Aug 30, 2013

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-13:37
  • Saturday 8/3: 2 Samuel 13:38-14:33
  • Sunday 9/1: 2 Samuel 15:1-16:14

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls! I LOVE this day! No matter what my week has looked like, I celebrate this day with my family and we make it BIG!

Cinnamon rolls for breakfast. surprises in lunchboxes, after school milkshakes...anything to put the FUN in our Friday! :)

We are on Day 26 of our 40 Days of!!

I want to share with you what I have learned about prayer lately.

To pray for others. 

Yep, that's what I have learned.  Profound, huh? ;)

Let me explain.

Here's the way it has been working--or let me rephrase--here's the way God has been teaching me to pray:

When my marriage is struggling, or we hit a brick wall in communicating---I pray for a friends' marriage. 

When my heart was desiring more children, and we were in deep discussion about fostering....I prayed for fostering families that I knew. Daily.

When I am frustrated with my mothering skills {or lack of}, I pray for other mothers that I know. 

When I am feeling the tight stretch of our budget, I pray for someone else's finances and prosperity.

When I feel the tug and the desire to pursue women's ministry., I pray for other ministries that I know. 

When I desire more intimacy with the Lord, I pray for other hearts to desire Him with fervor.

When I struggle with fear, I pray for a friend struggling with fear. 

When I have an aching in my heart for something, I pray for the aching of another's heart to be fulfilled.

Are you following me here?

God is showing me that when we pour out our prayers for others---He pours right back into us. Every prayer, every time.

Our earnest and diligent prayers for others, in turn bring us peace and fulfillment. Those prayers end up blanketing right back over us. It doesn't even make sense in our human thinking, but it does in God's.

"And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. 
And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."
 Job 42:10

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, 
that you may be healed. 
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
 James 5:16

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

What is your biggest prayer request at this moment in your life?

Pray for someone that may need the same answer, or the same healing. 

Pray for them fervently today. Not just today, but until our 40 days of prayer is over.

I challenge you to write their names in a journal, on a note card, on your phone...whatever. 

Pray for them. Do not stop praying for them.

"Pray without ceasing"
1 Thessalonians 5:17

pray on,


Aug 28, 2013

Wednesday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 8, 9

Happy Worship Wednesday sweet SHINE girls!

Oh man, yesterday was a doozie and a half. I went in for a filling on a tooth and left with a crown. Yes, and not the fun sparkly type you wear on your head.

When the nice dentist told me the news, I cried right there in my chair. I then got up and went to the bathroom and cried a river.

My eyes were puffy and red. At least it matched my swollen lips and cheek. What a beautiful sight I must have been. :)

As soon as he told me the news, I started praying. Praying it would not be bad. Praying it would not cost a fortune. Praying that I would stop crying!

The Lord quickly reminded me of David. We had just read in Chapter 7 how David prayed and inquired of the Lord constantly.

He never did anything without checking with the Lord. Re-checking with the Lord, and then listening for His answer.

The Lord is teaching me through our reading, through our 40 days of prayer, through being in a dentist chair---that prayer needs to be my way of life.

Nothing should distract me from a living a praying life.


I wiped my tears, found my courage and strength from the Lord, and prayed that the Lord would be with me. Even in that dentist chair.

He was.

As soon as the dentist started the drilling, "Whom shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin came on the radio. Not kidding.

I smiled, even with the cotton ball hanging out of my mouth. I knew it was God telling me He was with me, and I had nothing to fear. Not even that annoying drill.

I survived. My tooth sports a not-so sparkling {temporary} crown, and all is well.

Why am I telling you this?

God wants us to know that NOTHING is too small or too big for Him. Nothing.

When we let Him into our moments--our mornings, our carpools, our work places, our kitchens, our dentist appointments, our schedules-- He comforts us. He gives us Peace.

"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

newly crowned,


Aug 27, 2013

The Winner is.....

Okay, SHINE Girls....

We have a SHINE Weekday Give-away Winner!!

My daughter, Presley, drew the winning name out of my white Tupperware bowl. ;)

"I Love Music!!!!! And singing even if I really can't sing good!!!
 MeLissa A"

Congratulations, MeLissa! You will LOVE this little SHINE Girls lunch bag from Thirty-One Designs!

A big, HUGE thank you to Neodesha Hendley for providing this awesome prize!

Stay tuned for the next give-away, girls! If YOU have something you would like to give-away to a fellow SHINE girl, email me and let me know!

MeLissa, please email me at shinegirlsshine at gmail dot com to claim your prize. ;)

Aren't give-aways the MOST fun?!

back to your day,


Aug 26, 2013

Monday SHINE......

Reading Plan for the week of 8/26-9/1:

  • Monday 8/26:  2 Samuel 5:17-6:23
  • Tuesday 8/27:  2 Samuel 7
  • Wednesday 8/28:  2 Samuel 8, 9
  • Thursday 8/29: 2 Samuel 10, 11
  • Friday 8/30: 2 Samuel 12:1-13:37
  • Saturday 8/3: 2 Samuel 13:38-14:33
  • Sunday 9/1: 2 Samuel 15:1-16:14

Good morning, SHINE girls! Sure hope your weekend was wonderful!

I cannot contain my excitement. I love 2 Samuel. Really, I do.

As I was driving home from my Mom's house this past Saturday, I found myself day-dreaming of David. I was twirling my hair as I drove, and dreaming of his heart for God. 

I came home and looked my sweet Lem in the face and said, "I think I'm in love. With David. From the Bible."

He replied: "Oh. David again. Here we go ."

It's not David's looks or his manly presence that attracts me to him. Nope. {'cause I haven't the faintest clue what he looked like. Nor do I care}

It's His love for God. His heart is hopelessly devoted to God. 

That's what I love. 

David was not perfect. By far.

Oh, but his faith, and his love for God.....was magnetic. It still is.
There's just something about a man that loves the Lord without abandon. A man that loves the Lord without a care in the world of what others around him think. 

For the past 2 years I have been praying a very specific prayer for my husband. One of the things that I pray  is that he will have a heart like David's. {this is a great prayer, girls--and Lem has a pretty amazing heart!}

The Bible says that David had a heart like "His". A heart like God's. 

22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him:
 ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
 he will do everything I want him to do.'
Acts 13:22

What more could you ask for?

So, the truth is this: The thing that makes David so attractive and so irresistible.... is the Lord in him. 

It's the character of the Father. The Grace, the Love, the Boldness, the Strength of God that makes us love David so much.

Okay, I will quit rambling about David.  Let's move on to our memory verse. :)

Our Monday Memory Verse:

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing Love,
 for I have put my trust in you."
Psalm 143:8

 Oh, and for the record--this Psalm was written by our very own David. He wrote it during the same time of history that we are reading right now in 2 Samuel. Don't you just love how God weaves all of this together for our yearning little hearts?

He's so faithful. 

putting my trust in Him,


**Don't forget to enter our SHINE give away! I haven't had a chance to draw a name yet, but will be doing it this week! Get your cute little name in the drawing! :)

Aug 23, 2013

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 1

Happy Fun Friday, sweet SHINE girls!

So, if you have noticed.....we are going back to the book of Samuel! Yes!!

We will continue on with the story of David...ummm, you know, my favorite male {besides Jesus} in the Bible. Oh, and get ready. 2 Samuel is even juicier than 1 Samuel.

2 Samuel  begins with David learning of the death of Saul. Oh, and get ready to be blown away by David's heart....again.

I love this man, David. I really do.

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

I want to celebrate our return to the book of Samuel today. Also, I want to celebrate YOU!

We are on day 19 of our 40 Days of Prayer...that is something to CELEBRATE! Oh, the Lord is doing BIG things on behalf of your precious prayers! He is!

So, how do we celebrate?

How about a SHINE give away?!

This little beauty was donated by our very own SHINE girls, Neodesha Hendley!

Neodesha is a Thirty-One gifts representative, and she had this lunch tote monogrammed for one very special SHINE girl!!

I just realized this gift goes hand in hand with my "making lunches" post from Wednesday. Oh, the Lord has a sense of humor. A big one!

Who will get this adorable lunch bag??

To enter: Just tell us something about your cute self--anything!

Here's an example: I could eat Mexican food every single day. Forever. :) Jill Hill

Got it, okay....go!

I will draw a name this weekend, so leave your comment soon!

happy lunch-bag-winning,


Aug 21, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Psalm 50

Happy Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls! I love Wednesdays! The week is rounding out, and the weekend is in full view. :)

Today, we worship the Lord! Turn up the praise music and sing LOUDLY to Him! Serenade Him with your love and your adoration. He's so worthy.

So, this week we are praying for our little hearts to forgive. We are praying for our hearts to let go of any stronghold of hurt that has held us captive.

Several things have popped up this week, that have made me realize just how many times a day we may need to forgive.

For example {you knew this was coming didn't you}, I was preparing the kids lunches yesterday afternoon. I try to do this the day before because mornings can be crrrraaaaazzzy.

As I was spreading the peanut butter and jelly on the bread, our sweet darling little 9 year old neighbor walked in our kitchen. {this is a typical day--kids in, kids out, kids in, kids out}

She saw me making lunches and she asked me why I was doing it now and not in the morning.  I told her it was just easier for me this way.

That sweet darling little girl then said this as she grinned from ear to ear: "Well, my Daddy makes our lunches every single morning. He's the BEST!"

My blood went cold for a second. I thought of Lem and how he is still snoozing and drooling on the pillow while I am running around like a crazy woman before the clock strikes 6:00 am.

I forced a smile back and looked down at this precious little grinning girl and said: "Well, aren't you lucky, little darling."

I wanted to call Lem and say, "Honey, guess what? ________makes his kids lunches....every single morning! Yes! He does! Why don't you give it a try?!"

However, I didn't say that to him.

Instead, I asked for forgiveness from the Lord for even thinking in this way. I quickly started remembering all of the things that Lem does do. He does so much. He works so hard. He is an awesome daddy to our kids. He is an incredible husband to me. He's just what I need.

I would not let my mind and heart become discontented over something so silly. Making lunches. Silly. {although it sure would be nice some days!}

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

My point is this: Something very trivial can throw us for a loop some days. A big loop. Let's get off the crazy loop.

Instead of letting our mind hold on to some yucky thoughts, let's nip them at the root before they even rise above the surface. Immediately ask the Lord for forgiveness if one of those thoughts pops up.

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

Kill those thoughts with thankfulness, contentment, and forgiveness.

back to packing lunches,


Aug 19, 2013

Monday SHINE....

Reading Plan for the week of 8/19-8/25:

  • Monday 8/19:  Psalms 46-48
  • Tuesday 8/20: Psalms 49
  • Wednesday 8/21:  Psalms 50
  • Thursday 8/22: Psalms 51
  • Friday 8/23:  2 Samuel 1
  • Saturday 8/24:  2 Samuel 2, 3
  • Sunday 8/25:  2 Samuel 4:1-5:16

Happy Monday, SHINE girls. I sure hope your weekend was wonderful!

If you live here in Georgia, it was probably full of RAIN and COLD. Not my favorite kind of weather, but I enjoyed extra indoor time with my peeps. ;)

We are on Day 15 of our 40 Days of Prayer. How are y'all doing with this?

I have to admit, I fell off the prayer wagon a little this weekend. However, I am back on that wagon today and fully committed to riding it out another 25 days! Why would I not pray??

Prayer brings peace. Prayer brings wisdom. Prayer brings stillness. Prayer brings answers.

Can I be really honest and tell you one reason I think we don't pray sometimes? Please don't hate me after saying this....

We need to forgive someone.

I believe our little hearts can be so wrought with this lack of forgiveness, that it separates us from our Father.

If you know me personally, you know this has played a big part of my faith walk with Christ. I was separated from the Lord for several months a couple of years ago, because of this very thing going on in my heart.

It was the deepest, darkest, time in my life.

Holding a grudge and holding back forgiveness separates us from hearing from Him, or feeling His Peace. Oh, don't get me wrong, He's still there, but He wants us to know that He's not okay with our heart condition. He wants us to search Him, seek Him, and cleanse ourselves from this sin.

I'm not a psychologist, and far from it. However, I know that we can do a couple of things when we are angry and hold a grudge.

  • We withhold our love.
  • We lash out in anger.
  • We build an impenetrable wall.
  • We bottle up the hurt, and it destroys us.

My thing in the past has been the first withhold my love.

The funny thing is, the only person I end up hurting is myself. Instead of lashing out in anger, I punish in other ways. Like being distant.

It's a cruel and vicious cycle we find ourselves in when we act in any of these ways towards others.

It's a way of self-protecting, I think.

We want to make sure we are not hurt again. We want to guard our hearts and keep anything out that can possibly damage it.

God showed me one day on my back porch, tears staining my cheeks, that the only way to truly forgive is to Love.

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, 
since love covers a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

He told me to pour all that hurt back out in Love, and my heart would return back to Him. Back to the soft and tender heart that He intends me to have.

Girls, this is the only way to free our hearts from the tangled web of holding a grudge. The only way.

Just a few months ago, I felt that same ping of needing to forgive.

My flesh went into defense mode, and I immediately decided I did not want to be around this person. I wanted to separate myself from them and think of every reason I could to alienate them from my life.

This makes me cringe to even write.

My heart was in the wrong place.

Then the Lord gently nudged me and told me to pray for this person. Not only to pray for them but to love them.....more. 

To forgive them, completely.

Praying for them was the only thing that healed the wound, my friends. It doesn't even make sense, but it works.

"Love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you." 
Matthew 5:44

This is certainly not what the world teaches. This is what God teaches. This is what He have to do in order to be followers of Christ, and to receive the fruit of His Presence, and His Peace.

When I was struggling with forgiveness a couple of years ago, on my back porch,  He showed me this verse..

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,
to mind your own business,
and to work with your hands"
1 Thessalonians 4:11

I didn't understand what it meant at first. "Lead a quiet life??" What does this have to do with forgiveness.

Oh, everything.

My mind was anything but quiet as I rehashed the hurt over and over. I would practice in my head what I would say to this person and how I could make them hurt back.{yes, cringing again}

He told me to quiet my mind, quiet my life, mind my own business, and to stay busy with other things---like my precious little family.

I was jolted back into place.

My mind had been consumed with this hurt, and peace was nowhere to be found.

When I quieted my mind with His Love, with His Word, and with prayer, everything changed.

I began praying for this person. Every. Single. Day.

God healed my heart. Completely.

As we go into this new week, let's be intentional to pray for those around us that we need to forgive.

It may be one person, it may be many people.

Maybe the wound is still fresh, maybe the wound is decades old.

It doesn't matter, just pray.

Pray, pray, pray, this week.

And forgive, this week.

Only through the strength of Christ are we able to pray for those who have hurt us. He then allows forgiveness to flood our little hearts, and the peace of Christ fills us.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, 
whose thoughts are fixed on you"
 Isaiah 26:3

Aren't we glad He is able? Oh, He is so able.

Be ready for some ice to melt around that heart of yours.

You will feel the warmth of His Peace, and you will never want it to leave you again.

"For if you forgive others their trespasses, 
your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses,
 neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 6:14-15

praying and forgiving this week,


Aug 16, 2013

Friday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Psalm 42, 43

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls!

Aren't you glad it's Friday? Me too!

Guess what? We are finished with Job! We read Psalms today, which is equivalent to jumping in cool water after baking in the sun all day {with Job}.

 No offense, Job, we were just ready to move on--and well, ya know, find a happier place.

So, speaking of needing some refreshment, I could sure use a little in the mornings with my little darlings. I mean, I have every intention of being sweet, kind, and doting in the mornings. It just doesn't always happen that way.

For example--just yesterday, one of my little darlings had a melt down. I won't tell you which one, but "she" was in rare melt-down form.

Oh yes.

I could feel my blood pressure rising. I began to quote every scripture on "taming my tongue" that I could scrounge up in my tangled-up bed-head. You know, like..."let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasant in Your sight", kind of stuff.

My flesh gave in. {I hate when this happens!}

I raised my voice {this may be an understatement}, and I definitely did not have pleasantness coming out of this mouth of mine. {this may be an understatement too}

My friend and I had just been comparing notes on our "unpleasant mornings" put it mildly. So, I was even aware that I was not the only momma on the planet having morning issues.

I then dropped the kids off at school, and felt that ping. You know the one.

The ping of..."I could have done better. I know better than to let my mouth overflow with such unpleasantness."

I hate that ping. Really, I do.

I wanted to turn back around, and start my day over again. This time, with my tongue tamed. Or even better, just cut my tongue right out.

Here's the thing...I had my quiet time with the Lord that morning. I prayed that morning. I had a good cup of coffee before the kids even woke up. So, what was my problem??

I think I know.

My problem was me, myself and I.

I had this idea of how I wanted my morning to go. However, I didn't realize that my sweet darlings under this roof had not gotten up an hour early for time with Jesus, they had not had an hour to pray, and they certainly did not have a cup of liquid consciousness. Oh no.

They were just being.

Being tired.

Being rushed.

Being kids.

Oh, and add being yelled at. {oops}

Okay, let me explain. I am not excusing the behavior of my little "melt-downer". However, I am the one that should set the example when she decides to win an award for "drama queen."

Am I teaching her anything when I explode right back?

Not really.

So, how does this post tie into our reading or tie into our memory verse?

It doesn't.

I just thought I needed to share what the Lord has been teaching me this week.

Maybe if I talk about it enough, it will stick with me. I will remember this post, and I will want to change the ending. A tamed tongue, a softer response.

So, your Fun Friday Challenge?

Do better than me. :)

Pause before responding.

Teach by example. Not just to your kids, but to all you come into contact with today.

I'm taking the challenge too. 'Cause, obviously I really need to. ;)

"Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."
Proverbs 16:24

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
 and those who love it will eat its fruits."
Proverbs 18:21

giving my tongue a rest,


Aug 14, 2013

Wednesday SHINE.....

Today's Reading:: Job 40:6-42:6

Happy Worship Wednesday, SHINE girls! Today is our day to turn up the music and WORSHIP our King!

Worship Him in song, in dance, in all you do today. He loves your sweet and precious little hearts singing, dancing, and praising Him with all your soul!

Get your kids involved. Let them know that today is WORSHIP WEDNESDAY! They will love celebrating Jesus with you! What kid doesn't want to sing and dance? :)

I wasn't planning on posting today. I had nothing to say. I was just planning on you getting your worship on all by yourselves today. However, God had other plans.

As I was cleaning my bathroom yesterday, I had a conversation with God. {what is it with cleaning and talking to God?}

I was pouring my heart out to Him. I was asking Him about some things going around me and I needed some answers.

"Lord, I need you here. I need you to help me in this. Are you listening? I need Your Peace. I need Your Guidance. Will you please make a way in this situation??"

As I was pouring my heart out to Him, I heard Him interrupt me. Oh yeah. He sure did.

"Jill, Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying,
"This is the way; walk in it."

Umm, I know this Lord. This is our memory verse. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this already.

Lord, I need you to help me. I need you to make a way in this situation. Make it better. Make it easier.

As clear as you are reading this, I heard Him say to me, "You are exactly where I want you to be in this. There is no easy path. In the messy, in the chaos, in the struggle....I am with you. You are where I want you to be right now. Quit trying to find a way out, you are right where I want you. I am showing you that this is the way, so keep walking in it. Even when it's hard."

Okay. I was silent. For a long time.

My mind had to process what He just said.

Suddenly, Peace like a river flooded my spirit. It hit me, like a ton of bricks.

He was teaching me to let Him sustain me.

No matter what chaos surrounds us, He never changes. He never moves. He never leaves.

He's our anchor. We cannot drown.

Are you getting this?

Do you find yourself looking for a way out of a situation? Counting down the days until it's over and you move on to the next season?

What would happen if you just were still. Even as the debris of the mess flies around your head, you were still. Eyes focused on Him. Trusting Him. Being sustained by Him.

Trust Him when He shows you the way to walk, and it's not the path you would have chosen. By far.

When we are always waiting for the storm to pass, we cannot appreciate what He's teaching us in the eye of that storm.

We don't really know how much we need our Anchor until we are in the midst of a storm..

I pray that you will let Him sustain you today. Whatever you may be facing, He is with you.

He's never left you.

embracing my Anchor,


Aug 13, 2013

Tuesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Job 38:1-40:5

Happy Tuesday, SHINE friends!

We have a very special guest post today. Melanie has quite a testimony of faith to share with us. She sent this to me a few weeks ago as we were discussing fear.

I prayed about when to post this, and it seems today is the day. :) Someone out in the SHINE world needs to hear this.

You may want to grab a Kleenex or ten, because you will need them.

Be blessed to day by Melanie's post.

Josie Hope
by: Melanie Hall

Hello Sweet Women!

I pray that each of you is having a wonderful week filled with strength from the Lord!  I have been out of the SHINE loop for quite some time.  This week as I was reading about fear and strength from the Lord I realized that I have the perfect story to share with you.  This story was written in my blog on November 11th 2012. 

March 4, 2010 the Lord changed our lives with a little boy that never took a breath. At that time and the time since Bennett's birth and death, it has been made clear time and time again that the Lord used Him for the glory of His Kingdom. We have never questioned God, though we have been angry with Him. He never once let us wonder if Bennett's short lived life in the womb was only for loss and sadness. He always made it clear to us that Bennett had a purpose as his story touched the lives of the ones close to us and around us. We watched as hearts were changed, as salvation and the fear and love of God were brought forth to people who otherwise still may be lost. And we rejoiced as our boy brought glory to God as He rocked him to sleep each night. I have talked a lot about Bennett. I have spoken of how God changed our hearts, our faith, and our marriage with that sweet tiny person. Never did I once realize that He was preparing us for something else, something greater, something harder, something more miraculous than we ever imagined. His sister.

March 4, 2010 changed my life. It was scary, and sad and traumatic and truthfully there are really no words to describe what it did to my heart. I was certain that the giant hole that was left there would never be matched. That the fear and recovery would always be what I considered "the hardest days of my life". November 8, 2012 I learned otherwise. So today I sit in a bed, tired, sorer than I even knew I could be, emotionally spent as I pump breast milk that is one of many miracles that I have witnessed over the last four days, but not the biggest. I sit here and I try to think of how to tell you all what has happened and I realize it is another story that is hard to tell, hard to believe, hard to grasp. But I am going to try because all of you have loved us through the hardest days of our lives....and they just got harder.

The morning of November 8, 2012 was not fun. We were exhausted from the night before because I had been up all night feeling bad. We were convinced that this was a result of them taking me off the meds that were preventing contractions. We had to come off of those meds because the one side effect that "seldom" happens had happened and my sweet girl was living in a sac with no amniotic fluid. So as we struggled through the night and the morning Doc called the doctor that had been helping us since our first trip to the Maternal ER, Dr. Dobay. Thankfully he answered and they talked through some symptoms and decided I would stay home and tough it out. Doc called in half a day because the contractions were not ceasing. It only took about ten minutes for me to realize and one look for him to realize that we had to go in. And so we did. The ride was quick, we obviously knew the way, and only at the very end did I realize we were in big trouble.

I'll be honest with you. I had no idea that they would even give her a chance. We were 24 weeks to the day and though her heart was still beating it was low, I was dilating and the placenta had almost fully abrupted. I was checking out into my happy place preparing to deliver another baby that would go straight to Jesus. Only this one would be bigger, stronger, and would have touched my heart in a completely different way. The term emergency c section came up immediately. So immediately in fact, that Doc's truck was still on the curb running when they started prepping me. I asked one question, "will I be okay through the surgery" the answer was yes and there was absolutely no hesitation to try and save her. I looked at my strong, beautiful husband and he nodded. Off we went into a scene out of Grey's Anatomy. Doctors everywhere, running me through the hallway, a neonatal team already scrubbed in and waiting (how they did it that fast is beyond me), people screaming orders at each other and saying "hurry" "now" "faster". It was scary, hard, painful, by far the most physically traumatizing ten minutes of my life. They kept telling me what they were doing and saying they knew it was scary. I was not scared. I was not worried. I was not crying. I was hanging out with Jesus and saying to Josie "you fight, I'll fight. You fight, I'll fight". And then they put me to sleep.

I have never been so happy to be asleep in my entire life and honestly will tell you that the surgery was harder on Josie and her daddy than it was me, I was asleep. She was born at 9:18 am, 24 weeks gestation, eyes wide open, took one small cough. She was born out of a fully abrupted placenta with no blood in her lungs and minimal in her stomach, an absolute miracle. I woke up about an hour later, Doc right by me as usual, and my first words were "is the baby alive", he said yes. I breathed a thank you to Jesus and our world changed forever.

I have spent four days recovering. She has spent four fighting. My family, my husband, my world has spent four days trying to grasp our new normal. I woke up today and I realized Bennett changed our lives, our faith, our marriage, our parenting. And he prepared us for Josie. You see my friends, though this is more than we ever imagined and words like hard and scary don't even touch on it, we are so grateful for that tiny little girl and every breath she takes. We have already buried a tiny person. We have already sent one straight to Jesus that we never saw take a breath, move, that we never touched, that never heard his daddy talking to him or felt his mama stroke his head. And she has. Yesterday, I changed her diaper. Bennett never even wore a diaper.

So Praise be to Jesus for this baby girl. I will not question. I will not be angry or frustrated. I will not complain or cry about how hard it is. I will only worship harder, blown away at what He has done for us and the miracles that have happened to get her here. I eat and I will pump and I will heal and I will pray. We will take care of our girls here and the one that lives at Centennial Hospital everyday praising Him from the rooftops for all three of them.

I ask you, again, to pray for us. You have all been so amazing through our last few years and I am going to have to ask you to stand with us one again. Please pray for our hearts, our family and most of all our tiny girl. Please praise Him as you pray thanking Him for her and every day she grows stronger. Please put Josephine Hope Hall on every list, in every offering plate, in every prayer box. The Halls

And so began the scariest, hardest 106 days of my life.  106 days of praying, crying, and begging Jesus to let me keep this beautiful little girl.  Josie weighed 1 lb. 4 oz.  At three weeks old she had open heart surgery. She had 8 blood transfusions and was on a ventilator for 8 weeks.  Twice we were sure she would go home to Jesus.  Talk about scared!!!  Talk about fear.  Oh my sweet friends it was the most exhausting, scariest time of my life.  And so I prayed over and over.  Each time telling Him “ if you take her home to be with her brother I will still love you and I will still worship you with my whole being”.  Each time telling Him I knew in my heart that HE knew what was best even if I never understood it!

Now I will tell you the end of my story written months ago.  As I am typing I have a beautiful set of the bluest eyes you have ever seen staring up at me as she slobbers all over my arm.

Our Josie Hope

Josie's mommy, daddy, and sisters
  Yes my friends, she is home, she is perfect, and He is faithful!  We witnessed the greatest miracle we have ever seen.  A baby that was finished by the Lord outside of her mother’s womb.  A baby that has touched and changed hundreds of lives with her strength and story. It was the single most incredible experience I have ever been through.  A lot of us are mothers.  And if you are anything like me your greatest fears revolve around your babies!  He does know best my friends.  His timing is perfect and He will carry you through whatever He gives you.  Lean, lean, lean, on Jesus ladies!! He is there holding you up!!


Aug 12, 2013

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the week of 8/11-8/18:

  • Monday 8/12:  Job 36, 37
  • Tuesday 8/13:  Job 38:1-40:5
  • Wednesday 8/14:  Job 40:6-42:6
  • Thursday 8/15:  Job 42:7-17
  • Friday 8/16:  Psalms 42,43
  • Saturday 8/17:  Psalms 44
  • Sunday 8/18:  Psalms 45
Happy Monday, sweet SHINE girls! We are on Day 8 of our 40 Days of Prayer!

What a week last week was. It was a Doozie...with a capital D.

School started back, my son had a birthday, and my emotions were spewing all over the place. On top of all of that, several things happened that week to put me in a serious tail spin.

Prayer saved me last week. It truly did.{and several praying friends that I am beyond blessed to have surrounding me}

Every single time I wanted to react out of my flesh or my emotions, I heard: "devote yourself to prayer and be watchful and thankful."

I didn't like remembering our verse to be honest. I was sad, frustrated, and just pure flesh at times. 

Going to prayer was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I did.

I kept hearing the Lord say to my spirit, "Talk to me, Jill. Just talk to me. You can't do this without me."

Praying eased my mind, brought peace, and calmed my emotions. It didn't necessarily take away the trial, however it sure equipped me to handle it better.

So, as I think about our Memory verse this week, I keep going back to this verse. I heard it over and over last week as I prayed. God was reminding me to seek Him in prayer. To walk in prayer.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you saying,
"This is the way; walk in it."
Isaiah 30:21

As I experienced the turmoil of my emotions last week, I kept hearing this verse. He was telling me to walk in the way of prayer. He knows it's what I need to sustain me. 

Why don't I always remember this?

Hence, the 40 days of Prayer. 

It forces me to remember. To be intentional. To pray.

listening, heeding, and walking,


Aug 9, 2013

Friday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: Job 30, 31

Happy Fun Friday, SHINE girls!

We are on Day 5 of our 40 days of Prayer! Are you loving it? Me too!

I hope you are finding extra time in your days to take advantage of praying. It truly is life changing. Prayer forces us to reign in our thoughts and give them to our Father in Heaven.

Sometimes it is really hard to reign those thoughts in when we are going a million miles an hour each day. I know you are shaking your head in agreement. :)

As women, our brains process a whole lot of information throughout the day. We make thousands of decisions. It's really exhausting at times, isn't it?

When we can push the pause button on all of that and pray, we are transformed. The Peace of God rushes in like a river. Every single time.

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Today, give up something that you would normally do and devote that time to prayer. It can be something as simple as reading a magazine, watching a t.v. show, listening to music in the car....anything.

Last Friday, I took this same challenge. I decided to stick with it until the end of this month. I gave up two things in order to stay distraction-free from my prayer time.

The bible says this in Song of Solomon 2:15: "Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom."

Have you heard this verse before? You may have heard it like this, "it's the little foxes that spoil the vine."

It is SO true. Sometimes it is not the BIG things that can draw us away from God, but the little, everyday, mundane things. Those are what can be dangerous.

Little minutes of time add up to a lifetime of shaping and molding who we become. For the good, or for the not so good.

Pray and ask the Lord what you can give up today to devote your time in prayer to Him. He will gladly show you. You will probably not even miss it! The Peace and Joy you will feel will outweigh the loss of what you gave up today.

Father, we long to be with you. We long to sit in Your Presence. Show us how to make the best of our time today. Guide us and lead us to You in each moment of our day. Give us the wisdom to decide what we should give up in order to focus more on You today. Tune our hearts to You, and keep our minds free from distraction.  Thank You, we love You. Amen.



Aug 7, 2013

Wednesday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Job 25,26,27

Happy Worship Wednesday SHINE girls!

We are on Day 3 of our 40 Days of Prayer! Are you loving this prayer journey, or what?

I love being intentional. It keeps me focused on Him. My mind tends to wander...a lot. :)

Today, I have a have a special post  from a very precious SHINE girl.

Tammy is rather new to our little site, but she has been letting the Lord have His way with her heart! She has been such an encouragement to me as well. Her words of love, support, and affirmation have touched me more than she could ever possibly know. {well, now you know!} :-)

Be blessed today by Tammy's post. God is doing a HUGE work in her heart and it's a beautiful thing.

My story
by Tammy Downs

Tammy and her beautiful family

I sent Jill an email a little while ago thanking her for this wonderful group she began.  I told her it saved my life.  While I didn’t mean that in the physical sense, I certainly did emotionally and spiritually.  She asked if I would consider sharing my testimony and I was embarrassed and hesitant.  I’m not well-versed in His word at all.  I didn’t even know where I would start.  Then this came to me:   
  Hello, my name is Tammy and I’m a selfaholic. 

Sounds funny, I know!  It is true, though!  And I didn’t even know the extent of it until I read my first post on SHINE GIRLS!

Many of you might understand the progression of this selfaholism.  I was raised in God’s word by a man with a Bible and a hard hand.  I soon began to believe you only needed to pay attention to God on Sundays or when Stepdad said so.  God was to be feared, not celebrated.  I suppose after the Lord blessed me with my escape from that life, I felt I was deserving of a perfectly wonderful future.  See where this is going?
Every silly breakup with a boyfriend, my disaster of a first marriage, our son’s autism diagnosis…”Why me?  I’m a good person.  Haven’t I been through enough?”  If I weren’t feeling such a strong push to write this, I’d stop here from my shame.

But I can’t stop because our Lord has been after me desperately the past two years to break my addiction.  He called an intervention in a big way, too.  Circumstances led us indirectly to some of your fellow SHINE GIRLS.  It was a situation completely unrelated to SHINE but I understand now.  Through them, this website, Jill and the very personal ways He’s been touching my life, I’m finally able to admit my problem.
Life won’t be perfect.  It won’t always be without sorrow.  Yes, there will be pain.  There will also be unending, undeniable love.  God made us all perfect in His eyes and loves even the broken parts of us completely.   Knowing that…feeling it is making all the difference in my life.

So back to how I’m breaking this sickness of mine.  He led me to watch a show the other day.  I wouldn’t normally have been watching it but I’m learning not to question when He leads me.  In it an angel was counseling a distraught woman whose love had just been killed in an accident.  She asked, “If God is so good, why didn’t He save him?  Why wasn’t He there?”  The angel answered that God and His angles are always with us whispering in our ears.  An angel was with that drunk driver whispering to him not to drink and drive.  But God loves us so much that He gave us free will.  Sometimes we choose not to listen.  SOMETIMES WE CHOOSE NOT TO LISTEN.  How about decades of not listening?  Think He was trying to make a point?!

This angel also said (this is the “good person” part) while you’re waiting for God’s blessings, you must give your love to others freely and without expectations.  Yeah, there it is.  Haven’t we all given at one point or another to get something?  It might be notoriety or envy…I was even hesitant to write this because I worried about my motive for it.

So I’m already listening.  He’s asking me to step out of my comfort zone A LOT.  I understand why now.  I’m also starting to understand the giving.  It’s not simply volunteering to help at bible school or the PTO.  It’s seeing someone obviously having a bad day and giving them a smile and a “hello”.  It’s that random act of kindness you don’t post on Facebook.  Those are the gifts we need to give the world and what needs to become second nature for me in order to recover.

 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”   Titus 2:11-14 

Taking it day by day,

Aug 5, 2013

Prayer Requests and Praises for August 2013....

Please leave your prayer requests/praises for August under this post.

We began our 40 days of Prayer this month. I challenge you to participate.

August 5th-September 13th.

 Jump in!

Pray. Pray. Pray.

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing.
 In everything give thanks;
 for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday SHINE.....

Reading Plan for the week of 8/5-8/11:

  • Monday 8/5:  Job 20, 21
  • Tuesday 8/6:  Job 22-24
  • Wednesday 8/7:  Job 25-27
  • Thursday 8/8: Job 28-29
  • Friday 8/9:  Job 30, 31
  • Saturday 8/10:  Job 32, 33
  • Sunday 8/11: Job 34, 35

Happy Monday, sweet SHINE girls! I sure hope your weekend was a good one. 

As we approach a new week, my heart is in a tender place. For several reasons.

On this day 12 years ago, I was in labor with my oldest child, Joseph. 

Although it has been 12 years, sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. I can still smell the hospital triage room where my Joseph was delivered. The small, cramped little space. All of the delivery rooms were taken, so Joseph was delivered in a tiny room to the right of the reception desk. 

That story sounds familiar doesn't it? No room at the inn? ;)

August 5th, 2001 my life changed forever. I became a Mother.

I never knew how desperately I needed God until that very day. I was helpless without Him. 

My prayer life changed. My life was no longer about me and my new handsome husband. 

Life was now about this child, and being his Momma, and praying daily that I would not mess him up. I am so serious.

I remember many nights looking down at him in my arms, praying for him, tears streaming down my face. I was completely in awe of this bundle of wonder lying in my shaky arms.

So, this day floods many emotions into my heart. I long for those early days with him in my arms, yet I love watching my son grow into the man that God is molding him to be. 

Happy Birthday to my sweet Joseph!

With the turn of his birthday also begins a new year of school. Change. And more change.

As we get into the school groove, I am reminded once again, how I need to be seeking the Lord more in prayer. Constant, vigilant, prayer.

As we read the book of Job, my heart aches for Job. I already know the story ends well. However, I hate seeing him go through such turmoil and pain.

 I know Job was a praying man. He had to be. He trusts God. He believes God. He never turns away from God.

 "Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;  I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Job 19:23-27

We can learn a lot from our friend Job. I believe Job was strong and faithful because of his relationship with the Lord. How did this relationship get to be so tight?

I think it was prayer

Job spent time with God. He knew God. He knew God well.

I want that. 

With a new school year beginning, I feel led to start another 40 Days of Prayer. 

We did this last year. Remember? It was life changing. For many of us.

Today will be our Day One. 

Put it on your calendar, a reminder on your phone, a sticky note on your desk...something to remind you.

We will start today, August 5th, and end September 13th.

I know you precious girls already pray. This is just a reminder to pray more. Fill those spare moments in the car, in the shower, blow drying your hair...fill them with prayer. 

Our Memory Verse will remind you:

|"Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful."
Colossians 4:2

day one,


Aug 3, 2013

Saturday SHINE....

Happy Saturday, SHINE girls! 

I hope your week of "being still" has been fruitful. It sure has opened my ears and my heart to hear from the Lord. 

A few days ago, my friend Lynn from our SHINE girls small group at church, emailed me this post.

It brought tears to my eyes for several reasons. Lynn is a little on the quiet side at small group. Always listening. Not always speaking. 

So, when I received this from her, I was blown away by what God was showing her in her stillness this week.I was also blown away by her boldness and obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write this and to email it to me.

Be blessed by Lynn's post today, sweet friends. 

Being still
by: Lynn Rodriguez

Lynn's beautiful family!

Speaking of being still…  I have been wrestling with God on some things I have been struggling with off and on for a few months now.  I have had trouble being still and letting God speak to me.  Well, I finally gave up and let Him speak some truth into my soul!  In not being still, I allowed God’s peace slip from my heart.  I “forgot” that He is ALWAYS in control.  I was missing out on the reassurance that He has “got it” as always.  In not being mindful of this, I was allowing Satan to replace my God given peace with his lies, giving me an unsettled spirit.  

At the root of my anxiety was the state of our world, our country.  It is corrupt to the core.  In reality, this is nothing new, but it seems to be hitting home more than ever.  Things that are happening here, used to happen more in other parts of the world. 

We, as a country, have been hit hard with some tough stuff over the past several years with economic hardships, political scandals, racial tensions, and even terrorist attacks. 

I ponder the long term effects of these events and worry about the future of this country and the future my children will face. 

Well, during my recent reading, God gave me some re-assurance.  He showed me again where my peace comes from in reminding me that He is the one in control.  It comes from Ephesians, Chapter 1.  Verse 20 starts with this:  All this energy issues from Christ:  God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule.  And not just for the time being, but forever.  He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.  

This was a reminder to me that WE may not like what goes on, but there is a purpose for it.  There is a plan that is being carried out.  We don’t understand why people are suffering, why people are struggling, why there is hate.  We don’t always understand His ways but His ways are perfect.

So, maybe God is working on me in more than one way.  How do I make the best of this life God has so richly blessed me with? How do I let God SHINE through ME in a world that is riddled with hard times and injustice?  For me, I believe it means that I wake up every day and be thankful for it all, to find joy in it all, and to help others do the same.  I also believe that it means loving others.  ALL others!  God commands us to love and serve others, period.  Not just if we like them or they look like us, or they are related to us.  We have to love people, even when our flesh tells us not to.  Honestly, this is hard!  Going against our flesh usually is. 

I feel that God is pressing on me to share this reminder as well.  We need to remember that, as Christians, we do not allow our political differences, our racial differences, cultural differences, our religious differences, etc., to keep US from being who God calls us to be.  We have to be mindful not to condemn or judge others because it is not our place.  We simply need to live a life of compassion and love, not allowing differences to dictate how we treat others.  I love how my church’s mission statement pretty much sums it up:  Love God, Love People, Reach the world.  When we do this, we will naturally SHINE for HIM 

Resting in His Reassurance,


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