Monday, October 14, 2013


So, today is bittersweet.

I am taking a break from my daily SHINE Girls posts. I will still write, just not everyday.

Instead of dragging on and on, I will just post on here the same thing I posted on the SHINE blog today.

Today's Post:

Dear SHINE sisters,

As I sat down to write you, I opened my Bible for strength and the "words" to say to you today.

You will never believe the verse that I turned to as I anxiously awaited God's leading in this post.

"Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5. 

This verse is at the very top of this website, it is engraved on a necklace that I wear around my neck that my dear sister gave me. This verse is one of the verses SHINE girls was found upon.

God showed me this verse very early in our ministry, day two or three, I think. It has been our life verse for this ministry.

So, to have it blazing in my face when I opened my Bible just now, is well.....only a Jesus thing. That's for sure.

22 months ago, God asked me to follow this amazing journey with Him. A journey of seeking Him daily in His Word. A journey of pursuing Him like never before.

Many of you have been on this journey with me since day one. Many of you have just joined recently. Either way, my heart is overjoyed at the thought of all of you standing shoulder to shoulder to me as we trek through His Awesome and Holy Word each day.

Learning, growing, falling down, picking each other back up...every single day.

I never knew such a community of fellowship could exist among women, until the Lord showed me with my very own eyes.

The Lord is speaking very clearly to me now. When we are in His Word, we cannot help but to hear Him, friends. It's just that simple.

Last week, I spent a glorious Fall break with my children. I didn't write or blog. In fact, I even sent an email to many of my friends telling them that I was taking a "texting" break. I felt the Lord leading me to a distraction-free week.

A week of hearing from Him, and Him only.

I enjoyed every peaceful second of last week. God was showing me the beauty in the quiet. The whisper of Peace. The fulfillment of Him and Him alone.

My children are still young. As of 14 months ago, we have a third child under our roof. Life is very very full. Like, many of your lives.

The ministry that I desire most, is in my  home.

This ministry must come first if He is to bless me with more ministry opportunities. The overflow of my home ministry, will naturally flow into other ministries--if it is His will.

"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones." 
Luke 16:10

This verse has been on "repeat" in my heart for weeks now. God is telling me, "Jill, I have entrusted to you these little small people under your roof. Be faithful in training them up, be faithful in your time with them. My desires become your desires when you are faithful with the small things. The small things are often overlooked when you  focus on the bigger things. Trust me in this."

Everything that we have done on SHINE--the reading, the Monday memory verses, the fun Friday challenges, Serve-day Thursdays, etc...all of this was stemmed from my own home life with my children. We started these things before I ever dreamed many of you would be doing this with us. Hand in hand, day by day.

He was showing me that all those talks in the car, those verses the children and I sang and memorized together...they have all been part of a bigger plan. A plan that could only be fulfilled when the smaller plan was practiced--day in, day out.

As I rested last week in His Presence, and sought Him in His Word, He spoke to me. His gentle, sweet whisper teaching me, guiding me, pursuing me.

He's telling me to rest in Him for a while. In order to pour out to others, I must be getting filled by Him. I cannot run too far ahead, or I will get weary and tired.

Maybe this is a season, and then He will call me back to this online ministry. Maybe this is the end.

I'm not sure. Only the Lord knows for sure.

This is what I do know: I don't want to miss a day with Him. Not even a second. When He speaks, I want to listen. Not just listen, but obey. Even when my flesh cries and doesn't understand, I know He knows what's best for me.

As I am typing this my daughter is brushing my hair. I cannot help but to think of the symbolism of this act taking place.

This time is short with her under my roof.

Our greatest ministries are often the ones right under our noses. The ones that may get overlooked at times.

I encourage all of us--to not overlook the small things. Those small things are the really big things to God. Those small things become the really big things.

Thankfully, God has given me the gift of a Wednesday night group to continue on with through my church. A face-to-face, heart-to-heart group.

SHINE girls will continue. Just not in this format for now.

I will still write, oh yes. My writing is my expression of my love for Him. I will still post what He is teaching me, what I am learning--when He prompts me to write about it.

I encourage you to stay in His Word. Stay accountable in a small group, or a bible study. You may think you don't need this, but you do. We all do.

The Lord teaches us to connect with each other--not just online, or texting or phone calls --but through meeting, praying, encouraging, lifting each other up.

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, 
but encourage one another, 
especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."
 Hebrews 10:25

Please keep reading His Word. It's Life. 

To continue on with us, you can access the reading plan at this site:

{this is actually the whole 3 year plan! we are on year one}

My SHINE girls Wednesday night group and I will still be reading, still be studying, and still be meeting. 

One last note: As I cried my eyes out at church yesterday about this with two of my mentors--Becky Foy and Robyn Bailey-- they both said this:

"Sometimes we miss the GREAT things that God has for us because we get tied up with so many "good" things."

Oh, girls, let's don't miss the GREAT things. Let's listen. Let's obey. Let's follow Him. Wherever He leads.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

missing you already,


Saturday, September 28, 2013

A letter to the girls...The married kind.....

celebrating on a little mountain get-away..
courtesy of Rick and Jane. ;)

On September 26th, Lem and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. {how can this be?}

Just a few thoughts on the subject.....

Our marriage is not perfect. In fact, it is far from it.

I am not always in a good mood. {neither is he.}

I am not always cheery. {neither is he}

Some days are hard. Well, many days actually.

My temper and my tongue go haywire at times. {still working on this one}

He has better control over this than I do. {shoot}

If I am honest, I will tell you that marriage is not easy. It teaches me to be a giver, and not always a taker.

I've discovered that when I give, and not always demand my own way, he tends to be more of a giver.

Sounds crazy, right?

My body is not the same, my face is not the same {it has a lot more lines}. However, Lem accepts me and loves me and makes me feel the same.

I have tried to change him, to mold him, to create the "husband" I think he should be.

This does not work.

Let me repeat: This does not work.

When I learned to approach this "without words", as 1 Peter 3:1 tells us, things started changing.

When I learned to quit nagging, persisting, insisting, and demanding he change....

His ears could finally hear the Holy Spirit.

The clanging in his ears from my voice was preventing the Holy Spirit's Voice from being heard.

I thought I was doing the right thing all of those years...

When, in fact, I just had to trust the Lord with him. I had to learn to realize that God loves Lem more than me. I had to realize that God could change him, but I could not.

The biggest revelation was that I was the one in need of change. {say what?!}

My heart was in the wrong place. Always demanding, expecting, and not content unless he was doing what I wanted him to do.

I wanted him to do a bible study, he did not want to.

I wanted to be more involved in church, he did not want to.

I wanted to make him have quiet time with me, he did not want to.

I wanted him to read the bible with me, he did not want to.

I wanted him to quit drinking alcohol, he did not want to.

I wanted him to be like some of my friends godly husbands {and I even told him that many times}, he did not want to.

Notice the first word in each of the above sentences??

Yes, I. Me, myself, and I.

When I let go of my expectations, and focused on my own walk, my own relationship with Christ....

Something incredible happened.

My heart softened. My heart changed.

Not only that, but the icing on the cake was that Lem started to change.

God began to draw us closer, when I stepped back and let the Lord do His thing.

Who knew??

As women, we like to have control over things. We like to tie things up in a pretty little ribbon just the way we like them.

However, what He is showing me....

Is that when I let go. Give Him complete control. Surrender.....

All of those things I try to super glue together.... fall apart.

And the most glorious thing happens....

He turns that mess into a masterpiece.

He sees the act of surrender and obedience, and then He is able to do His Will. His Thing. His Perfect Plan begins to take place.

If you are in a marriage today that is struggling for air, on the brink of separation, in dire need of refreshing....

I encourage you to give it to Him.

Forget about trying in your own power to change things. It doesn't work. Never has and never will.

Surrender that marriage to the Lord. It's His to begin with anyway, right?

I also encourage you to be the change you want for him.

Yes, YOU be the change.

What do you want from your husband?

Be what you want him to be. Be consistent. Don't do it to force a change in him, do it because that's what God calls you to do.

This has nothing to do with your man. This has everything to do with Jesus Christ. Honoring Him. Period.

"Love never fails", my friends.

It will always be the right way.

I will still struggle with my expectations. I will still struggle with demanding my way.

However, I now know that nothing will change, unless I change.

Let me remember this, Father. Help us all to remember.

"We can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will." 1 John 5:14

"Ask anything in My name, and I will do it." John 14:14

"Call upon me and I will answer you" Jeremiah 33:3

"Above all else, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" 1 Peter 5:5

Father, soften our hearts. Help us to not be demanding, selfish, and self-focused in our marriage. Show us how to love without conditions and expectations. The kind of Love that You show us. Help us to put our men first, above all others, except You Lord. Give us the desire to be a better spouse. Give us the desire to be a giver, and not a taker. We ask that you weed out pride, and replace it with humility. Praise You, Father. You want our marriages rock solid, Father. Mend our hearts, repair the breeches, and nurse us back to health in these areas. Forgive us for not showing love. Forgive us for anything we have put before our marriages. Fall fresh on us today, Holy Spirit. We receive.

putting the super-glue away,


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Diary of a Rural Housewife....

I love mornings. However, I am not always pleasant or attractive for that matter in the morning.

I do not sleep in cute matching pajamas. Nope. My shirts are greased stained, and ill-fitting, but, oh so comfy.

My children often get cereal for dinner. Because I am tired. They love cereal, I am pooped, so it works.

I hate packing lunch boxes. {shocking, huh}. I secretly hope that the school cafeteria will offer something delightful sounding to the kids so they will eat at school. This rarely happens.

I pray while I am packing the little lunch boxes. Because I dread it so.

I love crock pot meals. You guessed it. Easy. One dish, one meal, one cleanup. Oh yeah.

I loathe laundry.

My baskets show this disdain.

Question? How can you wash every thread in the house, and still wind up with a full basket within 24 hours? Yeah, I am still scratching my head on that one.

Laundry multiples. Like fungus. It grows and grows.

I often re-paint my toe nails. Over and over instead of using a fresh coat. By the time I am ready to remove, I need a paint solvent to melt that stuff off.

I love being asked over for dinner. It's so nice to not have to be the one preparing the food, cleaning the table, and too tired to eat by the time I sit down.

school lunch anyone?


Thursday, August 29, 2013

One year later.....

So, I have this little person in my home. He's been here a little over a year now.

He has completely captured my heart. Which is a complete understatement.

Just tonight, I saw him in the den watching t.v. He was sitting really close, and I just watched the back of his little lead.

A few minutes later, he bolted into the kitchen and ran right into me by accident.

He looked up and said, "Oops, sorry."

I picked him up and spun him around and planted a big kiss on his cheek.

He was stiff as a board and certainly did not melt into my embrace. In fact, quite the opposite.

This happens a lot. Each time, my heart gets a little {a big} ping.

Every time this happens I get this picture in my head.

The picture of the many times that Jesus has been right there. Waiting on me to fall headlong into His Arms.

And, I don't.

In fact, many times I have been stiff. I have been resistant to His Love.

I wasn't ready. I wasn't able to receive it. Or at least didn't think I could.

God keeps speaking to my heart this word: Unconditional

Love is unconditional when it's not based on any conditions.

Like non-responsiveness. Like rejection. Like indifference.

When we are able to love unconditionally we get a glimpse of the Father's Love for us. It's almost too much to take in.

I thought that when the Lord laid it on my heart almost 3 years ago that we would foster, that the fostering would be to help, to nurture, to care for a child in need.

The definition of "foster" is this: "encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good)."

Little did I know that the fostering would be for my heart. The fostering has been for me. To encourage and promote the development of my heart.

To be able to see life in a view that I could have never seen otherwise.

Instead of wanting to "save a child", God is showing me a heart that needed fostering, saving, and growing.

My heart. 

Although our fostering situation looks way different than I had envisioned, the premise is still the same.

We can never put God in a box. He will bust that box wide open every single time.

It's been a year since we have had a new place setting at the table, and a third little lunch to pack daily.

I'm so grateful for this opportunity. It can be hard, it can be tiring, it can be mentally exhausting. Most days I feel like I am a miserable failure at this.

Then, just when I want to drown in my sorrows, a little voice will holler down the hall, "I love you too!"

When this happens, you could swim in the puddle that my melted heart has left on the floor.

learning to love,


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Happily Frazzled Female....

Somebody please tell me how we have a 7th grade child, and our youngest is in 3rd grade? Please explain.

I have no idea how this happened. We just had these kids a few years ago, and suddenly I cannot bear to go to sleep and wake up to another day of them getting older.

After running with a friend today, we saw a friend holding her newborn {like, not even a week old} baby.

It was hard to even remember my children ever being so tiny. A lump formed in my throat as I thought this: the closest I will ever get to having more babies is to have grandchildren one day.


Nobody tells you how hard it is to watch your babies grow up. NOBODY.

Or, quite possibly they did, I was just too busy juggling bottles, and cleaning up spit-up on my shirt and pants to notice.

I feel like I've been a haggard mess since August 5th, 2001, the day Joseph was born.

My body is different. Like, way different.

My attention to details is severely lacking. I'm lucky if I remember to put on my deodorant. I'm not kidding.

I do still wear make-up, ONLY because I like to make myself feel a little more normal.

Oh, but I love this life.

I have a lump in my throat the size of Hawaii....

I will miss this.

I already miss this, and it's still happening.

What will I do with myself with a quiet house???

I don't even want to think about it.

I know that God will prepare me and equip me when that season comes. However, now the thought of it just seems extremely depressing....and, well, lonely.

Lem will be with me. He will be thrilled to have me all to himself. I hope! ;)

For now, I will ENJOY every moment of this time being frazzled, haggard, and FULL.

My life is full. My plate is full. My nest is full.

And I love it.

So much.

Thank you Lord for this season. I will cherish it. I will see the JOY in each day.

Who knew God had such GOODNESS in store for me? Thank you, Father.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Are you sure, Lord?

So, the Lord has been talking to me today. Big time.

It started a few days ago actually. I had to sit down and write about it, because I thought it may encourage one of you.

I've been feeling so torn lately. I have felt the calling for a while to get plugged into my church more with bible studies.

This Summer, the opportunity fell right in my lap, literally.

I was so excited and joyful because I KNEW it was God's timing for me to begin a new season of leading a small group study.

However, I was also a little sad.

I would miss my Tuesday night girls in Madison.

Could I possibly do both?

Not likely as school starts back up and activities are in full swing.

I've been torn.

I know that the Lord had brought me into this Tuesday night bible study group in Madison a few years ago. I still feel very tied to them.

So, why would He pull me another way??

My heart is a little selfish in the whole thing because I want to do both groups.

I've been asking myself for months now if I am making the right decision. Am I following the Lord? What about all that I have invested in the relationships from my Tuesday night group?


My revelation came from an unlikely place.

A friend of mine was telling me of a pastor who was leaving a church. Some of the members were not happy about it.

One of the members asked him this question: "How do you know that it is the Lord calling you to leave? How do you know that it is not just your own selfish ambition?"

This was his answer..I am paraphrasing in a big way.

"You know it's His calling when you are scared to death. You know it's His calling when it makes you uncomfortable. You know it's His calling when it would be easier to stay. You know it's His calling when He lines it all up, but it still takes a  leap of Faith to change."

This has stuck with me for several days now.

This is exactly how I was feeling. Scared to death, uncomfortable, majorly unequipped, yet I have had every assurance that this had to be His way for me.

Fear would grip my heart and I would think: "If I knew with certainty that I would be a good small group leader, if I knew that ladies would come, if I knew that God would anoint me in this uncharted water...would I go?"

The answer was always Yes.

However, we don't always know with certainly. We just have to take steps in obedience. Trusting His lead even when it's not the easy way. Even when it would be so much easier to stay where it's comfortable, where your friends are.

I'm thankful to God for loving me enough to show me this Truth today.

He's so faithful, y'all. He really is.

He has called us to make disciples of all nations. That is a HUGE call. HUGE.

We cannot do that being comfortable all the time.

We must take a risk. We must keep moving. We must put our will aside and submit to His.

Has He asked you to change course? Does it scare you?

Trust Him.

Take His hand and walk over that mountain to the other side. The Promise of His faithfulness is just over the bend.

learning to go with the flow of His course,


Friday, August 9, 2013

12 Candles.....

Joseph has officially claimed his 12th birthday as: 


Those are his words. 

We spent his birthday at the Georgia Aquarium. Momma Jane took all of us. 

It was SO much fun!

He then requested The Varsity for lunch. Mmmmmm. {yes, i need to go run. for miles. and miles.}

After all of that, we went to see his Maw Maw and Paw Paw and they took him to Cracker Barrel for dinner.

Does it get much better than that? Wow.

The day before his birthday we had a family dinner party at our house. The Crowes, The Allgoods, and The Jaynes came over to celebrate our August babies...Amberlee and Joseph. 

Birthdays are the BEST!

Happy Birthday, Joseph

Fun cousins! Behind Joseph--Graham, Presley and Danny

4-d movie

swimming with the sharks!
{well. not really. but it was cute}

Presley pets a {fake} beluga whale.
these are my favorite.

with the penguins! presley said they stink--she's holding her nose

electric eel

his present. hanging on the wall. good grief. boys.
{i think Lem likes this just as much as Joseph}

celebrating Amberlee and Joseph! our August birthday babies.

Joseph's favorite chocolate cake--made by Aunt Angie.

Kim made some yummy banana pudding cake
 {and a gluten-free one!}

my beautiful birthday girl--amberlee!

look at my boy!

The Crowes, The Hills, The Allgoods, and the Jaynes.

singing to Joseph

make a wish!

12 candles. wow.

Joseph & Amberlee
12 & 19

Monday, August 5, 2013

The day my heart left me.....

On this day 12 years ago, I became the only thing I ever really wanted to be....a mother.

Of course, the only other thing I ever really wanted to be was a wife. They kind of go hand in hand. :)

I will never forget my mom telling me when I was 18 years old that I HAD to go to college.

In my mind, I knew I did. However, in my heart, I only wanted to one day get married to a good man, have babies, and stay at home to raise them.

All three of those things have been given to me by my awesome Lord.

The day Joseph was born, my life changed. Forever.

My heart no longer belonged to myself. It was ripped out of my chest and now encapsulated this 8lb 4oz baby boy.

I will never, ever forget the first time Joseph and I locked eyes. He had been crying when they took him from me. They washed him off and laid him on a table beside me. The doctors were sewing me up, and doing all that fun stuff that doctors do.

My eyes glanced over to the right side of my bed, and there it happened. Joseph and I locked eyes. His cry became a hush in a mere second.

The excruciating pain and weariness that my body was screaming from suddenly ceased.

Joy and peace unspeakable filled my body. A feeling I cannot explain with mere words.

It was just Joseph and me. The world stopped at that moment.

I have told him this story over and over. He loves hearing it. I love telling it.

I've never known anyone like Joseph. He's smart, caring, compassionate, witty, loving...and so much more.

Everyone I have ever known tells me how special he is. He just has that something. That something that makes him radiate God's love. God's peace.

He makes me a better person. Every single day.

I often {almost daily} say that I cannot believe these children came from my loins. Impossible.

The hardest part of being a momma to a little boy is the detachment that slowly starts happening around the age of 10-ish. It's heart crushing.

However, I know it's the way God designed it. That Independence. That man-hood thing beginning.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I would put him right back in my womb if I could. But, I can't.

The world needs Joseph. The world needs Joseph's heart.

He makes this world a better place.

The Lord has big plans for our Joseph. I just know it.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Our Joseph

my little beach boy

first day of Kindergarten

Joseph and Presley 2005

Royce and Joseph--best cousins

1 year old

4 years old

learning to ride his bike

scraped knee

first trip to the beach (6 weeks old)--mommy jane holding him!

my favorite picture

baby on the beach--2002

Elvis lip curl

my love--2009

Indiana and super girl

ready for the beach!

reading to his sister

missing teeth

my beach boys

Mothers Day 2013--my gift.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Be Quiet.....

This is our Monday Memory Verse on SHINE this week.

I love this verse.

Perhaps because being still is hard to do these days. Especially as women. As wives, as mothers, as daughters, as sisters, as friends.


My mind is always going a million miles per hour. Thinking of this and that. That and this.

Lem always says that he has zero things going through his brain at any given moment. This fascinates me.

So, to be still is hard. Like, real hard.

This week, I have tried to live stillness. The kids and I went to the beach, so it made it a little easier to be still. I told the SHINE girls that I would not post this week, so that I could be quiet, and to give them an opportunity to be quiet before the Lord as well.

Along with this verse, the Lord nudged me to give up some things this month in order to live in stillness.

August is anything but still around this house. School starts, activities begin, carpool begins, and homework folders and classroom duties for 3 children.

It is super full.

It's been two days since I gave up a couple of things in order to be still. I really do not miss them. At all.

Twitter and Instagram were my two things. I write this so that I can keep myself accountable. My children are holding me accountable as well....and they love it.

These two things are not bad for me, they are just another distraction  at times.

God wants me still. So, still it is.

In a world that is anything but still....can we really be still before the Lord?

Is it really possible to quiet and wean our souls before Him so that we can hear His whisper?

I think it is.

When I was explaining this verse to my children, I gave them this example: Imagine you have on headphones. Now imagine I am in the same room as you and whisper something to you. Could you hear me? No. However, if you take off your headphones and anticipate my voice, you will hear me.

I think they understood. Or at least I hope they did.

They have decided to take on a challenge as well. They will write in a gratitude journal this month. Taking the time to be quiet and to be still before Him as well.

So, I offer you the same challenge. Will you be still before God this month?

Can you think of something to give up in honor of spending more time in His Presence?

I think as a new school year approaches, this will be just what I need.

He's always speaking , I just don't always hear Him.

Bring on the quiet,


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Our Summer so far.....

Because I know y'all have just been dying to know what the Hill's have been up to...{just go with it}

A little slide show of our Summer---so far. 

In no particular order. I was too lazy to chronological-ize. {yeah, that's not a word}

this happens when she gets my phone. which is often.
there are a million more just like it.
i will spare you the presley-selfies.
only a mother could love them {a million times over}

happy birthday paw paw!
a little run with the girls. from left: mari, erin, melissa, me
a rare occurrence during the summer.
side note--Presley took the picture, which explains the great view of
the cemetery to our right. love my little photographer!

my sister did my hair for the FIRST time at her school salon!
and my mom's too!
i am so proud of her!!!

Womens ECC SHINE event
{LOVE these ladies!}
my little darling after braces.
yes, i cried.
are you surprised?
yeah, i didn't think so.

i mean, seriously.
these two cannot come from my loins.

Jordan {my nephew} is home from the Navy...briefly.
isn't he handsome?!
We are so proud of this kid! {i mean-- man!}

girls night out--Japanese dinner!
presley and her tongue-sticking-out face.
it never fails.

she does this day in--day out.
i hurt all over just looking at it. 

because i knew you needed a good laugh.
you're welcome.
{side note---i now see where presley gets that tongue-sticking-out thing from.}
this totally may be our Christmas card. yeah, not kidding.
VBS at ECC 2013

oh the silliness never subsides.
i find random pictures like this on my phone...daily.