Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kitchen talk......

I was just sitting on the couch poring through my Better Homes and Gardens cook book.

It's a huge pink, special edition, cook book that my Momma gave me a few years ago. It's hardly been touched. Not because it's not a great book, but because I have dozens of other books on the same shelf with it that get picked up because I am a little more familiar with the recipes.

A little unknown fact about me: I love reading cookbooks. Love.

The more pictures the better. I hate reading a recipe that doesn't have a picture attached. I have to have a visual so that I know what the dish will look like.You know? Say yes. :)

This post all stemmed from me trying to make some Russian tea cakes this afternoon. I was in the mood to cook or bake. So, baking it was since I had the ingredients for this yummy treat. When I say yummy, I mean YUMMY.

My neighbor, Kelly, makes them every Christmas. She gives me a big plate full of them because she knows they are my favorite! These little devils are the reason my pants won't button come January 2nd. Seriously.

Anyway, I decided to make them on my own. I was craving some comfort food.

Not sure what happened, but they ended up falling apart. Completely. Every last little ball of them.

I remember Kelly's famous last words when I asked her if they were easy to make: "Jill, you could make these blindfolded."



As I looked at the little crumbled cookies in the pound of powdered sugar they were supposed to be rolled in, I felt a wee bit sorry for myself.

I thought: "Seriously, Jill? Can you do anything right?"

Not kidding. I had these thoughts.

My mind was spinning at all of the things that I did not excel in. The enemy was having a hay day with me.

Actually, I give him no credit. My flesh was having a hay day with my mind. Yep, that's it.

After sweeping up the crumbs and powdered sugar, I sat down with my cookbook. The one mentioned above.

I'll try another recipe tomorrow was my exact thought. I will make something really new and yummy. I will. I will. I will.

I was determined to make something good to make up for the failed Russian tea cakes. I never liked Russia anyway. Too.darn.cold.

This same time one year ago, I heard the Lord calling me to draw closer to Him in His Word. I could literally feel Him pursuing me like never before.

It was then and there that SHINE began. It all began with His pursuing, my reacting, and His faithfulness.

Funny how a year can change you.

I've been sifted and molded and sifted some more this past year.

All in His timing of course.

My heart is in a new place as the old year ends and a new year begins.

Last year it was an anticipation, a longing.

This year, it is more of a settled peace. A Holy Contentment. Not contentment in the fact that I am where I need to be in my faith journey...because I have such a long way to go. Like, millions of miles.

More like a contentment with who I am, where I am on this journey, and who He created me to be.

Just like my baking disaster from today, I know that perfection is not an option. It never will be.

However, when I do fail--like with the tea cakes--I will get back up, sweep the floor, and try again.

With each failure, I will learn something new. I will be more equipped for the next journey.

I am learning that it really is a day by day journey with Him. If I try to skip ahead a few pages, it never works out. He wants every moment to be accounted for.

He uses each second as a teaching opportunity. To grow me in the areas that are too tiny for me to even see. He wants every crevice filled. Every last one of them.

looking for a new recipe,


Lessons learned in 2012....

A few things I have learned this year in 2012:

  • less really is more.
  • life really isn't about me. and it never was.
  • humble people are rare. 
  • but, when you find them, you know it and your life is changed.
  • people want notoriety and they want to be noticed.
  • rare is the person that chooses to stand in the background and push others forward to shine bright.
  • i have a few of these people in my life and they are true jewels.
  • friendship is about quality, not quantity. this has been a long, hard lesson for me. 
  • i am not the girl that i used to be. and that's okay.
  • i am much more comfortable in my own skin than i was even a year ago.
  • it's okay if others are not comfortable with who i am. (this is huge for me)
  • i cannot make everyone happy. this one is worth repeating.
  • my job is is to live out God's plan for me, not what other people expect from me. 
  • your true friends will love you even on your off days. they will even love you more.
  • my family knows me best. and i love that.
  • it is rare to find someone that gives without wanting recognition. but they are out there. i have recently met a few. 
  • i am not as hard on myself as i used to be. 
  • i want to make others feel better after spending time with me, not worse.
  • i am learning to be interested in others, instead of trying to be interesting to others. 
  • i prefer myself blonde. although, i like experimenting with color. i always go back to blonde.
  • it's fun to take extra time to look a little better when going out in public. i used to think it made me seem selfish. 
  • of course, i am also learning to be fine when i don't look the greatest. 
  • it's okay if my house is not immaculate. we do live here. 
  • i am learning to cherish the little moments. and not be distracted by my phone, the computer, etc. 
  • my children are always watching me....always. what am i doing that they will pick up on?
  • if i don't teach my kids about God, who will?
  • the things that seem hard to me now, i will miss one day. i know this.
  • i need God every single day.
  • i am okay with Him being a crutch for me. i cannot face day to day decisions without Him.
  • i believe He made me like I am, so i would depend on Him more. seriously.
  • lem likes when i help him. he is a side by side partner. it makes him happy when we are working together.
  • i like encouragement from him. i recently told him that was really all i needed from him. just tell me i am doing a good job. :)
  • i trust Lem more than ever. i respect his decisions.
  • i have learned to not go against him because i will always regret it.
  • many people do not understand this. they think it's weak. little do they know it takes more strength to do this than to go against our men. 
  • lem and i are very different, and it is a good thing.
  • God honors obedience to our husbands. every single time.
  • if i could tell wives one thing, it would be to respect and honor your hubby. period.
  • i get tired sometimes and want to hide away with my family for awhile.
  • then, i am ready to emerge and be social again.
  • i think it's normal to be this way. at least normal for me right now.
  • lem is much more social than i am, and i am learning to appreciate that about him.
  • i love people, but love being with just my 3 the most.
  • i have a thing about traditions. but i am learning to be okay if they don't always pan out.
  • my children are growing and changing. i am starting to embrace this instead of holding onto the past.
  • i am okay with my kids not being happy with decisions that lem and i have to make that are best for them.
  • it used to kill me when they were unhappy. now i know if it's best for them, then it's best for them. 
  • happiness does not always equal what's best for them.
  • i am learning to be wiser with my time. it's something that i can never get back.
  • i am learning that some things can wait, and some things just cannot.
  • i am learning that it is okay to not be able to go to every function. this year has been a year of me missing out on a lot of things with my friends.
  • this used to be hard for me. but, now i see that it is the Lord wanting me to be okay whatever and wherever He has called me to be.
  • my mission at home is the most important thing in my life.
  • if He calls me outside of my home, then it is only because my home is stable and i am ready to be used  in another area.
  • sometimes we get this backwards. we want to minister to the world, and all the while our hubbies, and children get neglected.
  • i often ask lem: how am i doing? can i do anything to improve being a wife to you or a momma to our children? 
  • if Lem is feeling happy and cared for, i feel good and i feel i am right where i need to be.
  • i am starting to see that God calls us to the little things because they mean the most to Him. big things are good too, but we must get the little things down pat first.
  • He trains us in ways that we don't even realize to make sure we are ready for what He has next for us.
  • obedience to God is the key to life.
  • nothing brings His blessings and His peace like obedience.

I think I will stop here. Presley is beckoning me to watch her dance upstairs. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let's Skate on Eight.....

Presley turned 8 on December 1st.

I still can hardly believe that my baby girl is 8.

Here are some things about my Presley:

finished first grade
learned to roller skate
lost more teeth
took gymnastics
cheered for the first time
still loves to cook
learned to ice skate
she loves writing notes (just like her momma!)
her favorite thing to do is play school after school!
she loves make-up (not sure where she gets that from) ;)
she loves camping
she is my side kick in life!
she can braid her own hair. really, she can.
she has the cutest feet ever. like, ever ever.
her hair is so thick. i am so envious. :)
she loves Jesus!

Okay, I could go on...

Like, forever.

Presley has been wanting to have a roller skating party since her cousin Anna-Joy had her party back in July. So, our town just got a new skating rink several months ago, and we had the party there! Yay!

Here are some pics from her fun party!

having some snacks

melissa and her sweet james 
playing some roller skating games!

Artazia and I 

Jenny and Tyler so sweet!

The birthday star!

Anna-Joy, Presley, Cali, and Karoline


favorite friends: Karoline, Presley, Andrea, Annabel

Danny and Rob

sweet Thomas

Maw Maw & Presley

can you believe Wal-Mart did this cute cake? less than $30 bucks!

beautiful Anna-Joy

presley and andrea held hands almost the entire time! so cute!

annabel, karoline, anna-joy, cali, presley, andrea, and ashley

good friends, ava & presley

my favorite girl!

i love her face!

make a wish!

Happy Birthday, my sweet Princess Presley!

You are the most thoughtful, sweet, kind, compassionate, loving and BEAUTIFUL girl in the whole  world! 

I love you always and forever,


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Give it away....

I met a lady while our church fed a local homeless shelter. She is precious. She has 8 children. All boys.

She told me bits and pieces of her story, which were laced with Joy, Hope, and Faith.

I told Lem that I would be curled up in a ball on the floor sucking my thumb if I had been through what she has been through.

Long story short, she is now my friend. My SHINE friends donated over 100 bottles of laundry detergent to her shelter after she expressed that her children's clothes often could not be washed. (heart breaking.)

A couple of friends and I took the detergent to the shelter and we got to speak to my new friend again.

I left the shelter and the song, "Give this Christmas Away" by Matthew West came on.

My eyes spilled over with tears and i could feel my heart melting. I felt the Lord tell me to help my new friend this Christmas. Not just me, but to ask my friends to help her as well.

I envisioned my cozy, wonderful Christmas and Christmas eve with my family. Then, I envisioned her and her boys at that shelter on Christmas day.

On Thursday, I sent an email to some friends asking for small donations to help my friend this Christmas. I prayed all day that God would just rain in the blessings on her family.

It's Sunday, and already, the donations have been pouring in. I am literally in awe. I had NO idea that God had THIS kind of outpouring in mind.

There's more to this story, but I cannot share at this time. I will just say that truly the Lord loves my new friend. He loves her ABUNDANTLY.

If you are reading my blog, and you would like to Give some of Your Christmas Away, contact me. If you feel led to donate even a few dollars to my new friend, it would be much appreciated. My email is

I asked my new friend what she wanted for Christmas. She told me all that she ever wanted was a picture of she and her boys to frame for their OWN place one day. She said she wanted them to see how they ALWAYS were together. No matter what.

A friend of mine, whom I JUST met last Tuesday, has offered to take their pictures for this family.

What!!?? Really, God?? This SAME friend has a clothing donation center and said this family could come and get whatever they needed.

I am still in SHOCK at God's timing and His people working hand in hand to help others. He sends just the right people at just the right time.

My heart is so changed and so raw. My eyes have been peeled open in a whole new way this year.

I never want to be blind again. I never want to "not see" again.

Will you take this challenge with me? The challenge to give this Christmas away?

You will be so glad you did. YOU will be the one blessed. Guaranteed.

eyes wide open,


What if I told you?

You have the power
To give someone hope
Far beyond their wildest dreams

What if I told you it's right there in your hands?
In your hands

It's hard to imagine
How something so small
Can make all the difference
Tear down the tallest wall

What if December looked different this year?
What if we all just

Give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart
Don't let it stay there
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed
By the gift you receive
When you give this Christmas away

It's feeding the hungry
It's serving the poor
It's telling the orphan
You're not forgotten anymore

It's doing what love does
Even when no one's watching you

Give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart
Don't let it stay there
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed
By the gift you receive
When you give this Christmas away

For God so loved the world, He gave His only son
So we could be His hands, His feet, His love
His love