Sep 15, 2020

What if...

 I have trust issues. 

With God. 

Not always, but more often than I want to admit. 

I find myself replaying or imagining a scenario in my head. Over and over. 

Even, I find myself preparing for the worst possible outcome over something I am praying over. 

I find that I am in this place now. 

We have a decision to make as a family. I have prayed and prayed and asked God to open or close doors in this situation. 

My heart and head still have doubts. 

It is almost as if I don't trust the outcome even when left in God's Sovereign Hands. 

Can you relate?

These thoughts have absolutely consumed me the past few weeks. 

What if we get it wrong?

What if the choice ends up a painful one?

What if...

What if...

What if...

 The doubts are never ending. The mind spins. The heart races. The worry consumes. 

Yet, I know God goes before us. 

He has prepared the way for us. 

Why, then, is it so hard to just let it go and trust God?

Why is it so hard not to become cynical and questioning and all things lacking faith?

This feeling, is almost like a mold over my lungs. It suffocates. It depresses onto the heart. 

It is hard to focus on other things. 

I am afraid of heartache. I know the reason for this constant doubting and upheaval of faith. 

 I am self preserving. 

There. I said it out loud. 

Actually, I am self preserving someone I care about as well.

I cannot bear to see them/us have heartache...again. 

I am afraid. 

I am fearful. 

There. I said it again. 

What if God doesn't bring good from this? What if His plan is to mold us and prune us...again??

We have been through heartache and we have been better for it. 

But, can I be just really gut punching honest? I am not real happy with the thought of more heartbreak...even when it brings good fruit.  It is hard. 

It is really hard!

Heartache hurts. It scars. It leaves a hesitancy in your soul that whimpers when the thought of going near something again could possibly bring more pain. 

I think of Jonah. 

We are reading it now in our Bible Reading Plan. 

He knew where God was calling him. 

But, he did not want to go. 

He ran. 

And was even thrown off a boat into the belly of a fish. 

He wanted to avoid the "Plan". God's "Plan". 

I know how Jonah feels. 

Often, I want to run the other way. 

I want to hide in a bush or in the belly of a fish-- until God forgets about His "Plan" for me. 

The problem is, He never forgets. 

He knows what we do not know. He sees what we do not see. 

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8.

 As I type this, a precious friend just sent me this text. I am going to copy and paste it for you to read. It overwhelmed my soul with Peace and I pray it does yours as well...

 Aren’t you so thankful that God sees us and knows our hearts before we even ask? And He lovingly hears and answers us over and over! He’s got all of us. So thankful! Praying we all rest in His peace and trust Him. He’s the best Daddy. He sees the beginning and the end and knows how it all plays out. He is ordering our steps and we can trust that He has us. He’s in control of each and every detail. 

He is the maker of heaven and earth, and He cares about us and loves us so much! Praying each of us feel the warmth of His love and comfort and peace today. God, let us not be anxious or overwhelmed by our circumstances...let us receive the overwhelming peace of Your Spirit in us. Breathe on us today, Holy Spirit. Fresh wind. In Jesus’ name.

 This friend had no idea I was in the middle of writing a SHINE post, but God did. He knew we needed these encouraging words to spur us on. To remind us that HE SEES. HE KNOWS. HE CARES. HE GOES BEFORE US. ALWAYS. 


we can trust Him, 


jill



Sep 14, 2020

Leaving the 99...

 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish" Matthew 18:12-14

There is a question I have pondered on and off for the last few years. It is something that wakes me up at night, and causes my heart to beat rapidly in my chest. It has haunted me at times, like a shadow looming over me beckoning me to acknowledge it.

The question is this: What is my purpose?

This question has caused anxiety, fear, panic even in my soul. What if I am not fulfilling my purpose? What if I am not doing....enough?

Some days, I am certain I know my purpose. It seems as clear as a crystal glass. However, other days, I am uncertain of just about everything.

I have asked God, "What can I do for You? How can I be of the most use?"

The answer has not been clear.

Until recently.

I have been reading through the book of Matthew. Inhaling the words of Jesus. Studying His life with a magnifying glass. I want to know Him. I want to really know the Son of God. I want to know the Man that died on a cross so that I could live and be in fellowship with a Holy Father.

His Purpose was so clear. Not once did He ask, "Father, what is my purpose?" He always knew.

How did He know?

He knew because He was in constant fellowship with The Father.

It is only when we stray from Him that we become unclear and confused.

God is not the author of confusion, but the author of Peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

The purpose was never self-centered for Jesus. It was others-focused.

Notice how He poured His teachings into only twelve disciples. Twelve.

Yes, more followed Him, but He focused on twelve.

When He was walking in a crowd of people, He felt the touch of one woman at the hem of His garment. One woman.

 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

She was important to Him. Although she was a nobody by the world's standards, she was a priceless treasure to Jesus.

Jesus didn't look to the world to find His Worth, He looked to the Father.

Jesus wasn't after a good reputation, a huge following, or making a name for Himself...

He was after the hearts of sinners. Like you, like me.

He was after the poor, the destitute, the rejected, the neglected, the leper, the adulterer, the prostitute....

He was willing to leave the 99, to go after the one.

You, are the one.

Wrap your pretty mind around that, sweet sister.

So, as I ask Him, "Lord, what is my purpose?"

I now see that it is discovered in the life of Christ.

The question becomes instead:

Lord, what is Your purpose? What are Your plans?

One little change in the pronoun from "my" to "Your" changes everything.

It becomes a declaration of surrender, of trust, of a heart that desires the Will of God over any selfish ambition of my own.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we have no purpose because we are not "successful" by the world's standards.

I have never written a book. I have never had a publishing opportunity. My blog has not to my knowledge ever gone viral.

If I look for my purpose in numbers or in crowd popularity, I seem to be a complete failure.

But....

What if God wants me to focus on the one, instead of the many?

What if it is a husband who is not aligned with Christ? Or even an unbelieving husband?

What if it is a wayward child whose heart seems to be hardened beyond repair?

What if it is a niece or nephew who has fallen into sin or a destructive lifestyle?

What if it is a sister or brother that is not easy to love and has even turned their back on family?

What if it is a co-worker who needs to know the Hope of Christ?

What if....

God's purpose for us is not found in the many...

But in the one.

What if our purpose is the very same as Jesus' was...

To make disciples of those in our very midst. Beginning with the one.

What if  leading your husband to Christ is God's entire purpose for your life?

What if teaching your children to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and mind was the reason you, momma, were created?

What if showing the love of Christ to that so very hard to love family member was the reason you are here on this Earth?

Gosh, it sure narrows the road, doesn't it?

Our purpose becomes much more simple.

Simple, yet Holy.

Holy, because it puts the spotlight on Christ, and not ourselves.

That, my friends, is the purpose.

We must learn to disciple and take great care and interest in the life of one. Jesus will handle the multitudes.


finding His purpose,


jill

 

re-post from  8/14/16

Sep 1, 2020

Finding my way...

 I find myself in a quiet house again. The boy is off at college. The girl begins her sophomore year of high school. 

Looking back, I knew this time was coming...again. I just seem to never be ready. 

When I was a little girl, all I EVER wanted was to be a mother. I had no desires to work outside of the home. 

I would sit on that big yellow school bus watching mothers walk their children out to the bus stop in their house coats and huge mugs of coffee. I wanted that. Desperately. 

Senior year, my high school counselor asked me what I wanted to "do" after high school. I looked down with cheeks blushing and found these words falling out of my mouth,  "Umm, well.....I want to get married and have children."

He told me he had never had anyone tell him this and then thanked me for being honest. 

Those dreams never died. 

God fulfilled them in His time, and I will be grateful until I breathe my last breath. 

So, when I find myself in a quiet home....

I am unsure of how I am to feel. 

He brought me here. I knew this was coming. I know He has plans for me after my children leave the nest...

But, I also feel unequipped for anything else. I feel utterly inadequate at attempting life outside of this house. 

Vulnerable and honest and raw....and true. 

If I let it, sadness will come in waves. I steady myself and swallow hard. 

Every season has purpose. 

I dig my heels in and repeat what I know is Truth. 

He has a plan. He has a plan. He has a plan. 

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Motherhood fits me. Like a well worn pair of shoes. I am comfortable here. 

I know I will always be a mother, long after my kids begin new lives with new people. 

But, it is the mundane. The chaos. The crazy. The carpools. The long waits for practice to be over. The constant tripping over big teenage shoes scattered all over the floor. 

This is all I know. And have ever known for a very long time. 

My prayer daily is. "Lord, use me. Use any gift you have given me to serve others. I need to be used up."

He shapes our hearts. He chisels and He smoothes. 

He wants us dependent on Him and Him alone. 

I find myself immersed in the book of Daniel. I think of him often throughout my days. 

He prayed. He prayed. And he prayed. 

Lord, is this what you want from me?

I have time to do this. I can do this. 

Perhaps these quiet seasons that come are for this very purpose. To pause. To pray. 

We can be busy and still pray...

But, something happens in the spirit when our world is quiet. When the rhythm of life slows down for a bit and you can actually hear yourself think for once. 

You hear things you could not hear before. You notice things you never noticed before. 

So, I will be content here. I will steady my heart and I will trust in a plan much bigger than mine. 

He is Good. He is Faithful. He is Sovereign. This, I know.

What season do you find yourself in at the moment?

What if we trust God here. What if we surrender it all to Him. The busy, the quiet, the lonely, the chaos...

Lay it at His feet and ask Him to lead the way. Ask Him to give us Grace and Patience and Mercy as we navigate this unfamiliar path. 

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. " Psalm 119:105


still tripping over tennis shoes, 


jill







Aug 19, 2020

Here we go again...

 Hi!

It's me. 

I am still here! 

Kids are back in school, and life is kind of, sort of, weirdly, going back to normal-ish. 

Today, I took my son and my nephew to lunch. Their first day of college for their sophomore year is TOMORROW. 

As I looked at their suddenly not teenager, manly features, I gulped back a huge lump in my throat. 

They are so grown.

My heart has a hard time catching up with reality at times. 

I always feel like I am ready to let go again...

Then, the pain of missing seeing my boy and his face every morning sneaks right up on me. 

Years ago, I began to pray for this season. I watched my sister go through it with her first born, so I KNEW it would be difficult. 

God is FAITHFUL. 

He has answered all of those prayers, yet, my flesh is still very weak at times. 

I miss waking him up in the morning. 

I miss our long, very long, walks and talks around our small town. 

I miss his smile that always makes my heart skip a beat or two. 

I miss him being here. 

It is strange getting those 3 plates out for supper again. 

Change is hard. Always. 

Looking out my window, I see a big and beautiful butterfly flittering around. 

What a perfect reminder of change. 

I don't want my kids to stay cocooned forever....

I want to see them fly. 

But, I miss that cocoon often. 

I think on those sweet days of him lugging his book bag, way too big for his 5 year old shoulders. 

Our lunches outside at his school. Back in the old days when you could actually visit your children at school. 

Pushing the back of his seat on that new bcycle, holding him steady as he peddled.

His first soccer game at 4 years old...bribing him with skittles to go onto the field. 


Good grief. Here come the tears again. 

If you are a momma, it is okay to cry. It is okay to not be okay at times. 

Motherhood stretches our hearts in ways that can be very, very painful. 

It is worth every pain. 

Nothing in this world has ever brought me face DOWN on my hardwood floor before Jesus like motherhood has. 

Nothing in this world has made me more raging MAD like a momma bear when her cubs are messed with, like motherhood has. 

Nothing in this world has HUMBLED me to the lowest depths like motherhood has. 

Nothing in this world has made me more PROUD than motherhood has. 

Nothing in this world has revealed more of my FLAWS than motherhood has. 


If you are a mother, hang in there, sweet one. 

The ride is bumpy and changing and oh so very unpredictable. 


God sees you. God sees me. God sees us. 

He is right beside us, holding our often trembling and empty hands. 

If we could only see just how near He is....


Here is a good reminder...read it out loud. Again and again...


Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.



never alone, 


jill


Jul 24, 2020

Wisdom over words....

These days are hard to understand. Even for the wisest among us, things can seem murky and unsure.

It is wise to be careful what we intake through social media and news outlets. We must filter everything through God's Word.

More and more I am learning as I get older to be quiet. To listen. To be silent.

I have a hard time learning and listening to God when I am constantly talking, talking, talking.

Opinions run rampant these days. Everyone has one.

Fools talk incessantly, wise people listen.

"Fools have no interest in understanding, they only want to air their own opinions." Proverbs 18:2-3

There are some well meaning, albeit unwise folks, who think that it is their purpose in life to set things straight. To open the eyes of others. To get people to see their version of truth.


“Do not call conspiracy
    everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
    and do not dread it. " Isaiah 8:12


But, what does God say? That is what we need to be asking.

We all have opinions. Every last one of us.

Yet, are we seeking God's answer and instruction?

I have found myself over the past few months regurgitating things I have seen and read that sound wise.

Yet, I am convicted greatly because I have not prayed or asked the Lord His thoughts on the subject.

We all want to think we know better. Or we know what is best. Or we know what is "really" happening.

And, the truth is, only God really knows.

Yet, so often we don't ask Him.

How do I know this?

Because if we did, we would have much less to say.

When He speaks, we silence our mouths.

We stand in Holy awe and reverence when He speaks.

I don't see a lot of that happening these days.

"Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7

Many days, I find myself wanting to lock myself in a room with God and plead with Him for wisdom. I think of Jacob. The God-wrestler.

"I will not let you go until you bless me", Jacob pleads with God. (Genesis 32:25)

I found these words coming out of my soul on repeat. I will not leave until you give me wisdom, Lord. Desperately I need it.

I hear conflicting things. Conflicting news.

Wisdom is in high demand.

Yet, I hear His Voice whisper, "I am not the Author of confusion, but of Peace." 1 Corinthians 14:33.

Even relationships can be messy.  What to do, Lord? How can I please you in this situation that seems so dire and messy?

Often there is no tangible solution.

It is just a command, "Love each other as I have loved you." John 13:34

Ok, got it. But, what does that look like in my everyday life?

Then the scripture that is daily my reminder...

"and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Ok, got it. 
Lead a quiet life. There it is again. 
Mind my own business. 
Tend to my work. 
Basically, quit trying to figure everything out and tend to my own little red wagon as my momma would say. 
God did not intend for me to save the world. He sent His Word and His Son to do that. 
I just need to listen. Seek. Pray. Mind my own business. 
And most of all...LOVE one another. 
If we keep it simple, God will handle the rest. He will not let us down. He will continue to fill us with wisdom if we continue to ask Him. 
He won't leave us in the dark. 
He will speak. When we stop talking. 

listening more. 

jill

















Jun 18, 2020

The Cure for Anxiety....

Life is strange these days. Difficult. Hard to understand and wrap our hearts and minds around.

Anger, hurt, violence, despair, hopelessness, fear, ANXIETY, doubt, confusion, chaos...

Just some of the few emotions and actions erupting around us and inside of us.

I remember when September 11th happened. My first bout with anxiety began, and lasted for a very long time.

The world seemed like it would never be back to normal. And, in many ways, it is not.

But, things did get better. Eventually getting on an airplane was easier. Fear subsided and life moved on.

The thing I have to keep in mind during these times is that we were not made to crave the comfort of the world. We were made to crave Heaven.

When we find ourselves restless and longing for what used to be, we need to look no further then this scripture...

"This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come." Hebrews 13:14

When we begin to get to comfy with our surroundings, our faith fades. Our passion for spreading the Gospel wanes.

Think about your own life.

When things are very tough and hard, don't you find yourself clinging more to Jesus? Desperate for His Peace?

On the flip side, when things are going perfectly smooth...health is good, finances are good, relationships are good...

We tend to get comfortable. Lazy even.

We become lukewarm. Neither hot or cold.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Revelation 3:15-16

Times like these wake us up to from our comfortable, lukewarm spot.

Friend, we will never ever be comfortable here on this earth. This earth will fade away. And all that we hold dear will as well.

Matthew 24:35 says, "Heaven and Earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear."

Instead of being afraid and fearful of these times, NOW is the time to draw near to Jesus. To know Him more. To see what He says. To learn what He teaches.

His Words are the only words that will remain.

Revival comes through times like these. Throughout history, it proves to be true.

The enemy would love to make us believe that things are hopeless, people are depraved, and our prayers are useless.

He lies. He is the father of lies.

What the enemy meant for evil, God will make good. (Genesis 50:20)

The enemy is not afraid of lukewarm Christians. He knows Revival will not be spurred from lukewarm.

We must have hearts on fire for spreading the Good News of Jesus.

What else does this world have to offer the hopeless during these times? Absolutely nothing.

Let's open our bibles. Turn our eyes to His Words.

Pray. And pray some more.

Then, ask for God to give us opportunities every day to share. To show love. To show hope. To point others to Jesus.

When we hate our brothers and sisters, Christ is mocked. We cannot truly be Christ followers unless we love like Him.

The best cure for anxiety, hopelessness and despair?

Jesus.

If you had a cure for cancer wouldn't you want the world to know? We surely would not hide it under a rock.

We must be bold in our love. In our actions.

How about instead of posting scriptures on instagram and facebook, we call someone, text someone, go and visit someone.

LOVE others right out of our comfort zones.

It is time for us to step out of our cozy houses lived behind screens.

The enemy is out there.

We must be too.

We must bring the Sword of The Spirit to battle...God's Word.

 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. 1 John 3:10


no more lukewarm,


jill














Jun 11, 2020

Teaching our kids to pray...

When my children were little we would pray together in the car on the way to school. We would sing little songs to help us memorize scripture and talk about how wonderful God is. 

Those memories are precious to me. 

As they became teenagers, I have had to re-adjust my role a bit in their faith life. I have really tried to allow them to grow in their faith without me hovering over them constantly breathing scriptures down their necks. 

Teaching and pointing their hearts to Jesus has looked different from season to season. 

In the current season, with an 18 year old and a 15 year old, I definitely see an independence with their faith blossoming. 

One important thing I try to teach them in this particular season is the experience of prayer. 

My daughter keeps a prayer journal, and she will almost daily write in it. 

This has grown her trust and faith in Jesus. She looks back often to see the Hand of God especially in the really difficult seasons. 

I have tried to encourage them to stay in communication with The Father all day long. The little things, the big things...they are ALL important to Him. 

We tend to think that God is too Great to care about little things....We tend to think He is too Holy to bend down to hear our tiny requests. 

Oh, but He hears us. He cares. In the tiniest of details, He listens. He cares. 

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:2

You keep track of all my sorrows.You have collected all my tears in your bottle.You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8

As we read the book of Psalms in our bible reading plan, we see David pour his heart out to God. Over and over. All of the burdens, desires, dreams....He shares them with God. 

We can do this too. 

Our children need to know this. They need to know that God is Present with them at all times. He is their greatest Friend. Listener. Comforter. Provider. Protector. 

David is often scared and fearful in the book of Psalms. He runs to God for comfort and consoling. 

He is betrayed by close friends, chased in the wilderness, running from his enemies... and He takes all of his anger to God. 

Our children can do the same. 

One way to help them with this is to ask them each day how we can pray for them. Tell them to be specific. 

This opens the door for them to see the Hand of God in prayer. 

My daughter asked me to pray about something very specific recently. Some may have even thought it was trivial and silly. However, I prayed with her. 

The very same day that prayer was answered. 

Encouraging our kids to pray will deepen their faith. It will grow their dependence and trust in the Lord. 

Friends with older kids--even adult kids--it is NEVER too late to start this. 

Do not let them enemy tell you that it is too late, the enemy is a big fat LIAR. 

Today, begin by asking your kids how you can pray for them. 

Then, mid day, send them a little text or tell them you are still praying. 

By evening, remind them that you are continuing to pray. 

I have never had anyone turn down praying for them. EVER. 

If you do not have children, do the same with nieces, nephews, spouses,  friends, and family. 

Our world is in desperate need of praying Christians. 

We have become so busy and distracted that we have put prayer on the back burner and our children may have as well. 

Start small today. God will do the rest. 



never too late, 


jill











Jun 3, 2020

We can do hard things...

I sat down at my computer to write but I have no words. I stared at the blank screen. Nothing.

Often when I have so much on my heart, it takes a while to resonate and let the Lord help me to process.

I scrolled through old posts and almost immediately I came across this one from exactly 5 years ago today. Tears filled my eyes as I was reading...so much has happened since I wrote this. Yet, so much has remained the same. "There is nothing new under the sun.." Ecclesiastes 1:9

My spirit is groaning and praying that these words from 5 years ago will minister to you in some way.

I love you all so much. I am grateful for every single one of you. I do not take you for granted. I pray for you every single day.

We can do hard things...
posted 6/3/15


Hi.

It's been a while, I know.

Are you still reading along with me on our reading plan? It's okay if you are not. You can jump in at any time.

Actually, now is a great time to jump in! We are reading some of my favorite scriptures right now in 1 Samuel. King David is the star of this story. Swoon.

I love David. I mean, I LOVE him. [Lem knows, he's cool with it]

So, Summer is here. Schedules can be kind of crazy. I get it.

My kids are home and we are having a blast. Well, I think we are anyway. If you ask them today if we are having fun, I am not sure what they will say.

Yesterday, I had them make homemade ice cream--without an ice cream maker. They googled the instructions and spent an hour in the kitchen learning about what rock salt does and how thankful we are for new technology--like ice cream makers and electricity.

I thought it was fun and a scientific learning experience. I don't think they have the same perspective.
/
Okay, so back to SHINE girls.

It's been hard for me to sit down and write. Not because I don't have a lot to write about. I could go on for years about God's Word. Decades even.

However, my heart has just been in a hurting place. When my heart hurts, it's hard to find the motivation to motivate. Know what I mean?

My friend, Erin, is going through the trial of a lifetime. I hurt for her. So badly. Please pray for The Spinks family. Please pray for healing. Please pray for peace. Please pray for Erin and Chuck.

Another friend lost her brother to suicide. Oh the loss. Oh the pain. Oh the sadness. Please pray for the Hudgins Family.

Another precious friend's husband was diagnosed with a large tumor in his brain recently, and his surgery is today. Please pray for Shane Beam. Please pray for healing. Please pray for peace.

Heaviness.

Such heaviness.

When I pray these days, I don't even know what to say. I literally, just beg Him for mercy on my people. I have run out of words to say. Groans, tears, and more tears as I pray.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

There hasn't been just heaviness though.

There have been HUGE moments of Joy.

There have been HUGE moments of Peace.

Somehow, even in the dirtiest, messiest, ugliest, of situations, God gives us Hope.

Hope that He holds today and tomorrow.

Hope that this too shall pass.

Hope that He works all things out for our good.

Hope that He is the Beginning, and He is the End.

Hope that He never leaves us and never forsakes us.

Hope that our hurts and sorrows will soon be no more.

When things happen to us that bring us to our knees, something happens in Heaven that cannot happen otherwise. God's Power is made Perfect in our weakness. [ 2 Corinthians 12:9]

When we lose our strength in the battle and surrender, the Greatest Power on Earth fills us.

Surrender=Power.

Only in God's economy can this make sense.

Only in God's economy can JOY come out of pain.

Only in God's economy can Strength be birthed from weakness.

Only in God's economy can Peace come from the chaos.

As I am groaning through this post, I open my Bible.

It falls open to this passage in Isaiah. This passage that He has shown me time and time again in the midst of my own trials. When I was on my face before Him begging Him for direction and peace.

He shows me this again. To share with you. To remind me. To remind you. To remind us.

This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
  who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
   See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland
Isaiah 43:16-19


Just this very week, I was praying about something in particular. I told him, "Lord, it is SO HARD. Why does it have to be SO HARD?"

He breathed the answer into my soul almost immediately.

"Because your surrender to Me comes only in the hard, Jill."

If it never would have gotten hard, I never would have called on Him so fervently. So desperately.

So, back to this Summer.

Back to our Bible reading.

Stick to it. Even when it gets hard.

Hard is where the growth comes .
Hard is where the fruit is produced.
Hard is where we begin to be molded into His image, because we surrender.

We can do hard things.

Who's up for some growth this Summer?


Let's do this,
jill



May 29, 2020

Pride comes before a fall...

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Memory Scripture: Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor. Proverbs 29:23


Pride.

I could tell you stories upon stories of how pride has caused me to look foolish and to be humiliated.

When it wells up inside, it burns to get out. It fills our lungs and our mouths and it desperately wants to escape and be heard.

It will  never ever lead to anything good. Pride leads to destruction.

Pride destroys relationships. 

Pride destroys our witness. 

Pride divides and separates.

Humility restores relationships. 

Humility advances our witness. 

Humility brings people together in peace. 

We need to look no further than the book of Genesis.

Eve took a bite of that piece of fruit due to pride.

A humble heart would have made her content with all that she had.

A prideful heart made her desire more.

Or how about Lucifer. He is described as a beautiful angel in heaven.

Yet, he was jealous of God.

His pride welled up and caused him to fall from heaven for eternity.

Pride is easy to see in others.

Pride is not so easily seen in ourselves.

Pride can swell up in any and all areas of our life.

The way we parent. 

The way we spend our money. Or don't spend our money. 

The house we live in. 

The car we drive. 

The denomination of our church. 

The size of our church--either big or small. 

The size of our friendship circle. 

The people we associate with. 

Our job. 

Our "ministry". 

Our bodies. 

Our achievements. 

Our politics. 

Our good works and volunteer work. 

It disgusts me even as I type.

Many of these, I have fallen into a pit of pride over.

Desperately, I want to live a humble life.

Yet, daily, pride wants to well up in my heart. Pride tempts to destroy any ounce of humility desired.

We must pray to be clothed in humility...at all times.

"Clothe yourself with humility." 1 Peter 5:5

When we least expect it, pride will rage in our veins.

Just like that roaring lion looking for someone to devour, pride is the same.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

This world would be changed if we clothed ourselves with humility instead of pride.

Relationships would be restored. Conversations would be salt and light. Peace would bridge divisive hearts.

Humility brings honor.

Not just to ourselves but to others.

How do we uncover pride in our hearts?

Pray. 

Think, before we speak. 

Is what I am about to say helpful to the one listening? Or is it just boastful. 

What are my intentions? 

Does what I am about to say honor the Lord? Or does it just honor myself. 

Does my opinion help this person or is it to make myself look lofty and wise?

Am I throwing stones at others to build myself up and to make myself look better?

Are my words helpful or hurtful to the one listening?

As we pray for God to uncover areas of pride, here are some scriptures we can meditate on in the process.

When we feel that familiar swell of pride, let's have these scriptures on hand. Let's throw them in the face of the enemy!


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." Philippians 2:3

Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor. Proverbs 29:23

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13


Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16

But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2  Corinthians 10:17-18

Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12



Listen, sweet friend. I understand fully and in complete agreement with what  Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all."

Lord, help us in our sin of pride.

The world desperately needs hearts of humility.


pride rehab,


jill











May 27, 2020

Let me be a woman...

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“The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on, all speak loudly about what you believe. The beauty of thy peace shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”
― Elisabeth Elliot, Let me be a woman


Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I witnessed road rage.

I mean, I have seen road rage on television, but have not experienced it personally, Until yesterday.

My mom and I were in my car together. A lady pulled up right behind me, almost in the trunk of my car, honking and waving and screaming at us.

It got worse. I won't go into further details, but I will just say that I got a good look at the lady who was losing her mind.

She was older than me. Possibly a grandmother.

When the incident was over, I was shaking.

In the middle of the night last night, I woke up thinking about this lady. Her arms flailing wildly, mouthing obscene words, and wanting me to pull over so she could have it out with me.

I immediately began praying for her. She was lost. She was angry. She was clearly an unhappy woman.

Lord, does she have children? Grandchildren?

My heart was filled with sadness thinking about her.

God has been speaking to my heart about my example to those around me.

As I get older, I have this responsibility. This calling to those coming up behind me.

Titus 2 lays it out for me.

 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

When I was a decade younger, I searched for these women. I craved the companionship of older, wiser women. There seemed to be very few to be found, if I am honest.

I prayed daily for this kind of woman to come into my life.

God did answer. These women came in seasons. Sprinkled in from time to time, just when I needed them most.

He also sent books for me to read from older, wiser women.

Elisabeth Elliot, Catherine Marshall, Martha Peace, Debi Pearl...to name a few.

These women have taught me so much through the years.

But, it doesn't stop here.

We have a responsibility.

To teach the younger women.

To lead by example.

I began asking the Lord recently why it seems the older women He put in my life have disappeared....

I now see.

I have a calling to do.

What has been poured into me, must be poured out to others.

I would love to just sit at the feet of some of my mentors and store up all the wisdom.

But, God calls us to share it. Teach it. Encourage others with what we have learned.

When it is easy to become selfish these days because my kids are more independent. My time is more flexible.

I know that selfishness will only steal what God has planned for my life as I become an "older woman".

If I spend all of my time in spas, getting facials, working on my body, eating out excessively with my friends,  shopping and decorating my house again and again....

I become frivolous instead of wise.

I deny my God given role of this upcoming season of my life.

If I become a lover of self...which the bible warns us about in 2 Timothy, I deny the Lord. I deny the reason I was created.

For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 2 Timothy 3:2

Our children need  role models. 

The young mother down the street is desperate for wise counsel. 

Our  husbands need a responsible and prudent wife who is wise with their money. 

It's time we grow up.

The world beckons us to stay young. Social media influencers luring us to buy things that will improve our appearance and keep us youthful. Many women have made a heck of a living enticing other women to shop, buy, and shop some more.

Many of us are just searching for the fountain of youth.

 Here is a secret....it does not exist.

For those of us over the age of 30...

Let's heed this call.

What are those coming up behind us seeing?

Many times children are seeing us excessively on our phones, ignoring them all the while,  filling up our time with social media, text messaging,  ministry work, indulging and binging on tv shows, or the latest town gossip.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

How well do we spend our free time?

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 3:2

How are we spending our money?

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

How are we treating our neighbors?

 ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Matthew 12:31

How do we react when we think no one is looking?

For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17

How do we treat servers and wait staff?

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.. Philippians 2:3

Are finding ourselves too busy to invest in the lives others?

Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

No matter what season of life that you are in the moment..

You have a purpose and a calling as a woman.

Instead of running from it, or looking for others to do it for us....

Let's step up to the plate.

Humbly asking the Lord, "How can I serve others today?"

“All creatures, with two exceptions that we know of, have willingly taken the places appointed to them. The Bible speaks of angels who rebelled and therefore were cast down out of heaven, and of the fall of man.”-Elisabeth Elliot


accepting the call, 


jill














May 22, 2020

The hidden life...

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Memory Scripture: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." 1 Timothy 6:6-7


As usual, this is not the post I was about to sit down and write. Nope.

There is no preparation for this post. Just a heart being bent a different way by the Holy Spirit as I write.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about motherhood. How hard it can be at times. How hidden it can feel at times. Meaning, so often, what we do is not seen. And, may never be seen.

But, God sees it.

 However, sometimes we want others to notice. To applaud us. To recognize the sweat on our brows and the exhaustion in our bones.

Often, it just seems like what we are doing as mothers will never inch us closer to the world's version of success. Or successful motherhood anyway.

I used to scroll Instagram seeing mothers which multiple children. Some even adopted or fostered With multiple playrooms. With multiple everything that I did not have. Mothers looking fabulous and of course always witty and enchanting.

It seemed so.....perfect.  I would look up from my phone and see my smaller house and two kids, and feel so......average.

I would look in the mirror and see the lines on my face and the aging in my eyes and think....wow. I really don't look successful. Or even average. I look....rough. 

Do you ever feel like this?

Do you ever feel that if you don't post a picture or a status update of your motherhood in motion and in action, that maybe, you don't really exist?

Gosh, I sure have felt this way.

It has seemed that if no one sees what happens here, it doesn't really count. If no one applauds me or nods their head in agreement to the thousands of words I let fall out of my mouth each day, some good and some not so good, then it must not really matter.

Through social media our lives have become open books. Open to the whole wide world to see, to interpret, to look into.

This has to affect how we live. How we mother. How we think.

Nothing is discreet or hidden these days. Everything is laid out for the whole watching world to see.

Hence, our children feel the pressure. To measure up. To look a certain way. To purchase filters for their pictures to enhance and edit their precious bodies. Because....

The world watches.

And what about the mothers?

We have felt it too.

We follow  mothers that we do not even know, quoting what they quote, buying what they buy, cooking what they cook, dressing how they dress....

At some point, we have to ask ourselves, what is reality?

Is there even such thing anymore?

The hidden life. The treasures found in a serving life. Away from the limelight. Away from the glare of the camera lens. Away from the approval and likes of others....

This is what I so desperately crave.

Like the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume.

Giving all she had...not thinking twice....and pouring it out on the Lord's feet. Washing his feet with her hair.

No accolades, in fact insults from the men around Jesus. "Why do you do this? You could have made money off of this to give to the poor..."

Jesus replied, "The poor you will always have, but you will not always have Me."

I am paraphrasing here. Look up the complete passage here in Matthew 26.

I want to be like this woman.

Wanting nothing on earth but Jesus.

Wanting only His approval and His eyes.

But, why is it so hard?

I think of John's piercing words here...

"He must become greater, I must become less." John 3:30

How do we become less in a world that shouts that we need to be greater?

Could it be that the greatest treasures are hidden. Away from the world's peering eyes. Away from the amount of social media friends, likes, and comments we have.

Could it be that the greatest treasure is actually found far away from all of it.

In the quiet of your bedroom. In the clink of pans in your kitchen as you prepare your one millionth dinner for the week. In the whisper of your child's breath saying her prayers each night. In the closeness of your spouse as you sit on the couch together watching the news. In the hello of your elderly neighbor as he sits on his porch watching the birds sing and dance around him.

The simple ordinary average  life. Just may be the greatest treasure we will ever unearth.

Maybe our lights shine even brighter when He lights them and we don't. Perhaps we don't even see the light, but others will and they do.

We can still be a city shining on a hill...

Like a lighthouse. It glows. It beckons. It shines.

And brings others ashore.

Without saying a word.


You matter, and He sees.


Embracing the hidden,



jill


(Re-post from 4/23/19)












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