Jul 30, 2019

When your "calling" is fuzzy......

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This post came to me in the middle of the dark night. I woke up with the title on my lips. 

Sometimes the Lord speak to us as we sleep. Possibly because our hearts and minds are quiet and free from distractions. 

A common prayer I pray over my family is for God to speak to us as we sleep. I ask Him to impart dreams, desires, wisdom, thoughts, knowledge into our minds and hearts. 

He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. Job 33:15


A question I am always asking the Lord is, "what is my calling, Lord? what is my purpose?"

I get this antsy feeling sometimes that maybe there is something I need to be doing that I am not. Maybe I have missed out on the greatest calling of my life because I was not listening when He called me. 

Waves of fear crash over me at times that when I get to Heaven He will shake His head at me and tell me that He had so much more for me, but I never listened to Him and discovered it. 

When these thoughts come, I have to immediately take those thoughts captive and hold them up to the Truth of God's Word. 

Jesus boldly told the questioning Pharisees, when He was asked what the greatest commandment was....

 "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.” Matthew 22:37-40

So, more than our occupation. More than our gifts and offerings. More than our talents and desires. More than our great knowledge of the Bible....

We are to Love. 

Love God. 

Love others. 

Without these, nothing else matters. 

We can devote our lives to sharing the gospel and miss the mark here. 

So my question to all of us is this....

How well are we loving others?

Loving God is the easy part. 

Yes, we love God. Of course we do!

But, how well are we loving others?

In our busy culture, we find it easier to connect with those we love due to technology. 

However, how much of a sacrifice of love does that take?

Time is love. 

When we take the time to see each other face to face. To listen to each other free from distractions. To genuinely encourage and support each other. To ask each other with all sincerity, "how are you doing?" and really mean it. 

Loneliness is at an all time high among our younger generation. Screen time has taken the place of relationships. Anxiety has become the buzz word and therapists are common among our youth. 

Adults are also lonelier than ever. We have more anxiety and depression than ever recorded before. 

So, what is the deal?

We are pushing our children and ourselves to find our "calling". Find our purpose. Fulfill our destiny. 

Books upon books upon books are written on success. And fulfillment. And keys to happiness. 

When Jesus took a detour from his journey and sought out the woman at the well, we see what love looks like. 


We see Jesus seeking the lost. Seeking the lonely. Seeing the sinner. Seeking the shunned. 

It is so easy to hang out with people that have it all together, or seem like they do. It makes us look better and feel better. 

Jesus did the exact opposite. 

Jesus was about the individual, not the crowd. 

Maybe we have it all backwards. Maybe, just maybe, it is much more simple than we think. 

If the greatest commandment is to Love God and Love others....then isn't that our calling?

To seek the one. Not the many. 

I have been on the receiving end of love like this from a few dear people. 

They reach out. They ask questions. They speak truth. They take the time. 

Today, let's look for an opportunity to love like this. 

To look for the "woman at the well", so to speak. 

Ask God to lead you and show you. 

Someone needs a listening ear. A touch. A hug. An encouraging word. 

Our calling is to Love. 

Pure and simple. 

Search no more. 



going to the well, 



jill

Jul 26, 2019

But, I don't want to....

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"Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 Matthew 20:26-28

Some days I have about twelve topics for posts that I have running through my little brain. I will write down notes and scriptures to remind me when I finally get to write. Sometimes I even write on the mirror [with a dry erase marker] in my bathroom as I am putting on my makeup. Good stuff happens right there at my bathroom vanity. Who knew such spiritual things could happen as you apply your mascara?

Usually, when I do finally sit down and write, the Lord leads me in an entirely different direction. Which always makes me think, "Oh, Okay, Lord. I get it. That whole lesson I was going to write about wasn't for anybody but myself. Right? Got it."

Well, this post is for all of us, I suppose. 

My daughter and I were out walking recently in our neighborhood. It was early in the morning and there was a slight chill in the Autumn air. I had worn my jacket and had reminded her several times to bring hers as well. She told me for the fourteenth time that she would not need a jacket. Okay then. 

Five minutes or less into our walk, she said she was cold. I turned my head so she couldn't see me furiously roll my eyes. A few times. [yep, sure did]

I knew she would get cold. I even told her so. 

We were already a good distance from the house and I did not want to go back to the house to get her coat. Really, just because I wanted to prove a point. I was right. She was wrong. She needed to learn a lesson.

Really mature, aren't I. 

A few seconds after I had these less than graceful thoughts, I heard this scripture in my heart, "'The Son of Man did not come to serve, but to be served." 

Seriously, it came like a bolt of lightening to my heart. UGHHHH. 

I knew what I needed to do. But, I didn't want to do. 

Again, I hear Words straight from scripture to my [shivering] heart, "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." Romans 7:15

Paul wrote those words in the book of Romans. Paul gets me!! Listen to the scripture following this one.."For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:18b

So, there I was walking with my daughter. I knew she was cold. I knew I should give her my jacket even though I didn't think she deserved it. But, I didn't want to give it to her. I wanted to teach her a lesson. Furthermore, I didn't want to be cold!

I pictured Jesus in my head. I pictured us walking together and what He would do if I were to get cold. 

It was pretty clear what He would do. He would strip Himself of every piece of clothing to make me warm. 

Am I a follower of Jesus? I sure want to be. 

So, if I want to follow Him, I must do what He would do. 

Paul then goes on to say in the book of Romans this little ditty:

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14

I took off my jacket. The wind ripped right through my shirt .

My daughter was surprised that I handed it right over to her. 

She smiled hesitantly and said, "Wow, Momma. Thank you so much."

My daughter learned a sweeter lesson than my words ever could have taught her that brisk morning. 

She learned what serving looks like. When it's not convenient. When it's not what you want to do. When it's going to make you feel uncomfortable. 

Serving is putting another's well-being above your own. Every single time. 

Whew. It is not always easy. 

However, I have learned a secret in serving others. Want to hear it?

The more we serve others, the easier it gets. The sweeter it gets. 

There is also another miraculous thing that happens when we serve others....

We are served by God. 

Here is what I mean by this...

He pours into us when we pour out. Every single time!

One Summer I was struggling with panic and fear really, really bad. I had told my husband that I was going to get back on medicine although I did not want to. I was devastated that I was going to have to take medicine again. During this time an opportunity came for me to serve with a dear friend at a place in town with underprivileged children. 

We poured our hearts into these precious souls that Summer. It was life-changing. More for us than for them. 

At the end of the Summer, I realized that I had not had ONE fearful moment. NOT ONE. Y'all, this was HUGE for me. HUGE.

I was so caught up with helping these precious children that I didn't have a moment to think about myself and my suffering. 

God had poured every last ounce of refreshment back into me that I had poured out that Summer. 

Not only that, but at the end of that Summer, a miracle occurred. Something that my husband and I had been praying about for YEARS came into fruition. In an amazing way. 

Do you see this?

We were created to serve. When we serve, we are fulfilling God's design for us! 

As we serve others, He serves us. 

His way is the complete opposite of the world's teaching. The world tells us to put ourselves first. 

God tells us that in order to be great, we must be a servant. 

I love the way this looks. I picture us bent down washing feet, just as Jesus washed His disciple's feet. 

Jesus, the Son of God, a servant. It makes no sense, does it?

Oh, but that's why it's so miraculous. 

I challenge all of us to be intentional about serving. 

Look for ways every second to serve in what you are doing. 

As I was brushing my teeth yesterday, [again in my bathroom], I was thinking of a way to serve my husband in a way that would bless him. Want to know what I did? I cleaned the goo off of his electric toothbrush. Yes, gross, but true. I don't think he has noticed yet, but that is not that point. ;)

As I was making my breakfast that same morning, I noticed there was only enough milk for one bowl of cereal. I wanted that cereal! [If you know me, you know it's true] I used that as  an opportunity to serve Lem. He got the bowl of cereal. He never even knew I had left him the milk. [although I really wanted to tell him how I had served him!] 

But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3

Warning: Serving does not come naturally, as Paul says in Romans. However, the more we use this serving muscle, the stronger it gets. 

Let's go and serve. What do you say?


buying more milk today,


jill


(re-post from 10/18/15)

Jul 23, 2019

Going Dark.....

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For the last several days, I have gone dark. 

Translation=no social media. 

I deleted my Instagram, my connection to the "world". 

This is not the first time I have done this. I have taken breaks, even really long breaks before. 

Here's what I have discovered when I quiet my world....

I pray more. Like a LOT more. 

I am more present. 

I listen to my husband and kids more. 

Again, because I am present. 

I write more. Hello, blog. 

I read more. Like a TON more. 

I listen to Christian Podcasts, or my Bible app. more. 

I judge less. 

I am agitated less. 

I complain less. 

I compare less. 

I desire less. 


These are just a few things that I have noticed each time I log off for a while. 

My reason for logging off this time was because of something my 17 year old son said in the car one day. 

I was telling my husband about someone on Instagram, who I don't even know very well.  I was describing some of their posts and making judgmental comments about this person. 

I had found myself secretly rolling my eyes when I read a post from this person. 

My son spoke up and said, "Mom, you wouldn't feel this way if you were not on Instagram. You are judging someone that you do not even know that well. Is that really good?"

Side note--it never ever feels good when your child points out a lack of judgment in your life. But, it sure makes an impact. 

My son was absolutely right. 

I prayed about his words. I asked God to forgive me for being quick to judge. 

The next day, I deleted the Instagram app from my phone. 

Here is the thing about me--I cannot just "not look at it". It won't work. I will be lured back in. 

I have to just delete the app so that I won't be tempted to log back on. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Instagram. It can definitely be a tool of witness. 

However, it can also do damage to our hearts (and to others) if we are not careful. 

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

How do we make the "most of every opportunity?"

Sometimes, it may look like removing something from our lives that can make us stumble. Or make us distracted.

My friend Lisa, said something recently that really resonated in my heart. 

She said, I find myself asking, what is the wiser choice here?

Wow. What perspective. 

What if we asked ourselves this on the regular. 

When we find ourselves "bored" or just trying to fill the time through idleness....

Maybe we could ask ourselves...."What is the wiser choice here? How can I make the most of this opportunity?"

That moment in the car was eye and heart opening for me. 

I am not normally a bitter or judge-y person. I love people. ALL people. 

So, what happened to make my heart and mouth say such things about someone I did not even really know?

I think when our hands are idle, we let the guard down on our hearts. 

13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 1 Timothy 5:13

We are not actively guarding our hearts and sure enough, the enemy will find a way to creep in and take up space. 

If we are to remain online, we must guard our hearts. We must take those thoughts (and eyeballs) captive to the obedience of Christ. 

So, Instagram and I are on a break. 

Who knows how long it will last. 

I just know that I need a re-set. 

My heart desperately longs to do the "wiser" thing in all areas of my life. 

Those pockets of time can be filled differently. With more prayer. More bible reading. More listening. More checking on my elderly neighbors. 

Just more.

What about you? Is there an area in your life that you may need to ponder the "wiser" choice?

If unsure, ask the Lord. He will certainly let you know.  He may just speak it through one of your children. :)



scrolling less, 


jill






















Jul 19, 2019

Speak Less....

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2

I read this scripture in the car yesterday with my kids. We talked about what it meant. We gave examples of how we and others are inclined to share their opinions. Even when not asked. 

In the digital age of social media, and internet platforms, it is very hard NOT to air our opinions. We often think the world needs to know what we have to say. 

But, that is not always the case. So often, God's Word teaches us to hold our tongues. Even telling us that fools are thought wise when they keep their mouths shut. [Proverbs 17:28] Wow. 

When we speak/post/share before wisely thinking it through, it affects others. Not always for the good.

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21

It takes discipline and lots of prayer and wisdom to hold our tongues. I have not perfected it and have a very long way to go. 

However, I want to be wise. I want to be more understanding, and I want to be a listener instead of constantly talking/sharing/posting. 

Since I love to write, I often will post things on Instagram just to get the words out. However, I have to be careful with my words. 

Others are watching. And listening. And taking it all in. 

Do my words honor God or am I just trying to get my point across. 

This has been my struggle with social media. If we are not careful it can become self-focused and self-centered. And self-promoting. 

We can also become a stumbling block to others. Paul pointedly speaks of this in the book of Romans. 

13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Romans 14:13

I recently posted pictures of a vacation my family and I were on. A few weeks later, I asked the Lord to please not let those pictures be a stumbling block to others. 

The only reason I knew to pray this was because I have felt that way when coming across posts. It is not necessarily our intention to make others feel this way, but we still must seek wisdom before we act. 

Social media is just a glimpse of the good days. Often filtered so much that the truth barely squints through. 

Listen closely. I am not saying that we have to be afraid to post a picture or talk. I am just saying that we need to become wiser and more thoughtful about the way things will come across a filtered screen. 

Like it or not, others are watching. Always watching and taking it in. 

A dear friend called me about an hour ago saying this exact thing. She reminded me that even when we think no one is listening or watching, someone always is. 

For those of us on the older spectrum--young girls and young mothers are watching. Learning. 

How are we behaving online and offline? 

Would we want our daughters doing what we do? 

If not, let's do better. 

Let's speak less and listen more. 

Let's lead by our actions and not just our words. 

Being a Christian in today's culture is a high calling. We cannot take it lightly. God has called us specifically to this era of time for such a time as this. 

What an honor it is, and we must make the most of every opportunity. 


listening more, 


jill










Jul 18, 2019

Letter to the wives....


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(re-post from 7/22/15)

A few weeks ago, I woke up praying for my husband. I think it may have even been audible. I quickly got up, made my coffee, and went to my favorite spot on our couch.

Bible in one hand, coffee in the other, I began to pray over Lem fervently. Clearly the Lord had laid him on my heart so heavily for a reason.

A few hours later, Lem texted me a picture of he and I and told me how much he loved me. Just for the record--this is rare. Not that he was texting me or saying that he loved me--but in such a romantic and out of the blue way. That part was rare. ;)

It made my day. It made my week.

I may never know why the Lord prompted me to pray so fervently for Lem that morning, but He sure made it clear I was to pray.

If I am honest, I will admit that Lem in the past has been on the back burner of my attention. A lot of my attention went to my kids, my friends, my bible studies---anything but him. Those things are all very good things, but the order was all messed up.

My heart needed a re-set.

One day I decided to do some biblical research on marriage and see what God said about it. I was heavily enlightened.

Nothing, except God, is to come before my marriage to Lem.

I am my husband's helper: "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18)

This is a serious calling for wives. We were created to "help" our men. The world has convinced us that other things and people need our help and attention more. This is false. Don't fall for the lie of the enemy.

If we are more available for our work, our friends, and our church than we are for our husband's, we need to change our priorities. Our husband's should get the absolute best of us, not what's left of us.

My words and my actions should be gentle and kind towards my husband: "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, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Does the world get a kinder you than your husband does? Do you find it easier to forgive a friend than to forgive your man? Are the words that come out of your mouth sweeter to others than your man? We must work on this.

My husband and I are one: For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

Okay, here's where the rubber meets the road for many. I am not good at beating around the bush, so I will just be straight forward. Newsflash: Your husband's family is also your family. His mother? Your mother too. His father? Your father too.  His quirky siblings? Your family too.

Now, I know that there are some crazy messed up inlaws out there. I get it. However, speak kindly about them to your man. Don't insult his mother, his father, his crazy aunt. He may not seem like it bothers him, but rest assured it does. Our words have powerful influence over our men. Remember the story of Adam and Eve? Adam was easily convinced and persuaded by Eve. You know the rest of the story.

How about if we encouraged grace, love, and forgiveness in these crazy family situations? How about if we stayed quiet instead of chiming in with hateful words when it comes to family dysfunctions? [Please don't throw rocks at me] I know this is a sticky subject. Not one married person is immune from crazy family members. But, if we remember that our goal is peace and unity, it will help us to choose our words more carefully.

One more thought on this one...maybe, just maybe, God has put you in this family for a reason. Maybe your example of love and grace will change the course of history and strongholds in this family. I hope and pray that our Christian faith is not a turn-off because of our lack of love and grace for our husband's family. They are watching us. How will we react? How will we respond? Or will we ignore them and hope the go away. This is a huge calling girls. LOVE your husband's family. They are now YOUR family. The end.

I must be a peacemaker instead of a pot-stirrer: Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.(Proverbs 10:12)

Some days our men will come home stressed out. I mean like a ticking time bomb. On these days, Lem goes straight to the television. I let him diffuse as long as it takes. I have learned the hard way. ;)

Things happen at work with our men. Stress is inevitable. When our husband's have an issue with a co-worker, or someone outside of the home--what if we promoted love and peace in the situation? What if we listened quietly without chiming in with disparaging remarks? Again, our words have a lot of influence over our husband's. What if we make our words full of love and forgiveness? Instead of offering our solutions to their problems, let's listen and pray. Hatred stirs up strife. Love covers ALL sin. Don't we want our fellas to have some peace?

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day" Proverbs 27:15

Lord, help us to not be a drippy and quarrelsome wife.

I am praying over our marriages. Marriage is a gift from God that should be taken very seriously. We are walking on holy ground. Our marriages are sacred, therefor we should treat it as such.

Beginning with our men.


working on my dripping,


jill










Jul 17, 2019

Looking for your calling?

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I cannot believe I haven't written in almost two months. It is not that I have not had anything to write about, the Lord surely knows I have. I just have not had the time to sit down and let it all out of the tips of my typing fingers. 

However, this morning is slow. And sweet. And I am on my second cup of coffee...and ready to write. 

Have you ever felt the Lord calling you to something,  a stirring of sorts, but you just could not uncover what in the world He was asking you to do?

I find myself in this place. 

My journal is filled with pages of this burning desire to serve...to do....something. 

Yesterday was one of those days. I sat on my back porch watching the birds flit and flitter, and I just felt this overwhelming sense of calling for something. 

I ran inside and grabbed my bible. The Lord led me to the book of John. This is the third time He has led me here in the past month. To the exact same scripture. 

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:1-6

Ok, Lord, I get it. You are telling me to remain in You. But, what do you want me to do??
I read further on in the passage. Something I had overlooked before. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17
I read the last line over and over and over. To love each other. 
Something became crystal clear in my heart. Jesus told the questioning disciple that the greatest commandment was to love. Beyond serving, and ministering, and teaching, and preaching....
To Love. 
It has to be at the base of whatever it is we set out to do. 
I wonder how much we miss out on in our calling because we forget that one simple command. We miss the mark when love is not present in our relationships and dealings with others. 
With all of my beating heart, I believe that He will not use us if we do not know how to love others. The end. 
I think of David, the shepherd, the King.  The bible describes him as having "a heart like God's."
Since John 4:7 tells us that "God is Love", then David must have had a HUGE heart of love for others. 
God made David King of His people not because he was smart, or handsome, or a great leader. But, because David knew how to love others. 
We will never ever be able to serve others well unless we love them well. 
We can have the greatest talents in the world. A great speaking voice. Great writing skills. Great leadership skills. But, if we don't love others well....it doesn't amount to a thing. 
This can be a hard pill to swallow when we feel like everywhere we turn there are "difficult people." 
Lord, how can I love these people that are just so unlovable?
And, then I remember that He loves me. The most unlovable of all. 

In that same scripture, He tells us: so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.
This scripture is not promising a huge ministry. Or something supersized and impressive for the world to witness. 
No. 
It promises that if we remain in Him and love others well....we will bear fruit that will last
Whew. 
Sink your teeth into that. 
Talk about leaving a legacy. 
This is what we truly desire, right?
Long after we depart from Earth into Heaven, the seeds that we were sown in LOVE, will go on producing and producing and producing. 
As a mother, I see this Promise able to happen through my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on. 
Friends, maybe we need to stop asking the question, "What is my calling, Lord?" 
And start asking "who are you calling me to love, Lord?"

I think I am finally starting to get it. 

looking to love, 

jill










The Secret....

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