Dec 30, 2019

You are called...


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Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8


In the Fall of 2011, I felt a calling.

It wasn't audible, but it was certainly palpable.

Up until that point, I had not read God's Word. Yes, I had read passages, done countless bible studies, memorized a few scriptures...

But, I had never sat down to read the Bible.

I did not know where to start. The thought just seemed too overwhelming.

However, when the call came, I felt it. I knew it. I had to do it.

The call was a pressing nudge. Not forceful or demanding.

Nervously, I reached out to a few friends in late December asking them to read the Bible with me. I needed accountability. I knew I would NEVER finish if I did not have someone walking alongside me on this seemingly daunting journey.

To my surprise, the handful of friends quickly jumped in. Little did I know that God had been calling them as well.

Those few friends invited more friends. By January 1, 2012, we had a few hundred girls that had the same calling to read God's Word.

The first few days, I would email all of the girls the reading plan and then discussions along with it

With two small kids, and a third child under my roof during that time as well, I could not keep up with the emailing and adding of emails to our new SHINE Girls group.

On January 3rd,  shortly after we started our reading, I sat down on the floor of my room. Laptop on my knees. I prayed that God would help me to be able to continue this. It felt overwhelming. It felt like too much.

My exact words to the Lord were this, "God, you called me to this. Open a door for me to continue. I cannot keep this up. The demands of my home, husband and kids are just too much. Help!"

A few minutes later, a thought came to my mind.

A blog.

I was already blogging for my family because I loved to write. So, now, I would just start blogging our reading plan and discussions!

It took about 5 minutes for me to create this blog.

I sent an email out to the girls, directed them to the blog, and that is how it all began.

Here we are, 8 years later, and the calling is still alive and well.

For all of us.

We are all called to read God's Word. We are all called to know Him. Intimately.

Life gets busy. Demands press.

The calling remains....

God's Word is our bread of life.

It is our source of wisdom, peace, joy, discernment, prayer, faith, understanding.

Without it, we cannot be fully walking in His plan for us.

He instructs us in His Word. He teaches us. He molds us. He shapes us.

When I look back over the years at the posts on this blog, my heart is truly overwhelmed by the changes that have taken place in my own life.

Not just the physical changes, but the changes in my heart. My soul. My mind.

I am not the same person I was in 2012.

Praise the Lord for that!

And, the good news is, I am still changing. He is still molding and shaping me.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12

Read that scripture one more time.

When we read His Word, it puts a mirror to our hearts, our motives, our desires.

We see the Truth when we read His Word.

Without His Word, we don't have Truth. We have a mirage of what we "think" is truth.

Friends, I still feel this same calling so deeply in my soul.

The calling to read His Word together.

Maybe you have been with us since day one, maybe you are  new reader. Whatever the case, we are so glad you are here.

Accountability is key.

Grab some friends and do this together.

Meet weekly, or monthly...or keep up via email and text.

Just stay accountable.

Grab a little notebook and write down scriptures God highlights for you.

You will love looking back on these pages one day to see God's Hand directing your steps.

This year, we will continue the same plan we started at the beginning of 2019.

I love to hold the Bible in my hands when I read, but some of you prefer it online. Either way, find a way that suits you best.

The Bible Plan we are following is a One year bible. It has a daily devotional, and then a few chapters a day to read.  Every 7 days or so is a reflection day, with no reading. A good to to catch up if you fall behind. :)

You can find it here on Amazon. 

I have just discovered that they do not offer the bible plan online anymore. So, if you do not want to purchase, I am happy to post the plan here on the blog.

Will you join me again this year?

I need His Word more than I need air.

I am betting you do as well.

To get us started, here is this weeks plan:


1/1: Genesis 1-2
1/2: Genesis 3-5
1/3: Genesis 6-9
1/4: Genesis: 10-12
1/5: Genesis: 12-14
1/6: Genesis 15-17
1/7: Reflect & Rest 



Let's do this,


jill




Dec 20, 2019

Cocooned....

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I really wanted to write a cozy little post about Christmas joy.

But, as I sat down to write and prayed...my heart was led differently.

Before Jesus was born, many had been waiting for Him-The Messiah-for decades after decades. Many would die never seeing or knowing when His coming would finally arrive.

When the prophets stopped prophesying at the end of the Old Testament, there was total darkness for 400 years. Not physical darkness, but spiritual darkness.

In the past year, both of my children have been through some hard times. Both found it hard to see that anything good could come out of the situations they were in.

As a parent, it is very hard to watch your child suffer. You want to take the pain away, but you cannot.

I wonder if that is what God was enduring as His people waited...for so long.

Suffering is brutal.

Watching your children suffer is a whole different kind of brutal.

I told a friend recently that watching your child suffer is like someone taking your insides and twisting them up in all different directions.

Suffering is physical. It does a number on our bodies.

400 years.

God's people sat in total darkness.

Galatians puts the birth of Jesus like this...

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come...

So, something had to take place first.

The people had to be ready.

Everything had to be in order.

The time had to be ripe.

Could it be the same with our suffering?

As I watch my children suffer, I see a transformation taking place.

I see their hearts softened in a new way.

I see any ounce of pride turn into humility.

I see self-centered turn to empathy.

What if I would have protected them from all of that?

What if I jumped in and put a barrier around them and was somehow able to ease their self pitying demands of justice?

I remember when Joseph was little.

I read a story about a butterfly.

It begins as a caterpillar. 

Then, creates a cocoon around its body. 

Metamorphosis takes place. 

A struggle in the cocoon takes place. 

A little boy walking by sees the struggle and grabs something sharp to help the struggling butterfly. 

He felt sorry for the poor struggling butterfly. He just had to set it free. 

Little did the boy know that the butterfly would now never fly. 

The struggle in the cocoon is what it would need to develop and strengthen his wings. 

The butterfly would limp for all of its days now. 

The cocoon was opened too soon. 

So often, I am reminded of this story.

The struggling, the suffering, the pain....

In the fullness of time, something beautiful will come.

If we try to change the fullness of time, or jump in before the time is ripe...

We never get to experience or let our children experience the full metamorphosis of change.

What are you enduring this season?

What suffering is taking place in your heart or the heart of a loved one?

I encourage you to read 1 Peter.  It may shed light on suffering. It sure has for me.



Jesus was the long awaited answer to God's people. He was their long awaited HOPE.

He is our answer too.

He is our HOPE.

Suffering seems eternal while enduring it.

But, the fullness of time always comes. 

The butterfly always emerges when left cocooned in God's protection and care.

Be encouraged, precious friend.

A change is taking place.

Pray. Lean in. Quiet your heart. Listen.

He is doing a work that only can be done through suffering.

The Light will dawn.

In the fullness of time.



it is well,


jill






















Dec 11, 2019

When you don't feel significant...

Commit your work to the Lord,  and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

This time of year always gets my stomach in knots. I get a little anxious about the new year coming up.

I reflect on the past year, and I have that gnawing feeling, again, that my life just doesn't seem significant. 

Ever feel this way?

As I was mopping my floors today, my left side started to ache from bending over with the mop.

My mind was suddenly filled with this scripture, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."1 Corinthians 10:31

I smiled and said to the Lord audibly, "Okay, God, I am mopping these floors for you."

I was reminded in that moment that what I was doing was significant. It mattered.

The world would never know that I took so much care and time to mop my floor for my family, but God knew.

I don't clean and mop because I am a neat freak. I do it because I want my family to feel loved. And welcomed. And warm when they walk through the door each day.

To be honest, most days they have no idea the things I have done each day to try to make this home a place of calm and comfort for them, And, that's okay.

God knows.

One of the biggest struggles I have is feeling like my life matters. Is important. Is significant.

Often, I get my significance tangled up with the world's view of significance.

I forget that in God's eyes...

I am significant.

And so are the things that I do.

All of it.

The tiniest details of my day matter to Him.

Do I honor Him with these details, or am I constantly trying to drum up greater significance for my own pride?

As I was mopping today, side aching,  I heard a whisper in my soul..."They will remember. Your family will remember how well you loved them. "

I almost slipped on my wet floor.

My throat started to close, and tears welled up in my eyes.

Oh, Father. Let it be so. 

When I start to feel insignificant...when I compare my accomplishments to others...

I go back to this memory....


Of being a little girl. Dreaming of the day I could have a family of my own. Driving my children to school each day. Packing their little lunches. Going home to prepare for their return...

God answered those child sized prayers. More than I could ever imagine.

It's not what we do that makes us significant...

It's Whose we are.

It's Who we belong to.

If we submit our work, toilet scrubbing and all, to the Lord...

He will make it matter. He will give us a return greater than we can imagine.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

His Kingdom will be expanded here on Earth because we chose to give our work to Him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

You are worthy.

You are significant.

You matter.


back to the mop,

jill



re-posted from 12/6/17

Dec 10, 2019

He is home...

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I rolled out of bed with a light heart. A merry heart. An anticipating heart.

Gingerly, I made the coffee, plopped down on my well worn couch, grabbed my bible, and sat there holding it against my chest for a moment.

Thank you, Father. I am so grateful.

The words melted down my lips.

I meant it.

I wasn't just trying to make God happy with me, or check off the "thankful" box.

I truly meant it.

My boy, my oldest child, was coming home from college today.

Since the moment he stepped out the door that warm August day to go to college, I have been preparing for his return.

As the months ticked by since August, I found myself falling into a pit of sadness.

I miss him.

I miss seeing his shoulders hunched over his breakfast plate in the too-early light of school day dawns.

I miss buying the extra breast of chicken, and the bigger can of green beans.

But today, he is back home.

Only for a few weeks, but I cherish it none the less.



These past few months have changed me.

There has been loss everywhere it seems.

Big losses.

Shattered families. Kids left without daddy's and without momma's all around me.

After a phone call recently, I fell on the cold cement of my carport and just cried...

Lord, what is happening?

When I felt like the weight of the world would bury me, I would call on Jesus. Beg Him to comfort me.

He always did and He always does.

In many ways, I have learned to surrender in a whole new way.

Not just by saying the words, but by living the words.

Gratitude has molded my heart in a new way.

I see life a little differently now.

Compassion and empathy pulse through my veins harder than they ever did before.

Jesus has given me fresh vision in this season.

Things and people I may have missed before, I see now.

How hearts ache.

How hearts break.

How we all are just one big broken mess.

Really, if you opened us up and peeked into our insides you would see it.

A jumble of organs with broken parts and broken hearts.

Still beating, the heart,  none the less.

When we grieve, and when we cry, and when we hurt....

We start to become one with people in a new way.

I see in on the Cross...the suffering...

How it brought HEALING.

How it opened eyes, and cut through curtains....long standing curtains.

Our suffering makes us better people.

I don't know how or why, but it just happens.

God tells us this over and over in His Word.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 
1 Peter 5:10

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

When we see our children or loved ones suffer, we get angry at God sometimes. Or/And, angry at people. 

We don't understand, and we raise our fist at God, and sometimes at people, who allow this to happen to the ones we love. 

Yet, I am starting to see it differently now. 

I am seeing there is fruit...

The tiniest of gleam....

I see it. 

The hard stuff. 

The hard days. 

The not understanding why all of your prayers are seemingly going unheard....

Then, one day, you wake up. 

You feel this Joy. This Gratitude. This Warmth. 

The suffering changes into something beautiful. 

And NOT possible, without the suffering.

Perhaps all along you were numb. Numb to true compassion, empathy, humility...

Until your heart bleeds out of its chest wall. 

Maybe it is a severed relationship, a diagnosis of a loved one, a phone call that changes the course of your life, a job loss., a college kid, a financial disaster, a marriage uprooted by sin, an aging momma or daddy....

Whatever the bleed....

The suffering that comes with it....

Will leave you changed. 

With a new heart. 

And new eyes. 

Only Jesus can do this. 

Without Him, the suffering will harden us, bitter us, sour us, close us off.....

Oh, but if we surrender to Him in our suffering....

We get a glimpse of Glory. 

A glimpse of Jesus' love for us. 

His rallying for our good, not just our good, but our BEST. 

I go on and on, I know. 

But, I just have to tell you...

Hold on to Him. 

When the days are long...

When the nights are dark...

When you feel like you cannot breathe...

Call out His Name.

Bury your face in His Word.

Surrender whatever breath you have left in your body.

And wait.

And wait some more.

And just when you feel like the darkness will never end...

You begin to feel the Warmth.


Suffering changes us. In the best way.


My heart is more full than it has ever been.



hanging out with my college kid,


jill




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