Apr 23, 2020

Don't listen to fools...

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Memory Scripture: "So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. " 1 Chronicles 28:10

Rehoboam was a fool.

Reho-who? You ask?

King Rehobaom, son of King Solomon, grandson of King David.

If you are in 2 Chronicles with us, you may have just read this. If not, no worries. I'll explain. :)

When Solomon died, his kingdom was left to his son, Rehobaom. Let's just call him Reho for now, Ok? My spell check is having a hey day with that name.

Reho was approached by another leader, Jeroboam, and some other leaders in Israel. They asked Reho if he would lighten the harsh labor demands, and heavy taxes that his father (Solomon) had imposed on them.

Their advice to Reho was that the people would be loyal to him forever if he was less harsh.

Wisely, for once, Reho told them to come back in three days and he would decide.

Reho then consulted the older, wiser, men of his kingdom. These men had also counseled Solomon, and they were very trusted.

The older men told Reho to go easier on the people. They advised him that his kindness and generosity would keep them loyal subjects to him. (Same advice that Jeroboam had given him)

Well, he didn't really like that advice, so he set out to seek more advice.

This time, he sought younger men who had grown up with him.

These younger men told Reho to be even harsher than his father. To threaten them with his power and make them work in even worse conditions.

Reho liked this advice.

Reho was a fool.

Due to his folly, Reho ended up losing his kingdom and brought great hardship to Israel because of his foolishness. The people hated him and rejected him--just like the older, wiser men had told him.

(If you want to read something interesting,  read what King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:18-19!!!)

I have thought about this story all day today.

There have been times through the years when I have gone "advice shopping". Looking for what I wanted to hear from one friend to the next.

Often we do this as women, don't we?

We go to our girlfriends and they often tell us what we want to hear.

It is okay to vent, but it is not okay to listen to or give unwise advice.

We often are not careful, or prayerful, before giving advice.

This is dangerous.

It certainly was for Reho.

Over the years, when Lem and I would have issues arise, I knew friends to go to that would take my side and tell me exactly what my itching ears wanted to hear.

Every time, I would regret the decision to follow that advice, and my marriage was none the better.

On the rare occasion, I would go to a friend that would pray with me, lead me to what God had to say about the situation, and point out things that I had done and not just blaming my husband.

It was HARD getting the wise advice. It made me uncomfortable. It was painful to swallow. And humbling.

However, it always worked best.

Having girlfriends is good, having wise girlfriends is best. 

If you feel fired up and fueled up after getting advice from a friend, it is probably not good advice.

If you feel conviction and humility after receiving advice, it is probably the wise advice.

Friends, we have a responsibility to each other.

We are to spur each other on in wisdom, prayer, encouragement, and scripture.

We are not to bash, slander, and spew hatred about others. Just read the book of Proverbs. A fool does all of these things. Yikes.

Sometimes, it may take re-evaluating those closest to us. Praying about those friends we "tell" things to, or ask advice from.

Very well meaning friends can give very detrimental advice.

Reho was a fool because he listened to fools.

He could have changed the course of history if he would have taken the advice of those wise men.

He thought their advice would make him look weak.

Reho was a fool.

Let's learn from him. Let's seek wisdom from those around us. Prayerfully, humbly, and gently desiring truth instead of feel-good words that cater to the flesh.

Some scriptures I am pondering..

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver! Proverbs 16:16


Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10


Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13


**For my married SHINE readers: Tomorrow I am starting a 14 day Love Dare on my Instagram page. I would love for you to join us. If you have Instagram you can follow us at @shinegirlsshine. 


seeking wisdom,


jill











Apr 21, 2020

Staying put...

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Memory Scripture: "So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. " 1 Chronicles 28:10

My Momma Turkey Friend


Every day I walk the same route. Trying to get my 10,000 steps a day in.

I am a bit of a creature of habit, so I could walk this route with my eyes closed.

Part of this route loops around our high school.

Each day for many, many days, I pass by two little turkeys that our FFA take care of at the high school. My dog loves passing by them and barks every.single.time.

Last week, I noticed one of the turkeys was sitting perfectly still. She was far away from her little wooden shed and she looked distressed.

I talked to her for a minute, which I am sure would have made an onlooker suspicious of my sanity.

She did not budge.

Not knowing much about farm animals, I assumed she was hurt badly.

I took a mental note to check on her again the next day.

When I came back the following day, she was in the exact same spot. She had not moved an inch.

Quickly, I grabbed my phone and called a teacher I knew at the high school. I told her about this turkey that was clearly in distress and asked her to have someone check on it.

About 2 hours later, my teacher friend called me back.

"I have good news, Jill. Your turkey friend is sitting on 4 eggs. That's why she is not budging."

Ohhhh.

Feeling a little silly, I told her I was glad the turkey was okay and hopefully I did not cause too much panic in the FFA Department.

Passing by this momma turkey sitting on her eggs each day has made me think about some things.

(The Lord uses every circumstance in our lives to speak to us, doesn't He?)

This turkey persevered. Even through a terrible storm that rolled in through the night, she did not move.

She stayed in her place. 

She was protecting her nest. 

She had a job, and she was not searching for someone else to do it for her. 

Nope.

She was immovable.

As I read through the book I mentioned to you all a few weeks ago, "Kisses from Katie", I have to admit something.

Often, after reading, I feel like my life is not near as important as hers.

I have often felt discouraged, like I am not doing "enough".

Clearly, she is changing the world, adopting 19 kids, and caring for all of their needs. And doing all the things.

 In Uganda.

Yet, here I sit. In my cozy little home and cozy little town taking care of my small nest.

After reading some of this book, I looked at her life and felt like maybe I was missing something.

Maybe I need to be doing "more".

My life just seemed so....minimal compared to hers.

I pondered. I prayed. I questioned the Lord daily about this.



Oh, but God had an answer for me by observing my little turkey friend.

I am to care for what He has given me.

A lot or little, it is important.

Whatever God has placed in my life is an opportunity.

Wherever God has placed me is an opportunity.

Whoever God has placed in my life is an opportunity.

Whether one person or one million, they are all important to Him.

I am to be like that little turkey.

Taking care of my nest.

Not budging when storms come--oh, and they do.

Not taking my eyes off of these people He has placed in my care for one second.

Motherhood is a calling.

Whether we are called to do it in Uganda, or Madison, Georgia.

Whether we are called to take care of one child or a thousand...

It all matters.

And it is more than enough. 

Friends, let's not get caught in the enemy's craftiest trap...

To compare ourselves to others.

To compare what we have to what others have.

To lessen our role as mothers because we don't seem to be making any kind of impact.

That is a lie.

Eve believed it too.

Eve thought surely there must be more. 

Surely, this wasn't it. 

Surely, her life could be better. 

We know how that story ended.

She lost all that she had because she believed a lie.

Mothers, let's cherish what we have.

Let's stay in our place. Not trying to move on to something else because our life doesn't seem big enough.

God's economy is so very different from ours.

He sees what we cannot see.

Ask Him to help you stay perched in your calling.

Digging in, and not moving until He tells you to.

Content with the opportunities that surround you.

Our memory scripture for this week was taken from our Bible Reading plan. I was so moved by these words of King David to his son, Solomon when instructing him to build the Lord's temple.

"So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. " 1 Chronicles 28:10

I take these words to heart in regards to taking care of my flock here. I want to take it seriously, to be immovable, to be strong, and to do the work it requires.

Just like my little momma turkey friend.


staying put,

jill








Apr 14, 2020

Keeping a quiet heart...

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Memory Scripture: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13




My prayer journal is being used more than ever these days.

With a halt in my activities, I have more time to pray. To read. To write.

I see this as a gift.

However...

I miss seeing my friends. 

I miss church. 

I miss going to the grocery store when I could always find what I needed. 

 I miss dressing up. 

I miss family get togethers. 

I miss date nights at yummy restaurants. 

I miss watching my daughter play volleyball. 

I miss taking my college boy to dinner on weeknights in his college town. 

I miss going to my favorite local coffee shop. 

I miss lunch dates with friends. 

I miss my fitness classes. 


Some days are better than others. I grieve the loss of these things from my life.

I see my parents every week from a distance. 

I miss hugging their necks. 

I miss the smell of my momma. 


Elisabeth Elliot wrote in the book that never leaves my nightstand, “St. Augustine said, "The very pleasures of human life men acquire by difficulties." There are times when the entire arrangement of our existence is disrupted and we long then for just one ordinary day - seeing our ordinary life as greatly desirable, even wonderful, in the light of the terrible disruption that has taken place. Difficulty opens our eyes to pleasures we had taken for granted.” (Keep a Quiet Heart)

However...

I am cherishing eating supper together as a family at the table. 

Sleeping in a little later. 

Staying up a little later. 

Long talks with my kids on the back porch. 

Long walks with my husband. 

Not rushing from one activity to the next.

Lingering suppers on the back porch. 

More time to sit and pray. 

More time to soak in God's Word. 

Telephone conversations instead of texting. 

Sending snail mail to friends and family. 


This new life looks so different from the old life.

Very different.

The word that keeps coming to mind is "quiet".

For so long, my world and my heart have been anything but quiet. Quiet would make me uncomfortable. I did not like quiet. It scared me.

I am seeing the beauty of quiet these days.

God speaks in the quiet.

We see this in God's Word. Listen, how He speaks to Elijah the prophet....

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave." 1 Kings 19:11-13


With a slower pace, I see a lot of things that needed changing.

When we don't take time to quiet our lives, we don't see clearly. We rush through life. We miss so much. We miss the smaller, quieter things....which are the big things.

My mother- in -love sent an Easter gift by mail. It may be my favorite gift of all time.

A hummingbird feeder. So simple. Yet, so extraordinary.

When would I ever have time to sit on the back porch and watch a tiny bird sip nectar?

Now.

Daily, I anticipate watching birds come up to my little feeding station and enjoy.

I would have missed this in my old life.

I encourage you, I challenge you...

See what God is doing right where you are. Right under your roof. Right on your back porch.

He is in the quiet places and spaces.

Listen, watch for Him.

Anticipate Him.

He comes to those that seek.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

What will you do with this new place we have all been called?


“Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”
― Elisabeth Elliot





learning to embrace quiet,


jill












Apr 9, 2020

Hard and Holy Days...

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Memory Scripture: If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10

When my children were very small, my daughter woke up on Easter morning with a high fever.

There is no way she could go to church and all of the activities we had planned that day.

I was devastated.

She had the cutest little blue Easter dress, and I had the same color blue dress to wear.

Ugh. What I waste, I remember thinking.

My husband and son got dressed and went to church that Easter morning.

Presley and I were left at home, still in pajamas, disheveled and blurry eyed.

This was one of my most memorable Easter Sundays.

Instead of being miserable at home with her, I was surprised at how I enjoyed it.

No rush of getting ready. No flood of camera flashes trying to get the perfect family Easter picture.

It was calm. Peaceful. Serene.

We read the Easter story together in her children's Bible and snuggled up close in my bed.

What began as a disastrous morning, ended in a blissful quiet day at home.

This Easter, will be similar for all of us.

We will be at home. With our families. Maybe in pajamas, maybe not.

No rush to get to church on time. No rush to prepare the perfect side dish for the family Easter egg hunt. No rush to get an Easter haircut for the family.

This year will be different.

And, I have a suspicious feeling, that we will all look back on this Easter Sunday with fondness.

Peace. Quiet. Reflection. Rest. Anticipation.

Just like those disciples that sat at the feet of Jesus each day to soak in His teaching and His love....

They sat in quiet that Friday and Saturday after His death on the Cross.

Just like us...they wondered what their future would hold.

Just like us...they wanted to believe that life would somehow get back to normal. 

Just like us...they wondered...how could it ever?

Just like us...they had witnessed unbearable suffering. 

Just like us...they had regrets and doubts mixed in with their often struggling faith. 

Just like us...they waited.  They grieved. They cried. They told stories. 

They also hoped. They also  prayed. They also believed. 

Just like us. 

Imagine their faces that Sunday morning when they saw Jesus. Healthy, Whole, and Healed.

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-23

With all of my heart, I believe that we will miss these times together with our children, and loved ones under our roof.

I know, I know...it seems suffocating at times...I know all too well.

But, the hardest times are often the holiest times. 

When nothing but a thread of faith hold us together most days, that's when God delivers the greatest miracles.

We don't know what tomorrow holds...but really, did we ever?

This Easter will be one we tell stories about for many generations to come.

Savor it.



the best is yet to come,


jill










Apr 6, 2020

A heart at home...

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Memory Scripture: If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10

As I washed my hands for the millionth time one day recently, a scripture passage popped into my head...{hello Jesus}

It was this one...

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Matthew 23:26


I thought about the irony that I was scrubbing profusely to take away germs, when really, what I needed was a heart cleanse.

God cares for the cleanliness of our hearts over the cleanliness of our outer bodies.

I had to ask myself this question: Am I as concerned about my heart as I am my hands during this time?

Several days have passed since I asked that question.

God has re-routed this message to my mother heart.

Is the inside of my home as taken care of as I portray to the outside world?

God has a biblical design for families. The wife is to care, nurture, love, teach, to have self-control, to be kind, to be reverent.

Titus 2 makes it pretty clear our role as wife and mother.

 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

So often, my heart gets this all tangled up.

I remember in 2012 when I first started blogging here on SHINE Girls. My life became a crazy train of chaos. My children were small.

Writing, teaching, and trying to disciple other women became my focus. For a while.

I had big plans. Big dreams. Big visions of teaching and encouraging women.

Yet, my home was beginning to show signs of cracks.

I was not listening to my kids.

I was not teaching them as much.

I was not caring for my husband the way I needed to be during that time.

But, because I was doing "God's Work", I thought it was okay.

Until, it wasn't.

Several things began to unravel, and God caught my attention.

The very thing I was trying to teach, was exactly what I was neglecting.

We can become so obsessed by our "mission", that we neglect our greatest mission of all....

Our home life.

I liked the way women's ministry felt.

I liked the attention.

I liked pouring into others.

I liked praying for others.

I liked it all.

However, my priorities were out of whack. In a big way.

Our fruit will not be everlasting unless we first bury those seeds deep into the soils of our homes.

Sometimes, on the outside, it looks like we are doing all the godly things.

When on the inside of our homes, it looks the exact opposite.

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Matthew 23:26

I see no irony here that God has called us all back to our homes.

Do you see it?

We are circling our dinner tables again. We are talking. We are praying. We are listening to each other.

We are checking in on neighbors, instead of trying to reach the world through the internet.

When the teachers of the law asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied..

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31


We have been given this opportunity. This chance to love our family. Embrace them. Nurture them. Teach them. Disciple them.

Our reach will broaden eventually, our fruit will expand.....but it starts in the home. 

Our memory verse will remind us each day this week to take care of these little things at home. They are the big things.

Memory Scripture: If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10


desiring clean hands and a clean heart,


jill



Apr 3, 2020

Good News...

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Memory Scripture: "I sought the Lord and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Not sure about you, but I have been devouring the internet lately for GOOD NEWS.

This passage in Isaiah perfectly sums up what my heart and soul are craving...

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! Isaiah 52:7

Desperately, I am craving good news. How about you?

Today, I come bearing good news.

We have a winner in our SHINE bible give-away! The winner is MeLissa Allen!

MeLissa, you have no idea how it makes my whole entire week to be able to gift you with this amazing Bible!!

Want more good news?

This Sunday is Palm Sunday!

Let's take the time to talk about what Palm Sunday means with our families. As we lead up to Easter, let's cherish long talks and biblical conversations with our kids, friends and families.

Many of us before this time have been crunched for time. Days have been jam packed with jobs, phone calls, emails, cooking, cleaning, serving.....the list goes on.

With most of us being quarantined to our homes we have more time.

For such a time as this....we have this unique and rare opportunity.

 To teach. To learn. To talk. To listen. To laugh. To cry. To pray. 

We have been given this forced pause in our daily routines....we can use it wisely if we ask the Lord how.

God's word tells us that our times are in His Hands. Psalm 31:15

None of this is a surprise to God.

Many of us are fearful, worried, anxious. I understand.

However, we must look to Jesus--in the calm and in the storm.

There is no safer place to be.

When you need Jesus in an anxious moment, use these Names to call on Him. Over and over.


(This was copied from the Blue Letter bible website)

There is no better time to draw close to Jesus. We are approaching Easter, the Holiest day of our Christian calendar.

Much like the first disciples must have felt that first Easter, we are in great need of a miracle. We are in great need of Peace and Comfort.

He will answer that call.

He is the GOOD news.

Forever and always.



expectant,



jill




Apr 1, 2020

The Kindness Cure...

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Memory Scripture: "I sought the Lord and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

I've noticed something over these past few weeks. I bet you have too.

Kindness.

It's rampant in our community, our state, and in our country.

We have all had good intentions to show kindness, but often the follow through never happens.

Why?

Because we are busy. Busy. Busy.

The thought to do something kind for someone comes, we smile, but just as soon as the thought comes a distraction occurs. A deadline. A cramped schedule. A chaotic day.

Jesus was the ultimate Kindness Giver. Countless stories of Him stopping, touching, healing, caring, listening....

Jesus had a lot to do. But, He always had time for others. He cared about their needs. He cared about their suffering.

We also can learn a lot about kindness by the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. Here is the story:

 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Wow. The priest passed right by the suffering man. Not just passed by, but crossed to the other side of the street to avoid him. 
The Samaritan man did just the opposite. He not only stopped, he cared for him and took him in. 
The last sentence sums it up for us..."Go and do likewise."
As we are all pretty much quarantined to our homes, we still have opportunities to spread kindness. Endless opportunities. 
A sweet friend dropped off coloring journals for my daughter and I to do. (Attached with a handwipe just in case!)
My sister and her daughters made "Covid Comfort" food for friends, family, and neighbors--banana nut bread and chocolate cake! Talk about a sweet treat!
Cooking meals for elderly neighbors and leaving it at their front door. Or ordering take out for neighbors and delivering to their door. 
Dropping off essential items to neighbors that are not able to go out. 
Sending notes in the mail to parents, grandparents, friends. My daughter sent notes to all of her grandparents last week and it made their day!
Writing scriptures or encouraging words on a neighbors drive way with side walk chalk, picking flowers and leaving them on doorsteps. 
Kindness is more contagious than covid-19. 
Kindness spreads fast and it brings warmth and community even among social distancing. 
Be the sunshine today for someone. Bring JOY through acts of kindness. It doesn't have to cost a dime. 
Send a note, a text, make a phone call. 
Now is the time, because we have the time. 
Kindness cures loneliness, sadness, anxiety, depression. Not just for the recipient but for the giver. 
Let's be a part of the Kindness Cure. Let's follow the example of Jesus and the Good Samaritan. 
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Proverbs 3:3

making a kindness come-back, 

jill





























Doing unto others...

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