse is powerful because when we are still, He speaks. When we are still, we hear Him.

unplugging this week,


Jul 25, 2013

Thursday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Ephesians 5:3-6:9

Hey, sweet SHINE girls.

Many of us are praying for the Nash family. A family in our small town that is going through a terrible, terrible tragedy involving their precious children.

I had not planned on posting today. However, I was clearing out emails and noticed a post that my friend Lisa had sent me back in May. May??

Why have I not posted this before now?

I still have no clue. Only that the Lord knew we would need this post this very week, this very day.

He works in mysterious ways, y'all. He really does.

Be encouraged today. God is our Rock.

by: Lisa Inlow

Wanted to share with you today about surrender...and my story.

As I've posted before, I have struggled with fear.  It is by God's grace and Him working in me that I do not live in fear anymore, though sometimes, I do visit the house of fear.  But again, I do not reside there.  Giving God all the glory!!

It has taken me years, lots of tears, writing in my journal, along with a lot of listening to Him...the quiet voice...as my thoughts can be spiraling to the bad place.

I tend to run to the house of fear, when one of my children are sick.  And just normal kid stuff.  But that's where the enemy can get me.

Y'all obviously the Lord was working and knew I needed to go a step further.....

One time I sat on my couch and thought through my worst fear.  I pictured each scene.  And then the final scene...

And then, I saw Him.  And I saw light.

And I immediately felt...at peace.  A peace that has stayed with me, since that day.

Surrender.  All of it.  The good, the bad, the ugly.

Because He is sovereign.  He is in full control, not me.

And it's then, when I realized (again) that my 2 kids are not mine, they are His, I felt at peace.  Unbelievable peace.

But I had to process that worst-case-scenario to move forward.

Because if my greatest fear comes true, He will be there.

I recently had a situation with a child and a trip to the ER, my husband was in Sweden on business.  Yep, across the ocean.

On my drive there, I was less than thrilled at the situation.  But I cannot tell y'all how clearly I felt his presence with me.  I was calm.  I was not wrought up with fearful thoughts.  At all.  Seriously, if y'all knew me, you'd know what a miracle this is!  Praising the Lord again!!!

Listen, I'm no psychologist or counselor, just a woman whose worked threw a truckload of issues.  So I want to encourage you, that if you can get stuck in fear or anxiety, walk through those scenes...

You will see Him.  And feel...peace.

I want to pray for us.

Lord, we are going to have trouble on this earth, which makes us long for your return, even more.  During this time of knowing the things that can happen to any of us, may we see the light of You, shining brightly in the darkness.  Lord we know You are peace.  We know You are in control.  Help us to walk in this knowledge.  Make it part of our hearts, not just facts we know in our heads.  We love you Father.  Amen.

Jul 24, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Ephesians 4:1-5:2

Happy Worship Wednesday SHINE girls!

Today, I have a very special guest post. I have only recently met this new friend, however, she is one of those people that you can just see Jesus all over!

Terri Webster has a riveting story of God's Mercy and Grace in her life. The first time she told me her story, I was in tears. Literally. Hanging on every word that she spoke.

Today, you will hear a snippet of her testimony.  I think it ties in perfectly with our Memory Verse this week as well. God has this all planned perfectly.

Be blessed by my friend, and sister in Christ, Terri Webster.

The sweet and beautiful Terri

What Was Meant for Evil is Turning into Good
by: Terri Webster

Twenty-five years ago I was adjusting to a new life. I was a young mom in my late twenties with two kids, and had been married to my high school sweetheart for nine years. My daughter was about two and my son was seven. When I became a mom, my deepest desire was to be a stay-at-home mom. I loved being home with my kids and doing all the wifely things. We used to call it domestic engineering. I did get to enjoy that role…. for a while.

Adjusting to my new life was a nightmare. The two people I trusted the most betrayed me. My best friend and I helped lead worship in our little church. She sang and I played piano. Our sons played little league baseball together and our husbands coached. We sat in my living room not long after giving birth to our second babies, nursing together. It was one year after my daughter was born that the affair started. No one knew about it for months. When my husband left I thought it was for other reasons he’d given me. I was clueless and waist deep in denial.

One week after my husband left me to pursue his affair with my best friend, I went into the working world full time. It was easier to find a job back then. I had a high school diploma and office skills that made it easy to stay employed. However, the jobs I found were always at the low end of the pay scale, so I really needed the child support that my ex-husband was supposed to pay. In the 19 years that I was a single mom, the child support was never regular, timely, the right amount or nothing at all. A couple of years after our divorce, I faced foreclosure of the little starter home we’d bought together in Conyers, Georgia and entered the renting world.

Adjusting to the reality of my husband’s affair, and my new plight as a single mom, was also nightmarish. I was sick, physically sick. I thought I’d die of a broken heart or some bad disease because I could barely eat enough to stay nourished and strong. All the ongoing injustice fed my hurt and anger as it seemed God had abandoned me too. But that was far from the truth. Despite what was happening, there is one thing I fed on, which is the reason I’m still here today, writing God’s story. I’m still seeing God take something that satan thought would destroy me and turn it ALL around for His glory. I just have to add a Halleluiah here!!! All praises to Him!

The thing I fed on which kept me alive was God’s word. He fed me night after dark night, and lit day after painful day with the truth of who He is and what He will do. He literally was my strong tower that I ran to; once I got over being extremely mad at Him, that is. Mad cuz He didn’t heal my marriage like I heard Him doing for other marriages. I was mad when He didn’t stop the insanity of everything that was happening. When I realized He wasn’t going to interfere with my husband’s free will OR mine, I chose to take the road to healing. I realized I still had many choices I could make, and spiraling out into the world of sin and death was not going to be one of them. I was NOT going to give satan that satisfaction. If what God was feeding me was the truth, then this was all going to someday SLAP that devil in the face and cause his little workers of iniquity to take their own spiraling trip downward to where they came from.

God has and is still restoring what satan ripped away. His story isn’t finished yet, because there‘s still some unfinished business He’s tending to. He’s also tending to a ministry to single parents that is born out of the hardships, pain and heartbreak I experienced. He gave me two new best friends during my nightmare. Sande and Susan walked with me through ALL of it, and our friendship is still solid today, even though they both live in Florida now. I’m about to release “Markers for Single Moms: Finding God’s Direction in the Chaos,” which is God’s story in book form. God has given me a new precious, godly husband and restored so much more!

Terri and her beloved husband
You’re probably wondering what became of my ex-husband and friend. I have forgiven them and take my part of the responsibility in the demise of my marriage. A few years ago I was granted a permanent restraining order against my ex-husband. This was the result of years of emotional and verbal abuse, hurled with threats scary enough to convince a local judge to grant that uncommon restraining order. My ex-husband’s life brings sadness to me, as I hear rumors of him still going in and out of jail for numerous offenses. I don’t know anything about my friend. They did marry eventually, but it lasted two years. I hope they both will one day enjoy an intimate relationship with the Lord.

Terri's loves!

Whatever it is that you may be going through, I can promise you one thing. A complete and total reliance on God Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of His spirit will NOT leave you abandoned, destitute or rejected. Let Him handle whatever injustice may have been done. His living word is sharper than any sword, and brings nourishment to the core of our inner being. The Lord God Almighty is our refuge and strength, a very PRESENT help in trouble, Psalm 46:1! I must go to His word, the Bible, every day. I find everything I need right there, with Him. I can’t afford not to! And I love having all you SHINE girls with me feeding on His word together!

In His grip,

Jul 22, 2013

Monday SHINE......

Reading Plan for the week of 7/22-7/29:

  • Monday 7/22: Ephesians 2
  • Tuesday 7/23: Ephesians 3
  • Wednesday 7/24: Ephesians 4:1-5:2
  • Thursday 7/25: Ephesians 5:3-6:9
  • Friday 7/26:  Ephesians 6:10-24
  • Saturday 7/27: Job 1-3
  • Sunday 7/28: Job 4, 5

Happy Monday, SHINE girls!

I sure hope your weekend was a good one. Don't you just love weekends? My favorite is Sundays! Being surrounded by others that love Jesus--there is truly nothing like it. Right?

I was very ready for the weekend by the time Friday rolled around last week. My emotional state was at an all time high, and I really was craving family time and church time on Sunday.

Last week, my friend Kim and I, went to visit a family at Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta.

Their two daughters were involved in a terrible ATV accident, and one is left fighting for her life in ICU. The mother of the girls is a friend of mine. She is a friend of many in the small town where we live.

Our hearts are broken for this family. This is an understatement.

As Kim and I went to go shower our friend and her family with love, I wasn't prepared for the wave of unbelievable grief and sadness that would hit me. I mean, I knew it would be hard to see my grieving friend, but the realness and the rawness of it all knocked me to my knees.

As I spoke to the mother of the girls, I was in awe at her strength. I tried so hard to hold it together and not break down right there in front of her. I almost made it. 

When I finally broke down, I held my friend tight and told her that she could not see it, but we could all see it. 

Jesus was carrying her. Jesus was carrying her family. 

It was so blatantly obvious. We could all see it. Her strength, her perseverance, her..... .unwavering faith.

When I got home from that visit, I searched my bible for words of comfort...for myself. My faith seemed to be wavering, my strength was gone. Unlike the mother of those precious girls.

The Lord led me straight to this verse. 

I could have fell on my face. Quite possibly, I did.

So, as I prayed for what our memory verse should be this week...the Lord gently reminded me....what else could it possibly be but this verse. The verse He led me to that day. The day that I was emptied. Wavering. Weak. Lost. Searching for peace.

"When my heart is overwhelmed
 lead me to the Rock
 that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

This is now my home screen on my cell phone. I need to remember this. 

When my mind goes to my friend, the mother in the ICU room, I need to call on this verse. 

Maybe some of you need to know this today as well.

Maybe it's not a child fighting for her life, but maybe it's something else.

Whatever it is that overwhelms you today, go to "The Rock that is higher than I."

One more thing....would you please say a prayer for the Nash family in Madison today? 

We are all praying for a miraculous recovery for this sweet little girl.

Actually, please lift up the entire family. Would you?

Thank you so much.

looking up,


Jul 20, 2013

Saturday SHINE....

Our Reading:
  • Today 7/20:  Ephesians 1:1-14
  • Sunday 7/21. Ephesians 1:15-23

Hey, SHINE sisters! 

Yesterday's post was a doozie about loving and praying for our Saul's, 

As I thought about this challenge, I remembered a post that my friend Kim Jaynes had written way, way back. 

I wanted to post it again, because I think it will resonate with many of us.

Be blessed by Kim's post today.

Kim and Christian Jaynes 

by: Kim Jaynes

Hello, SHINE girls! 
Jill and I go back in time about 27 years!  She was ten years old when I met her. She, and her sis (my BFF), were playing in a yard down the street from where my parents were building a house. We hit it off from the start and the rest is history!
We have been through a lot over the years and she has always been like a little sister to me!  We have shared so many memories and I cannot imagine what my life would be like without my Jilly!
Well………when Jill asked me to blog for her today I was, of course, honored!!!  I immediately said yes (because this is what I do when someone asks for my help!) Then, after hanging up the phone, I thought…..”What have I agreed to?”  But, being raised to be true to my word……there were no options..…guest blog I would!
 I truly am not worthy of such an honor nor am I wise enough to lead any charge to glorify God but with His guidance I pray that some or all of this message will resonate with at least one person!!
Let me give you a little background before I go into my “light bulb” moment when I realized what was keeping me from a true relationship with God…………
Like most good church going little girls, I was saved and baptized at the age of ten.  Then sometime between age ten and puberty…..I jumped off the path God had set for me and straight onto the fast paced highway of the flesh! I spent most of my teen and early adult years so far removed from God it would make most of your heads spin! 
When I think of some of the things I have done, I am in complete and total awe of the wonderful blessings God has so mercifully and graciously given me over the years despite so many poor choices!
It was not until I was 28 years old, sitting in the pew listening to an evangelist preach one Thursday night, that I literally felt the Holy Spirit move!  There was no denying what was going on!  The more determined I was to stay on that pew, the stronger I felt the spirit urging me to move
So from the age of 10-28 I had lived a lie!  I would say, “Yes I am a Christian” but my walk was anything but Christian like.  An 18 year lie!!  That was 18 years in the wilderness, by choice! Ok, I am 40 so that is almost half a life of living lost and searching for something to fill the many voids left by living OF the world instead of a Christian IN it!!  I had conformed to the ways of the world!
 I walked the isle of that church that night, tears streaming!  I rededicated my life to God and chose to be re-baptized.
The rest is history…..right?  WRONG!
I am so thankful for God’s promise in Joel 2:25 “of giving back the years that the locusts have stolen.” My years were not stolen, I gave them away!
I wish I could say that my life did a total 180 degree turn at that point, but my walk has been and will continue to be a work in progress! 
I realized a few years ago (about the age of 33—yes five more years) that I had interference in my relationship with God! There was a barrier, something just was not right!   I realized I was reaching one hand out to God and hoping for all He had to offer yet I had the other one firmly gripping things I did not want to lose control over!
Part of what I held on to was my unwillingness to forgive those who had really hurt me!  A defense mechanism I had perfected, or so I thought.  I was a professional at putting up a wall the instant someone made an attempt to cause me pain.  In reality, I was only burying the pain and holding that person hostage. Or was I holding myself hostage?   
I realized that satan was oh so pleased with my hardened heart!  He reveled in my unwillingness to forgive, even when I had no conscious thought of what I was doing! I was allowing him to have victory because I refused to be vulnerable, I refused to completely let go with both hands and trust God with everything!
So forgiveness was my barrier and here is where the revelation begins………………
What do you think of when you hear the word FORGIVENESS?
Webster says it is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution
Did you get that last part??  CEASING….Stopping, bring to an end, letting it go. No longer expecting vengeance!! No longer expecting payment, no longer holding that grudge!!!!

YES, I know that this can be HARD!!
 Oh do I know! 
I was genetically predisposed to be a grudge holder; it was a joke at family reunions!  We could all hold a good ol’ fashioned grudge or two!

For years I carried around a seed of un-forgiveness as if it were some sort of battle star or medal of honor I had accumulated along life's tough road of “hard knocks”---about 20 years of carrying and feeding this seed to be exact! Even though I really did not think about this "seed" at all and I actually thought I had dealt with it and moved on---I was oh so wrong! 

But the closer I was drawn to God and began studying His word the more I realized that the little tiny seed had rooted deep in my heart and had grown into a strong oak like tree that was producing very bitter, sour fruit in all areas of my life! I had allowed that seed of hurt to turn into anger, then resentment.  Pretty soon bitterness had set in and that small tiny event was a stronghold in my life! Any future event in my life that brought some sort of reminder emotion to the surface would send me in a tail spin crash landing, even if it only related to that seed in the smallest way!
Any mention of that person’s name would stir up very powerful emotions of anger and hurt but I could’ve won a Grammy for my performance because I could convince anyone that was old news!  I was such a great actress, I had myself fooled!

I am going to go out on a limb and be completely transparent......I even went so far as to get a tattoo (yes!) to represent a time of moving on after I had thrown the seed to the side of the road--or so I thought! HA.....joke was on me....I do love God's sense of humor! Now I have this "medal" permanently inked on my body (I was smart enough to get in an inconspicuous place!). Let me say that I do not have a problem with tattoos; I actually kinda like some of them!  But now, my tattoo serves a reminder of the poor choices I made when I did things MY way instead of its original intent of marking, what I thought to be, a milestone moment!! Talk about irony!

Why do we or why do I feel justified in doing something so silly? Keeping a grudge? Carrying this around like some 50lb ball on a chain!??

Why not just let it go?

Well, for me, my CHOICE to plant this seed and then give it nourishment for all those years was my way of
 "demanding punishment or restitution" and it was also a self defense mechanism!  You know......"I am NOT going to let that happen ever again!"

Guess what...I was trying to control that which was not mine to control! 

 Is that my job? Am I the one who's "owed" something??

Absolutely not!  That attitude only resulted in the total loss of control!!!

I had been giving power to a lie from satan! 
 "If I forgive then I am telling them that what they did is ok!!"  THAT IS A LIE!!   That is what happens when we continue to live in our flesh!  We make stupid decisions-----> like getting a tattoo to commemorate a not so memorable event!  haha

Were the actions against me ok?  NO! But my
 REaction was just as bad or worse!

I had justified a million reasons why I needed to stay mad and I would demand "payment" every time this "person" was in my presence! I shudder when I think back to how cruel I was to this person!  I was giving the thief power over my life and allowing him to take away the joy that God intended me to have!

Anyone else still with me??
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

But, in the end, I had caused a lot of pain to that other person because I thought they deserved it! I was also punishing myself and those around me!
Time went on and I was blessed with a wonderful husband and three of the most amazing children any woman could hope for!  I had happiness!  I had love! I had all I had hoped for!  But as long as I harbored that one tiny seed from long ago I was not able to have the relationship with God that he had intended for me to have!  As long as my relationship with God was off track, then so were all of my relationships!  There was no true joy, no life to the fullest with an attitude like this! All because of ONE TINY SEED!!

 I had built a wall around my heart so thick and so tall in order to guard it and divert such a painful injury from coming my way ever again that the wall was covering my eyes!  I was blinded by my flesh! 
Anyone in your life needing your forgiveness?  Anyone you NEED to forgive in order to remove that barrier between you and God?
You will, in the end, receive FREEDOM that can only come from obedience to God!

Who knows...................You may even free that person from the bondage you have had them in!! 

I pray that God will show you ANY area of your life where you need to show forgiveness!  Sometimes we do not even know that we are harboring seeds of bitterness due to an unforgiving spirit until we dig deeper!!   I pray that you will get to a point of complete and total forgiveness! I pray that God will give you the eyes to see any area that you need to address and give you the wisdom, strength, and heart to address it!

As long as we walk around wearing the past hurts like war medals......we cannot have the relationship with God that He so desires!  We cannot experience the full blessings that God has to offer and we cannot expect for Him to offer us the forgiveness He promises if we cannot forgive others!
 John 10:10  14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

2 Corinthians 2:5-8 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (attitude: stand ready to forgive)

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.(attitude: loving and forgiving just like God forgave you)

God commands us to love like he loves us.....

Matthew 22:36-40 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Can we seriously love like Him--- the unconditional, no matter what someone does/says I still love them way--- if we are still holding a past hurt hostage?!  

Give it to God.....HE WILL set you free from whatever it is!

I did make peace with this person a few years ago and it was one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had! Almost like getting air after being under water for a long period of time!

In return, I got an apology as well! What an unexpected surprise!  A God thing, I am sure of it!

Are you ready for freedom from and no longer a slave to a past/current hurt?

Are you ready to get God's full grace and blessing..........You have to offer that same thing to others first!?

The CHOICE is yours to make!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it is a choice only you can make!

It probably will not be easy! But nothing worth having comes easy!

Love you all!!

Jul 19, 2013

Friday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 31

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls!

Wow, what a week in our reading. 1 Samuel has easily become my favorite old testament book of the Bible.

As we sat in a circle last night in our SHINE girls small group, almost everything we discussed related back to Saul, David, or Jonathan.

We've learned so much about obedience, disobedience, humility, pride, love, loyalty, friendship, and faithfulness these last couple of weeks.

I want to focus on David's heart today.

Saul hated David. Saul was jealous of David. Saul tried to kill David several times.

How did David react to Saul's hatred?

David forgave Saul. 

David prayed for Saul.

David spared Saul's life on several occasions.

David knew better than to mess with the Lord's people. Although Saul had lost favor with God, David still knew better than to mess with the Lord's anointed.


This speaks volumes to me about how God loves His people. This speaks volumes to me about how we are to love each other.

Even our enemies.

David is the perfect predecessor for Jesus. A beautiful picture of what's to come with the Son of God.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven"--Matthew 5:43-48

This reminder gives my a heart a big ol' dose of conviction. This is hard. Real hard.

However, we must have a heart like David's if we desire to have a story like his. A story of faithfulness and strength. A story of courage and loyalty. A story of God's faithfulness to His people that are faithful and obedient to His word.

So, how do we do this? How do we love, forgive, and remove the bitterness in our lives caused by the "Saul's" in our lives?

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

We pray for our Saul's.

Yep, you heard me. Every last single one of them.

The challenge doesn't end here.

We find a small box, we write our Saul's names on sheets of paper, we put their names in the box.

The box represents Jesus.

We are giving our Saul's {our enemies, our hard-to-love people) over to the Lord.

As we place their names in the box, we put the lid on that thing, and we pray.

And pray.

And pray.

And we keep praying for our Saul's.

We did this challenge a year and a half ago. I still get emails about how powerful this has been in your lives.

Many of you still have your boxes. Many of you, will start your box today.

I challenge you to do this, right now.

You will be changed.

Your heart will become shaped more and more like David's. Your heart will become shaped more and more like the heart of Jesus.

Oh, Father. You know who are Saul's are. You know the hurt, you know the pain, and you know how hard this is. Help me to do this challenge. Help me to pray when my flesh is screaming in agony. Melt my heart for those around me. Mold my heart into your heart. Thank you, Father.

getting my box ready,


Jul 18, 2013

Thursday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 29,30

Happy Serve Day Thursday, SHINE girls!

Today, serve someone in your path. Make an effort to go out of your way and make a difference today. Even the smallest little act of service, reaps BIG rewards of JOY in another persons life. 

As we focus on the friendship between Jonathan and David this week, I asked my friend Mary to post. 

She's been a solid Jonathan in my life for many years now. I'm so grateful for her friendship. 

Be blessed by her post and encouragement today, sweet friends. I know you will!

Being a Jonathan             
Mary Balicki    

Hi there, SHINE Friends.  Jill asked me to open up about friendship and of course, I’m happy to share about this awesome gift in my life.  

You know what, I have loved this reading in I Samuel over the last week.   

I really love to read about David and Jonathan.  I get them.  They needed each other and they strived to help one another.  David has a need and Jonathan is trying to solve the problem and likewise.   That just speaks to me, y’all.  I relate to this so well.

For me, there is nothing sweeter than friendly fellowship among other godly women.  God designed us this way. 

I always say that He sure knew I needed help and that’s why he chose to bless me in this area.  That’s the truth.  It’s so much more about my girlfriends than about me. 

They have loved me unconditionally - - even when I’ve been unlovely.   They have also been there, on those days when I couldn’t brush my hair, because the valley was so wide and my pain was too great.  They have been the true Hands and Feet of Jesus in my life.

It’s an awesome thing to be loved like that.  To know that there are those friends who see your name come up on their phone and they don’t hesitate.  For me, that begins with being that type of friend. 

In my experience, the number one key to being a friend is “showing yourself friendly” by showing up…yes, that’s it.  There are no magic formulas, no hidden ingredients.  If you committed to going – by all means, please go!   

We all have those days that it’s just easier to stay home than to worry with making it all work but honestly, if you said you were going, your word means something and if it doesn’t – then start a new day of making it mean something.

Here’s a little story:  One day, I ran a race – it was my first and I hadn’t trained for it at all.  Zilch.  

Silly, I know.  Good news, though, I had this sweet friend at my side, who was in far better shape and could have smoked me.  Guess what, she didn’t.  No, she stayed right with me and we finished right in sync, together.  I remember being amazed.

With her there, I felt stronger, more capable and continued to endure throughout- right to the end.

That race has really become an awesome picture of our friendship.  She doesn’t miss anything in my world and neither do I when it comes to her.  

She has expressed how much that means to her and she doesn’t even have to say, because I know all too well.  It’s the best feeling to know you have each other’s back.   

So, if you have been blessed with a Jonathan.  Call her – go see her and when she invites you – show up. 
Proverbs 18:24  
A man that has friends must show himself friendly,
and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Jul 17, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 27, 28

It's Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls!

Turn up the music and praise Your Father in Heaven! He longs to hear our voices in sweet harmony lifted to Him. {my voice is anything but lovely, but He loves it anyway!}

Is our reading getting juicy or what?

Enter: Abigail.

We read about her yesterday. Abigail was Nabal's wife.

These two are about as well-matched as peanut butter and bologna.{yuck}

Scripture describes Abigail as "intelligent and beautiful".

Let's just stop right here. Imagine your name in the Holy Bible and that description was about YOU!

What an honor. I like her already. :)

Then we come to Abigail's husband, Nabal. He is described as "surly and mean in his dealings".

Polar opposites.

We learn in our reading that David had spared Nabal's shepherds from harm while they were in David's care. Not one of Nabal's shepherds or property was mistreated by David.

4-8 David, out in the backcountry, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep and sent ten of his young men off with these instructions: “Go to Carmel and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name, ‘Peace! Life and peace to you. Peace to your household, peace to everyone here! I heard that it’s sheep-shearing time. Here’s the point: When your shepherds were camped near us we didn’t take advantage of them. They didn’t lose a thing all the time they were with us in Carmel. Ask your young men—they’ll tell you. What I’m asking is that you be generous with my men—share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to me, David your son."

David later in the story sends his men to make peace with Nabal. He wanted Nabal to return the favor of kindness and to be generous in sharing food with David's men.

Nabal's reply was less than kind:

9-11 David’s young men went and delivered his message word for word to Nabal. Nabal tore into them, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on? Who knows where they’ve come from?”

When word got back to Abigail, she immediately went straight to David to apologize and make amends for her foolish husband.

23-25 As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him.

Wow, she downright calls her husband a fool. She speaks truth.

As I was explaining this story to my children, I told them that Abigail risked her life to tell David all of this. David could have easily had her killed at first sight because of his annoyance with her foolish husband. I told the kids that doing the right thing is sometimes hard, and takes a lot of courage.

Abigail was not lacking in bravery or courage.

David was in awe of Abigail and her good sense. He told her that she did the right thing and that she ended up sparing her husband's life because of her wisdom and prudence in the matter.

Abigail then went home and told her husband all that had happened with David. Nabal fell over dead with a heart attack. {i bet he did!!}

David heard about the death of Nabal and sent word to Abigail to marry her. {lucky Abigail!} :)

So, what do we learn from this?

God can make a way, even in an impossible situation. Abigail married a fool. Pure and simple.

I have no idea the back story of their marriage, but I would love to know! Why did she marry him??

God still used Abigail in a HUGE way even though she was chained to this fool, Nabal.

Sometimes we think that our circumstances keep us from being faithful, or our best.

We think that "if only it weren't for __________, my life would be so much better."

It's a lie.

God can make a way, and He will make a way.

This is what God says,
    the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
    who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
    they lie down and then can’t get up;
    they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
    —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
    rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
    the people I made especially for myself,
    a people custom-made to praise me.
Isaiah 43:15-16

He can even make a way in a broken marriage. A rebellious child. A sickness. A death. A loss. A bad childhood. A bad adulthood. A bad set of parents. A bad set of siblings. A bad family line. A job loss. A financial downfall. Rebellious children. Sick children. A yearning for children.

All of it.

I'm sure Abigail prayed fervently for her husband throughout their marriage. She had to! I bet her heart was changed towards him. I even bet that she had decided long ago to turn him over to God. Nabal wasn't her responsibility. She couldn't help his bad actions. However, she sure could use her wisdom and her trust in the Lord to lead her and guide her to make wise decisions.

Oh, and did He guide her!

What situation are you not trusting Him with?

Father God, we give you our brokenness. We give you our impossible situation. We trust you , just like Abigail did. Let our hearts be so in tune with You, that we  see life through Your Eyes and Your Perspective. Thank you for loving us so much, and always providing a way. 

turning it all over to Him,


Jul 16, 2013

Tuesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 25-26

Good morning, sweet SHINE sisters!

Today, Christa Rooks, is posting on the friendship between Johnathan and David. Her post ties in perfectly with our reading and our memory verse for this week.

Be blessed by her post, friends.

Through Thick and Thin
by: Christa Rooks

Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh. (1 Samuel 23:17, 18 NLT)

So solid and strong. It strikes me as I ponder friendship. Men have such a bond, especially the ones from the Lord. James has friends that have been with him since elementary school whom he is still close with now.  These are lifelong friendships that God brought together. 

Why as women do we have a difficult time keeping friends or being good friends to the ones we have? Perhaps it's the very thing we discussed in growth group ... judging from the appearance rather than the heart ... being petty and not acting in true love towards one another. Maybe hormones play a role. Maybe emotions take over. Maybe it's a combination of factors. Nevertheless, when you consider all that I just mentioned, one common denominator comes into play ... flesh. It seems that we as women like to use our hormones and emotions as an excuse to act however we please.  I believe God is calling us to love at all times and not allow the enemy’s temptation to use excuses to overcome us. 

for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons [and daughters] of God.  – Romans 8:13-14

As believers in and of Christ, are we to die to sin and flesh daily? Yes. Are we to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16)? Yes. And most importantly, are we to love others as Christ loves us (John 13:34)? Yes!

I want to be loyal and faithful to all the women God has put in my life. I want to love each of them with a sisterly love and lift them up in prayer. And I want to treat the God-bonds (those who I know the Spirit has forged together) like David and Jonathan did: a solemn pact before the Lord even to death.  He is calling us to LOVE.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  Love forgives. 

Let me leave you with what the bible says about love:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails …
 - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

God, help me to love this way.  Help me to embrace the women you’ve put in my life.  And help me to treat all my friendships the way Jonathan and David did

Jul 15, 2013

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the week of 7/15-7/21:

  • Monday 7/15. 1 Samuel 23, 24
  • Tuesday 7/16. 1 Samuel 25, 26
  • Wednesday 7/17. 1 Samuel 27, 28
  • Thursday 7/18. 1 Samuel 29, 30
  • Friday 7/19. 1 Samuel 31
  • Saturday 7/20. Ephesians 1:1-14
  • Sunday 7/21. Ephesians 1:15-23

Happy Monday, SHINE girls! 

Welcome to a new week in the book of 1 Samuel! Can you believe we are almost finished with this book of the Bible? Ephesians begins this weekend. 

I'm a little sad to be exiting this part of our reading. However, we will return to 2 Samuel in September.

It's just the way this reading plan flows. Jumps around a bit, but it's all good stuff, so no worries. ;)

Over the weekend, Johnathan entered the picture. Hello, who doesn't want and need a friend like Johnathan?

Somehow, the Lord gave Johnathan the wisdom to honor both David and his own father, Saul. It would have been so easy for Johnathan to betray his father {and rightfully so}, or to betray David to please his father.

Talk about a sticky situation.

4 Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. 5 He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”

Johnathan was able to make peace with the both of them, and make a way in a seemingly impossible situation.

Johnathan was wise beyond his young years. Don't we all want that kind of wisdom?

Don't we all want this kind of friend?

A friend that looks out for us. A friend that wants what is best for us. A friend that speaks highly of us to others when we are not even around. A friend that is truthful. A friend that will encourage, uplift, and honor you. A friend that is loyal...at all times.

Johnathan was a rare gem in David's life. It would have been easy for Johnathan to be jealous of David. I mean, David seemed to have it all. He was strong, handsome, loved by everyone, courageous, and had the Lord on his side. 

Why was Johnathan so loyal to David?

I think it's because he loved him so much. Johnathan knew that God was in David, and it drew Johnathan to him. 

I mean, WOW. Can we just stop here for a second?

As women, isn't it kind of hard to have that kind of friendship? 

I mean, jealousy can rear it's ugly head in the greatest of friendships. Right?

We can learn a lot from our friend, Johnathan. I cannot imagine how different David's life would have been without this friendship. God used Johnathan to further His Kingdom....in a BIG way.

Although it seems that David gets all the credit, and all the glory....you know there was that part with the big ol' giant and all.....

However, Johnathan holds a major part in this whole amazing piece of our history.

Many of you may not have even heard of Johnathan before reading this chapter. You may have skimmed right over him if you have read this passage of scripture before.

Oh, but let this sink in.

Let's think about our own friendships. Are we being a Johnathan to those around us?

Or, are we having a hard time being in the shadow of certain friends. 

Ouch. This one stings a bit, doesn't it? I mean, who hasn't felt this way at times. 

I sure have.

This brings us to our Monday Memory Verse:

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as
perfume and incense"
Proverbs 27:9

How about we work on living out this verse. 

Is our presence and counsel as "sweet as perfume and incense" to our friends? 

Or are we a fair-weather, not really wanting the best for them, and  a little on the jealous side--kind of friend.

Listen real closely....

God may be using you as a Johnathan in someone's life, and you may have no idea the impact you are having on making Kingdom History. 

Be a Johnathan today. 

inhaling the sweet aroma of friendship,


Jul 13, 2013

Saturday SHINE....

Saturday 7/13:  1 Samuel 20:1-21:9
Sunday 7/14: 1 Samuel 21:10-22:23

Happy Saturday, SHINE girls!

I hope you have been slaying some giants!

Every email, comment, text, phone call from you have encouraged me SO much in my own giant-slaying walk! You girls completely ROCK!

I'm so proud of you for taking that giant head-on, and trusting in your King to defeat that ugly monster!

Walk in Victory today, sweet friends.

As soon as yesterday's post was posted on the blog here, my friend, Sarah, emailed me this post.

I could not believe the similarities in her post and my post. It just goes to show that the Lord is speaking this to many of us. When God affirms His message through others, it is an awesome thing to behold. I actually got goose bumps when I read her post because it was so similar to what the Lord had laid on my heart about this passage of our reading. WOW!

Be blessed by Sarah's post today. Keep slaying those giants!

Saturday SHINE
by: Sarah Frachiseur

Did anyone happen to notice where David had to fight Goliath? In the valley. In the low place. Just like all of us. We have all been there. Some of you may be there now.

I just found it interesting. I have read this story in the Bible before and have never noticed that. David was in the valley, and he needed God like never before. The arena he was about to enter was too big for him alone. Way too big.

He didn't stand to fight Goliath in the name of David. No, he faced his enemy in the name of The Lord almighty.

"David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javeline, but I come against you in the name of The Lord Almighty..." 1 Samuel 17:45

And did you notice how he approached his giant?

"As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet
him." 1 Samuel 17:48

The enemy wants us to run the other direction. Don't be afraid to run toward your problem knowing the King of Kings is behind you. The battle is the Lord's!

"All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that The Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give all of you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:47

And did you notice that after David struck the Philistine with the stone, the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell "facedown" on the ground? I once heard an incredible pastor give a sermon on this. He said that with the force of the stone, the Philistine should have fell on his back. But he fell on his face. The battle is the Lord's.

He is BIGGER and MIGHTIER than anything or anyone we are facing. Lets step out with the same faith that David demonstrated. He loves us and will not let us fall or be defeated by our enemies. All we have to do is surrender. Surrender ourselves into the arms of Jesus.

So whatever it may be that you are facing today, I encourage you to step out in faith knowing that He is able.

David also cut off the head of the Philistine. Gory, I know! That seems to be how things rolled in the Old Testament. :)

 But I believe it was God's way of saying, "It's finished David. You have the victory."

When we surrender to Him, he takes care of the rest. And we learn so much in the process! I have heard and read many times what Jill says about the hard times we go through. He will use it to help someone else. Someone may be in that same valley one day, and not know which way to turn. God will use you to help that someone.

I'm kinda in one of those valleys right now myself, but I like to say that I'm on my way up the hill. :) My Mama was there to encourage me yesterday (it's her gift), and she reminded me that I am of more worth than I think I am, and that He loves me more than I'll ever know. And that He WILL be there all around, never leaving me, and seeing me through. And the SAME goes for you precious one! :)

So I pray that the head is cut off of that problem, situation, or attack you may be dealing with in Jesus name! I pray that He reveals Himself to you through this time, and that you come out on the other side shining like a new penny! Lord, please cover and protect each SHINE girl, giving her strength, peace, and dignity in all she does. May we be equipped with all we need to face the battles before us. We thank You for being the God who saves, the God who loves, and the God who never leaves us. Let us surrender to You always.

Much love to each one of you! Remember that you are going in well equipped. You've got God and all of Heaven backing you up. :)

Love, Sarah Frachiseur

Jul 12, 2013

Friday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 18

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls!

So, David has finally entered our reading. Oh, David. David, David, David.

You know how I feel about this guy. I'm totally smitten with him.

Here's why I love David:

  • he's the underdog
  • he's courageous
  • he's obedient
  • he loves the Lord with all of his heart
  • he's loyal {for the most part}
  • he's so faithful

These are just a few of the things I love about my David. Oops, I mean, our David.;)

My heart literally beats out of my chest when I read about him. He is so passionate about God! I love this passage of scripture. Just listen to David's words:

45-47 David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”

Does that give you chills up and down your spine or what?!

Your Fun Friday Challenge:

Are you facing something in your life that requires faith, courage, and total dependence on the Lord?

I challenge you today to face it head on. Look that giant in the eye and tell it that you come in the Name of the Most High God and that giant will be defeated!

Maybe it's a an addiction, a bad habit, an area that you need victory over, or a situation that just seems impossible to overcome. Or maybe it's just a heart that needs a faith boost. The giant of depression, sadness, grief, anxiety, loss of joy, bitterness, may be taking over some of us.

Get in His Word, quote His Mighty Truth, Be courageous and face that giant today!

With God on our side, NOTHING is impossible!

Father God, hear our cry for help. Hear our cry for faith, courage, and total dependence on YOU! We cannot defeat this giant alone, but we CAN and we WILL defeat it with YOU! Lead us into battle, with only the armor of the Lord fastened to us. We proclaim victory, Father. Just like David, we will defeat this giant and walk away victorious! We love you, Jesus. Amen.

picking up that stone,


Jul 10, 2013

Wednesday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 16

Happy Worship Wednesday SHINE girls! I love Wednesdays! Today we have the opportunity to intentionally worship our King in all we do! 

My heart is overflowing today because of His Word and His Love for us! Little bitty, itty bitty US!

As we read 1 Samuel 15 yesterday, the Lord did some talking to me about "partial obedience".

He showed me areas in my life where I did not fully obey Him. I cringed a bit. 

I have been like Saul at times. Doing it "my way", in "my time". Instead of immediate obedience, I often have delayed obedience. Which isn't quite the same, as we see in the life of Saul.

My sweet friend, Christa Rooks, is posting on this very topic today.

Get ready to be blessed, friends. Grab your coffee, and curl up to God's Word and this awesome post by Christa.

Lesson Learned
by: Christa Rooks

Don’t you just love how God speaks to you through a combination of His Word and your children? Sometimes it takes a while for me to get it … but when I do … Man! It pierces me.

So I’m sure you can imagine, or for those who have several children already, you know full well the challenges of disciplining children.  Not to mention, three boys under the age of 8 and a sweet, yet walking and exploring, 14-month-old baby girl.  We definitely have days where the children are especially well-behaved.  But most days, they test and push to see how much they can get away with (particularly with all the rain we’ve had this summer which equates to being cooped up). 

James and I have tried many different plans of discipline (charts, strike system, etc.), all while praying for the Lord to show us His plan.  What will work for our family? And I know you are familiar with how difficult parenting can be, no matter how many kids you have! It’s a tough job! No joke! But it’s also the most precious gift from God.  A privilege.  A reward. 

Recently, while hanging out with some dear friends, we started discussing what the bible says about discipline.  This family is so special to us.  They are godly and wise.  And they have some children who are older than ours, so we glean from them.   In talking that evening, we all agreed that first-time obedience is what children need to accomplish.  The motto at our sons’ previous Christian school is: “Obey – right away, all the way, everyday, in a cheerful way!” And I love it!

When James and I debriefed after such a good talk with our friends, we decided to try things a little different.  Our children have never been crazy bad, per say.  But we so desire to achieve complete obedience with them now so that later on in life, when there’s a lot on the line, they will be trained in obedience.  This is huge to us! So we explained to our children that we expect them to obey us, and that going forward, we are doing things differently.  No more warnings.  No more threats.  We give the direction and expect their direct obedience in respect.  Anything less than a simple yes ma’am or no ma’am (or sir) along with obedience (such as talking back, whining, asking WHY, disregarding what we say, or dare I say – telling us NO) is direct disobedience, and we will no longer tolerate it.  Zero tolerance in the form of immediate discipline.  Yeah, spelling all that out seems a little harsh, but once they ‘get it’ – oh my goodness – things are grand!  We have seen a huge difference, especially in our spunky and active three-year-old! (I could go into the whole spill about why children need boundaries, why they need to learn direct obedience early in life, and so on and so forth.  But that’s another post for another day.) 

 As I was drying my hair, I was praying about the scripture I read in 1 Samuel 15 that so ministered to me.  I’ve been chewing on it and thinking about it, trying to let it sink in to my spirit and mind. 

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 
-1 Samuel 15:22 NLT

Saul didn’t directly and completely obey God.  He did what he thought would be okay, instead of exactly what God commanded.

Sure.  Sacrifices and offerings seemed good.  God has asked for those before.  But God gave specific instructions for this specific time, and he expected direct and complete obedience.

So back to praying while drying my hair … as clear as day, God said to me in my spirit, “Christa, do you directly obey me? You have been enforcing this with your children at home.  But are you also obeying me the first-time I ask and completely?” 

Wow! Talk about His words being sharp! He cut to the core with that one.  There are several things I’ve been thinking and praying about that require God-sized answers.  I need to hear from Him before I do anything.  And I feel like He is causing me to evaluate my own obedience to Him from the past, present, and what He expects of me in the future, no matter how difficult or daunting the task may be.  He expects full obedience and submission!

Friends, as you seek the Lord, His word will change you.  It requires action.  And when He speaks, He expects us to listen and obey. 

God, today I desire to completely and directly obey you right away.  Show me all the ways that I have been disobedient.  I repent for my disobedience, Lord.  Make me right with you, Father, so our fellowship is unobstructed.  And help me to walk forward with you leading me that I may be a faithful, obedient follower.  I love you, Lord! Amen!

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