Feb 29, 2020

He is not done with you...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

We have come to the end of the life of Moses in our reading. God allowed him to climb to the top of Mount Pisgah and look over the land that would be given to the Israelites

I cannot even imagine what Moses was thinking. He had come all this way...for forty years! Yet, he would not be able to enter the land promised.

As we look back over the life of Moses, we discover a full and adventurous life. So many twists and turns, and just when Moses thought his life was ending, God sent Moses on the greatest mission of his life. At the age of 80!

I wonder how many times in our own lives we have thought..."Well, that was fun. I guess that it the highlight of my days, and I can chill from here on out."

To be honest, I have thought this many times. When God has done incredible things, BIG things in my life, I have often thought, "I guess that is it. There is no way God would allow me to be a part of another big thing!"

How silly we are.

As long as we have breath in our lungs, God has a purpose for us.

We are never too old, or too young, to be used by the Lord.

Age is not an excuse. Ever.

As my children grow up and become more independent, I am tempted to think my mothering days are drawing to a close.

I can get sad and feel like my purpose in life is fading.

However, then, I think of the women who are still mothering me. Teaching me. Discipling me. Long after their children are gone.

God is still using these women to pour into the lives around them...the older training the younger. 

Friend, when you are tempted to think that you are unable to be used...because of your past, your age, your health, your family, your financial situation, your gender, your color, your__________ fill in the blank....

Remember the life of Moses.

He died at the ripe age of 120!

God used Moses up until his very last breath. Even those many years it seemed he would remain a shepherd in the wilderness leading a quiet life...

God came to Moses in the form of a burning bush in that wilderness.

Moses said yes to the call.

Although doubtful and hesitant, Moses said yes.

Do you know God has a plan for you?

Planned long ago.

Instead of getting comfortable with where you are...

Begin to ask God if you need to be in an uncomfortable place.

A place of total surrender and dependence on Him.

Right smack in the middle of His plan for your life.

Whether you are 19 or 91..

He has a plan.

Our memory scripture this week:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Goodness gracious! Read that again! Write it on a note card or several. Store it in your phone notes. 

Memorize and believe it. 

He is not done with you. 

Or me. 

Will you accept His calling?



goodbye Moses, 


jill


Feb 27, 2020

Are you lonesome tonight?

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.
Memory Scripture: "When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight' for I bear your Name, Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah 15:16

[Yes, the title of this is from an Elvis song. If you know me, you know I love Elvis. Please, love me anyway]

It never fails to amaze me how scripture can come alive each time you read it.

I remember reading in Exodus, these very passages, a couple of years ago. The Lord spoke so much to my heart at that time. He showed me how I had tendencies to be JUST like the Israelites in the wilderness. Always complaining, Never satisfied. Looking to someone or something else, instead of Him, for direction. The list could go on.

He showed me that my constant desire for "what was ahead" instead of enjoying Him in the present was keeping me from being content. He is all I need. The end. He is enough. The end.

Fast forward to reading through Exodus in this season in my life. I see a different teaching.

I have shared with some very close friends, and now with you trustworthy friends, that I often struggle with loneliness. It's no fun. And I just do not get it.

Even surrounded by family and friends, I can get extremely lonely.

As I read about Moses, the thing that strikes my heart so hard about him is that he must have been lonely!

So far, the reading hasn't mentioned him being lonely, but I just have a huge inclination to believe that he struggled with feeling lonely.

The Israelites often were upset with him. They even tried to go back to Egypt because they were so miserable and without hope and faith. EVEN after God led them through the Red Sea and crushed the Egyptian army, these Israelites still did not believe that God was with them.

Can't we all be a little like the Israelites?? Despite a mighty work by the Hands of God, we still fall into unbelief once the goodness and awe has worn off.

So, back to Moses and his loneliness.

Although he was surrounded by thousands of people, his heart must have felt alone.

Did he have anyone to bounce things off of? Yes, he did have Aaron and Hur. However, he was still the one leading. The one in charge. The one that had to relay God's messages, even when the messages were not what the people wanted to hear.

If we are honest, don't we all struggle with loneliness at times? Feeling like no one could possibly understand what's happening in our hearts? Feeling even at a loss for words of how to describe what you are feeling?

Just this week, I was having one of those days.

I was driving. As usual.

I picked up the phone to call my husband, Lem, he did not answer. I needed to talk. I needed to share. I needed him to understand. Even though I did not even understand how I was feeling.

After he did not answer, I racked my brain for someone to call that I could just spill it all out to....

No one came to mind.

Yes, there are plenty of people that would have listened. But, really, truthfully, that is not what I needed.

I needed God.

Right there. Right then.

Immediately, I went to the Lord in prayer. Sobbing my ever-lovin' caked on mascara eyes out.

"Lord, I don't get it! Why do I feel this way? What is happening? I know You know how I feel, but I need you to help me understand this."

As soon as the words left my lips, I heard a gently whisper in my spirit. "You need Me, Jill. The loneliness is a deep and gaping need for Me. Don't try to fill it with other people. Come to Me."

I sobbed some more.

Right there in that moment, I realized that this would be a life time struggle. My heart will never be completely content until I am Home with my Lord. Loneliness will always be a signal of my Home awaiting for me one sweet day.

It's a longing that is unexplainable. No one and nothing can fill it. But God.

As I listen to the stories of others that I talk to, I realize this is true. Loneliness can disguise itself in many ways. Through addiction, depression, anxiety, fear...so many masks.

What we really crave is Him. 

Moses is no different. Although he was chosen to lead the people to a new and wonderful place, his heart must have been in a deep and lonely place longing for his permanent residence with God.

The Promised Land that Moses was leading these people to would never take the place of their need for God. It was a gift from God. A promise from God. But, never was it intended to take the place of God.

If you are lonely today, lift that sweet chin up to your Father in Heaven. He gets it. Oh, how He gets it. He is waiting on you to come to Him. Drop everything else, and go to Him. NOTHING can heal that lonely spot but Him.

I'm thankful for women around me that understand and will encourage. I'm thankful that I have women around me that point me straight back to Christ when I am in this place.

Maybe you are not in a lonely season, but I will bet you my favorite lip gloss that someone very close to you is lonely. Seek them out. Pray for them. Pray with them. Point the way to Christ.



lonely for Him,


jill


(re-post from 2/28/15)


Feb 26, 2020

Lay it down...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: "When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight' for I bear your Name, Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah 15:16

Would you mind if I shared a little bit of my story with you?

As we learn about the Israelites and idol worship and discontentment among the camp, I am reminded of areas of my own life that have mirrored our ancient Israelite ancestors.

For many years, I have desired more children. I envisioned a house full of kids with bookbags and toys and bedtime prayers rolled into a full and crazy day.

Don't get me wrong, my two children are huge blessings. However, I desired to mother more. I love mothering so much that I thought contentment would come if I had more children to love.

I prayed. I fasted. I pleaded. I cried. I begged.

Year after year, the Lord did not seem to answer that prayer.

Finally, my husband was on board with trying foster care.

We went through all the many, many, hours of classes. Our children were grilled, our house was inspected, our lives were thoroughly checked out to make sure we were foster parent worthy.

The Summer of 2012, which was also the same year this SHINE ministry began, we completed our foster training.

We were finally ready! I knew in my heart that this was IT. God would bring us a child or two or three to adopt and my dream would be realized.

Things did not turn out the way I hoped.

My precious sister in love was going through a hard time that Summer and needed help with one of her boys. He was 5 years old at the time.

He came to live with us and I knew that we would have to put our foster journey on hold.

I remember questioning the Lord time and time again.

I loved my nephew being with us, but I was confused. I did not know the plan. I did not know how long we would need to care for him. I could not see what God was doing.

8 years have passed since that Summer.

Looking back, I see so much clearer.

Without getting into too many family details, I will just say that God knew way more than I knew. Duh.

He did immeasurably more than I could have ever thought or imagined during that time period.

I had do die to the desire of my heart for more kids of my own,  and lean into the desire of God's plan .
It took a long time though. A very long time.

I see now that the prayer I had been praying had been answered.

He has put children in my path for years and years to pour into and love on.

My nieces, my nephews, friends children, neighbor children.....

He did send children my way. And He continues to.

His plan was bigger than mine.

I was only thinking of my plan with blurred and messed up vision and motives.

God was slowly pruning my heart to see the bigger plan.

A plan that would have much more impact on His Kingdom than mine.

If I would have been given a house full of children, it would have limited greatly my opportunity to pour into the other children around me.

The need is great for aunts, uncles, mentors, disciple-makers....outside of our homes.

My heart was discontent for so very long until I began to slowly die to myself and my dreams and desires.

God has a way of re-directing those desires and often it does not seem to make sense.

Trust Him anyway.

Let go of your dream and see what He does with it. Pray, yes, but pray with a heart open and surrendered to His Will. "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven."

I have stopped praying for more children, I have shifted my focus. I pray for all the children, babies, toddlers, teenagers, young adults He puts around me now. I pray for them like I pray for my own kids.

Aren't we all God's Children and in His family anyway?

One of my dear friends said something recently that I just cannot shake.

She had begun to pray for some people in her life that were rejecting her. It was a very hurtful situation and she felt the Lord nudging her to pray for them fervently.

When she began praying for them, it seemed like things were getting worse in their lives and not better.

She asked her wise earthly father about this. She said she was perplexed because her prayers did not seem to be helping or blessing them.

Her daddy thoughtfully replied, "Wow. Imagine if you weren't praying for them."

Friends, our prayers are shifting things here on Earth. God is releasing His Will from Heaven through our prayers.

What is your long time desire? Are you frustrated?

Maybe begin to surrender it to Jesus. Ask Him to show you His desires for your life.

Maybe our small thinking is preventing us from seeing the big picture...God's picture for our lives.

I think of Moses. He led these people for 40 years. Prayed for them. Pleaded for their lives. Taught them.

Yet, was not able to enter into the Promised Land.

But, without God leading them through Moses. they would never have made it.

God had a plan for Moses. It was greater than Moses ever dreamed, but it ended differently than Moses desired.

Will we dare to surrender our deepest desires to the Lord today?

He wants more for us than we can see or imagine.

But, we must trust Him and lean into Him at all times. Even when the way is foggy.

"But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, "You are my God!" My future is in your hands." Psalm 31:14-15


leaning in,


jill










Feb 25, 2020

American Idols...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: "When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight' for I bear your Name, Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah 15:16


First things first...Happy Birthday, Mom!!!! 
Thank you for setting such a wonderful example of serving and motherhood. You are the Best person I have ever known. Your love is unconditional and unending. I love you so much!!!



If you are reading through the Bible with us, we have made it to the book of Deuteronomy. God is giving the Israelites instructions before they are to enter the land that God has promised them. 

God is serious about obedience and he is serious about sin. 

He warns them time and time again about the danger of conforming to Egyptian culture and idol worship. 

God knows the hearts of those men and  women and He knows our hearts too. (1 Samuel 16:7)

We tend to easily fall for the culture norm, don't we? We get sucked in and curious about new ways and new things. We desire to look like everyone else instead of being set apart. 

The Israelites fell for this as well. They were starry eyed by the Egyptian culture. They were fascinated by their wealth and their ways. 


29 The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.
We read this and think, "there is no way I would worship a god like theirs."
But, our actions often prove otherwise. We may not profess our worship for things and people, but our actions show differently. 
Relationships, money, career, social status, success...
These can all be idols in our lives if they consume our thoughts, our heart, and our actions. 
I have had many idols that The Lord has dealt with me over through the years. 
Many times, He has removed these things from my life due to the damage these things were doing to my heart. 
We attach ourselves to things and people because our nature is to worship. 
But, we were made to worship God alone. 
So, when we are not solely worshiping Him with our time, our thoughts, our prayers, and our actions...
Our worship attaches to something else. Even good things can become idols. 
God calls us to be holy and set apart.
"You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and He has chosen you from all the nations of the Earth to be His own special treasure." Deuteronomy 14:2
Is there an area in your life that you have conformed to this world? Is there something or someone that has become an idol and has drawn you away from Jesus?
Tomorrow, February 26th, many of you will begin to observe the Lenten season. Lent is the 40 days before Easter.  {a good article about Lent}
Many Christians fast something for this time period to prepare for Easter. 
I have often taken this time to not only fast, but maybe add in a particular worship to Jesus. 
For example, spending more time in God's Word. Or designating more prayer time in my day. 
As we think about some possible idols in our lives, and as we pray and ask God to show us anything taking a greater space in our hearts than Him, let's consider ways to fast from our culture. 
Maybe it is a certain food. Maybe it is social media. Maybe it is a certain behavior. 
When we pray and ask Jesus to show us the state of our hearts...He will. 
[Quick little story...My son gave up soft drinks for Lent 2 years ago. He will not go near them anymore! 40 days without soft drinks completely changed his taste buds. He has no desire or craving for soft drinks anymore.]
Fasting has this powerful affect. It can change what we crave. Re-setting our desires and priorities. 
Do you celebrate Lent? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

removing idols, 

jill

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!! You are LOVED!!













Feb 21, 2020

What are you eating?

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: "When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight' for I bear your Name, Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah 15:16


Good morning, and happy Friday!

It has been a whole week since I have sat down to write. I apologize for the delay.

When my son left for college, I remember thinking, I will have more time to write now. My life will be slower.

I was wrong.

We tend to fill those empty spaces, don't we?

This week I literally had to make myself sit down and find some rest. I wanted to spend an entire hour in prayer and bible reading that afternoon, and I ended up falling asleep on my couch while praying.

God knew I needed that little soul rest.

For some reason, we are afraid of empty pockets of time. We feel unproductive and kind of useless if we are not working and doing.

This is something I am really, really working on. I am trying to be okay with down time. Times of rest and nourishment.

Allowing ourselves the space to rest, will actually help us to be more productive. Jesus set the example for us often.

He often set out to pray, to reset and to seek His Father's direction before continuing on His journey.

Moses did the same thing here as we read through the Old Testament.

Our families need us to be present and nourished. They need us to allow Jesus to pour into us so that we can pour into them.

A soul that is ragged and worn down is not much good to the people around us.

We miss out on great opportunities that God has for us when we fill our time with things He has not called us to do.

I love how Moses constantly sought the Lord for direction. He never made a move without seeking Him.

In this day and age, we have God's Word always at our reach. We live in such an amazing time period that we can find His Word on our phones, in our homes, in our libraries....

Yet, so often we are not digesting it.

The instructions for our lives, to help us rest, to help us work, to help us with difficult circumstances. to give us wisdom in our marriages, in our parenting, and in our relationships...

These Instructions are always with us.

But, are we getting them into our hearts?

I challenge you today to find some time to rest.

Grab your Bible, your Bible app, or whatever you use and read God's Word.

His Word is nourishment. His Word is Rest. His Word is Life.

I unearthed this treasure of a scripture yesterday, and I want to put it into my heart forever to be stored.

Our memory scripture this week:  "When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight' for I bear your Name, Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah 15:16

Let's put this into practice.


finding that rest.



jill


a few pics from rainy walks lately...

serenity and Bo 

Spring is coming

rain brings blooms





Feb 14, 2020

How do you love?...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: "Let all that you do, be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14


When I think of love, I think of Granny Hill.

Granny Hill was my husband's grandmother. I fell in love with her the moment I met her.

She loved well.

When Lem and I were newlyweds, we would often go visit her. In the drop of a hat she would prepare us a home cooked meal.

As the years passed, our lives got busy. We began to see her less and less.

However, when we did make it to see her, her smile never faded. She was always welcoming and happy.

She never made us feel guilty or regretful for not seeing her as much as we had. We were in the crazy throes of toddlers and chaos, and she understood.

More years passed and we had to take her to an assisted living facility.

Lem and I never once heard her complain. Her smile was as big as ever when we would arrive to see her, kids in tow. She would laugh and smile and would always welcome us into her little room with the pictures of grandchildren hung on those faded white walls.

Perhaps what I learned from Granny Hill the most, was how to love others well.

She was kind to us. She was patient with us as our lives got busier. She was always happy to see us. She was warm and friendly. She did not hold grudges or keep records of wrongs. She was present always.

She made anyone in her presence feel important. She always wanted to know how we were doing, never focusing on her own ailments and sicknesses.

She passed away to Heaven several years ago, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her.

When I get frustrated with Lem, or my kids, I think of her selfless ways.

When I get distracted and busy, I think of how present she was to all around her.

She loved well.

She challenges me to live this way.

She challenges me to love without strings, or conditions, or selfishness.

Do you have someone in your life that challenges you to love others better?

Maybe today you could tell them how much their love has meant to you. I wish I could tell
Granny Hill that today.

I will be able to again one sweet day though.


Our memory verse for this week is:

"Let all that you do, be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14


*Granny Hill and her babies 2008*




thank you Granny Hill,


jill





Feb 7, 2020

Remembering...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

Last night, I crawled up into my bed, hoisting about 6 old prayer journals onto my lap.

I love looking back. I love remembering.

When I need some encouragement, when I need to remember God's Faithfulness, I go back to the ink of my own pen from years ago.

Sometimes I do not even recognize my own writing. It looks different.

My, how I have grown since those well worn pages in my old journals. Yet, some pages that I read, I think--is my faith still that strong?

Prayer after prayer. Plea after plea.

I see how God has answered those prayers years later. The prayers over my husband, my children, my family, my friends.

Prayer after prayer over my parents, their health...God is just so Faithful.

I look back and see the constant repentance. I confessed all of my sins so vulnerably. My children will have a field day with these some day. :)

Remembering produces gratitude.

Remembering produces faith.

Remembering reminds us that seasons do not last forever.

Remembering brings joy.

Are you in a dry place? Do you need a fresh filling of faith?

I encourage you to sit down today. think back on your life.

Look for God's Faithful Hand through it all.

Sometimes, we just have to take the time to look back.

We are so inclined to look ahead, keep moving--that we don't sit still in the present. Nor, look back and remember with gratitude.

Do you keep a prayer journal?

If not, I encourage you to start one.

I promise you will love looking back and seeing God's Hand, remembering prayers answered, and watching the growth of your faith slowly take place.

Our memory verse this week is:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11



looking back,


jill




Feb 5, 2020

The details...

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: "A sweet friendship refreshes the soul" Proverbs 27:9


As I read through the book of Leviticus, I get lost in the details. The blood, the sacrifices, the rituals. the rules.....all of it had to be just right in order for their sins to be forgiven.

I was talking to my sister about it all, and she said that it just was a great reminder that God cares about all the tiniest details of our lives. 

Such a great and true statement.

So often we forget this though.

When trivial things happen and knock us off of our feet, we forget to pray. We tend to complain, whine, huff and puff...instead of asking God to help us.

A few days ago,  my son lost one of his air pods. He is so upset. Just this morning as I was reading God's Word,  I thought to myself, I need to pray about this! This is important to God, because it is important to my son.

I could tell countless stories, and I bet you could too, of answered prayers.

Not just big prayers, but the smaller prayers that make up the details of our days.

Years ago, I was using this amazing skincare. I ran out of it, and money was tight.

I specifically prayed that God would help me to find another skincare to use, or to bring us some extra money to pay for the skincare I loved.

The very next day, my friend Kristi, called me. She said that she had tried this new skincare line and did not really love it. She asked me if I wanted it. Still in the boxes, brand new.

When I pulled into her work, opened her car door to retrieve the skincare, it was the exact same skincare that I LOVED. And, had prayed about! A whole entire set of it!

I burst into tears.

Friends, all of these details in our lives...they are important! Reading through Leviticus shows us this!

God is so intricately intertwined in all of our lives. He is in everything. Yet, we forget.

What do you need to pray about today? Maybe it is something you never thought to ask God about helping you with.

NOTHING is too small for God.

He longs to be our "Person". He longs for us to come to Him and share all of these details with Him.

This creates intimacy between God and us.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23

He can handle all of these small things, and all of the BIG things. We just need to ask Him.



praying for air pods,


jill


*My sweet Joseph holding his newest cousin, baby Jane*



Feb 4, 2020

Keep going....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go here. 
Subscribe to SHINE emails: Go here.

Memory Scripture: "A sweet friendship refreshes the soul" Proverbs 27:9

Happy Tuesday, sweet SHINE sisters!

How's your Bible reading going? Even if you are not following along with us in the Daily Walk Bible, I encourage you to read God's Word daily.

I know our days are full, but all of us can find 5 minutes or so to eat from The Bread of Life--God's Word.

A wonderful tool is the YouVersion Bible app. It will READ ALOUD to you. YES! I do this often when I am driving or folding clothes or making beds.

It is an easy way to read God's Word when you are short on time.

Of course, there is nothing like sitting down, grabbing a warm blanket, and soaking in God's Word in a still place. This is always my favorite option to read, but I know it is not always accessible every single day.

A sweet and dear friend confessed to me recently that when she reads God's Word it just doesn't make sense and she gets frustrated. I get it.

I told her that reading God's Word is kind of like learning a foreign language. The more you read, hear, listen, and learn--the more you will begin to understand. God begins to open our spiritual eyes and minds to receive what He is teaching us.

Romans 10:17 tells us, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God".

So, in essence, the more of God's Word that we we read or hear, the greater our faith becomes. 

We are in the book Leviticus. It can be hard to digest. So many laws, rules, regulations. Oh my!

However, when we ask God to show us what He wants us to learn from this, it helps us to have new vision.

Adding a Proverb to your reading will help too. Daily, practical, and always applicable Proverbs! They are like daily vitamins. Good for us!

Keep pressing on. You will be so glad you did. Each second we spend in His Word plants a seed that will bear fruit one day.

The more we spend time in God's Word, the more we get to know Him!

I tell my kids often that we begin to become like the ones we hang out with the most.

So, let's hang out often in God's Word. Slowly, gently, sweetly, we will begin to reflect Him in our daily activities.

If you are struggling with reading your Bible, pray and ask God to help you. Also, find a friend to encourage you and spur you on.

Accountability is HUGE. I have a few friends I get in touch with each week for accountability in my bible reading. It sure helps to know that we are in this together!

I am cheering you on! You can do this! WE can do this!

(Scroll down for a few pictures from my 10,000 steps a day walks! So much beauty to behold all around us!)


soaking in His Word,


jill

A walk at Dusk

Trees make me happy

Ombre sky--just perfection


Man in a van...

  For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14 "Did you hear about the homeles...