Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Few Christmas Pics

We truly had a fantastic Christmas with our sweet girls.  We were able to travel and visit most of our family, and so missed the ones we didn't get to see.  Being home with tons of new toys has been so exciting for the girls, and a break for mom and dad.  They have been extremely occupied!  We cannot wait to get back to really blogging as things settle down a bit, but until then we just wanted to share a few pics of our babes enjoying Christmas.

Aubrey, of course, is lovin' on a baby. 
She could never have too many. 
Her bedroom is literally a baby orphanage!


Mommy and Cinderella Kylee
Somehow this picture says she's kinda proud of her mommy.


Krazy Kylee having serious fun. 
 We didn't realize her mouth was that big!


Only 3, and so girly.
 Kylee loves her some clothes!


This picture says excitement!
 We took this one before the first gift was opened.
You can see the joy glisten in Aubrey's eyes, and it's all over Kylee's face.


Once again, lovin' on a sweet baby.
 This one really sucks the bottle and paci.  Amazing.


Kylee got a little Strawberry Shortcake collection.
She was so proud of those!

We hope your Christmas was filled with joy, and we pray God's richest blessings on you in the New Year!

~Josh and Jill

Monday, December 20, 2010

Apply it to Me Monday

Something about Christmas time makes your kids seem ten times cuter than they already are.  Lately I've been listening to some of the adorable things Kylee says.  Things like:

  •  I don't want to watch Baby WiseCom. (aka Baby Einstein)

  •   I want ____________ (just fill in the blank... you name it, she wants it) for Christen. (aka Christmas)

  •   Mom, can you bring me my purple blanket and baby Chica?  (aka Cheetah)

  •  When laying her down at night, she makes sure we put in the "Christmas Tree" music for her lullabies.
  Aubrey loves to tell Josh "No ma'am" very firmly when she thinks he's cutting up too much.  When he attempts to tickle her or "get" her, she'll say, "Get Sister!"  When I'm busy cooking, cleaning, or doing anything else that takes my attention off of her, she'll say "That's enough of that fill in the blank, Mom!"    My favorite thing is the new and occasional, "I love you, Mom."  Melts my heart.

With thoughts of Christmas and thankfulness for a precious little family to share it with, my mind keeps going back to the scripture in Isaiah 9:6.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."


There have been some years at Christmas when we were able to give the gifts we really wanted to give, and there have been some years we didn't have as much to give as we would like to.  Somehow, it's easy for Christmas to seem more special to us if we have more to give.  In truth, no matter what's in our bank account or under our tree, we always have the gift of Jesus.  The neat thing is, it's a gift to have and to give all at the same time.  Christmas is the time we get to celebrate Him!  He came as a tiny babe so we could know and experience God.  What a Savior.  What a friend.  What an incredible gift!

Something we have learned in our lives is that when we are walking with Jesus everyday, allowing Him to fill our emptiness and govern our lives, we are filled with peace.  I'm not sure where I read this quote, but it is written in my Bible underneath this scripture.  This is what it says, "The key to peace is authority.  When we allow the Prince of Peace to govern our lives, peace either immediately or ultimately results."  When I think of the government of my personal life resting on Jesus' shoulders, it's a huge relief to me.  That means it's not resting on mine.  I'm not weighed down with something I wasn't meant to carry.  I know God wants what is best for me, and He sees so much further into the future and into eternity than I could ever begin to see.  Sometimes obeying God in some areas of our life seems like a sacrifice that we do not completely understand at the time.  Oh, but the peace that will result.  Sometime down the road, we will look back and understand exactly how God was at work for our good! 

Thank you God, for Jesus!  Thank you Jesus, for your peace!  Merry Christmas to all of you.  May God fill your life with His peace as you allow Him to govern your life!
~Josh and Jill

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Scripture Spirals for the New Year

I just have to say I am so thankful for all the wonderful Bible Studies we get to share in by Beth Moore and so many other wonderful women teachers out there.  If you are a woman in Shreveport and are not able to make our Monday evening Bible Study, I pray God makes a way for you to get to be there.  It is one of the greatest delights in my life to allow God's Word to be poured into my heart through these types of studies.  Honestly, it's hard to even imagine life without it.  It has brought such encouragement and strength to my walk with God.  When His Word becomes living and active inside of us, it is powerful beyond measure. 

Many of you out there who know Josh and I very well know that we keep a spiral index notebook for scripture memory.  Every 1st and 15th of the month we assign a new scripture to memorize together and apply to our everyday living.  Let me tell you, it really has a "WOW" impact on our lives and ministry!  Many of you know because you are memorizing this way as well now.  God is just so good in how He uses other godly people to inspire us to take challenges to grow spiritually and to overcome strongholds in our lives.  I read Beth Moore's blog one day and found out about the "Siesta Scripture Memory Team" there in Houston.  Every 1st and 15th of each month, they memorize a scripture together.  While reading it, God so gently spoke to my heart that Josh and I needed to do exactly that.  We were walking through a difficult season, and I cannot begin to tell you the sustenance those scriptures brought us.  We saw breakthroughs and miracles take place in our lives and the lives of those around us while standing on the scriptures we were memorizing.

I'm sharing all this, because I want to share a blog post by Beth Moore with you!  Her team has designed a 2011 Siesta Scripture Memory spiral that is too cute!  Guys, you won't want this one, but girls are gonna love it! 



Isn't that too cute?  I ordered one right away, of course, but then thought of person after person I could order one for.  It made me sad that I couldn't order for everyone, so I thought I'd post it on the blog to let ya know about it.  For all my Bible Study sisters out there, you know if you've gone through very many sessions with Beth Moore at all, you FEEL like you are a part of her group of women down there in Houston, Texas.  So, I guess I'm just sayin' I kinda feel like a siesta too.  When I start my new verses for the New Year, I'll be putting them in my cool little Siesta spiral.  Josh can stick with the Walmart version.

So, if you love a good Bible Study, or if God is stirring your heart to make a new commitment to memorize scripture in 2011, let me encourage you to check out Beth's blog post!My Fun Little Siesta Surprise!

We love you, and pray you have a blessed weekend!

~Josh and Jill

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proof that it Works

Over the weekend, I did a little coupon shopping since I fell a little behind during November.  I thought I had a pretty good trip, so thought I'd share.

Everything you see in the picture below cost me $89.
Amount of money I saved?  $79.
Basically, this is $170 worth of groceries/household items for $90.


11 boxes of 24 to 25 oz cereal
4 bottles of Pantene shampoo/conditioner (one went missing)
3 tubes of Crest toothpaste
2 Tide stain release
1 bottle Wisk laundry detergent
2 cover girl foundation
2 packages Eddy smoked sausage
Enough Top sirloin steak to feed about 7 people (we'll be having company!)
Chuck roast

That list is what was on sale or things I used coupons with.... or both!  Everything else I just added on because we needed or wanted it.  I only went to two stores, CVS and Kroger.  At CVS, handing the cashier my coupons was like handing her $15 in cash.  I had that much in coupons!  Plus, I have $10 to spend toward my next purchase in the store!  Oh, and I mentioned I fell behind in November.  Well, that was okay, because we had so much stocked up from other shopping trips that we never had to go out because there was nothing to eat at home.  We lived off of our supply...  for a whole month!

Thanks for letting me brag about my shopping trip! And if my frugal friend, Elizabeth, happens to read this, thanks for doing what you do!  That couponing class changed everything about my shopping habits, and I am so thankful for it!   Often times, people really question if couponing is worth it.  To me, this is proof that it is! 

Have a great Wednesday!

~Josh and Jill

Monday, December 13, 2010

Incase You Want to Read It




Just thought I'd post this pic of the book, Soul Revolution I mentioned in the last blog incase you're interested in picking up a copy!



Apply It to Me Monday

Today starts another week in this wonderful season of Christmas!  We love seeing all the lights and decorations.  Having little ones makes those things we may normally overlook especially delightful.  Over the weekend, sweet little Kylee and Aubrey got ahead of themselves and decided to have a little Christmas of their own.  I had wrapped a couple of presents to put under the tree, and while I was in another room clipping coupons, I heard paper tearing.  Afraid they were tearing up a book, I rushed into the living room to find Kylee had completely unwrapped one and was working on a second.  Thankfully, it was the least of any of the gifts we had bought them.  In shock, mixed with a little anger, I sent them both to their room.  When I cooled off, I went to talk to Kylee first, since she had informed me she had to show Aubrey how to open a present.  When I bent down and began talking to her, her beautiful eyes filled with tears, and she said, "Mama, it wasn't a Jessie or a Bullseye."  This kid has been desparately wanting Jessie, Bullseye, and Woody from Toy Story for Christmas.  I had no idea that at 3 she would really be disappointed over her Christmas gifts. This is the first year for us that it has mattered what we give the girls.  At that point, we had Jessie and Woody already waiting to be wrapped. Bullseye was going to have to wait since they are sold out in stores everywhere.  After seeing those crocodile tears, we got on ebay that very night and ordered that child a Bullseye.  We are so thankful that God has faithfully provided for us, and that we are able to bless our children at Christmas.  Our prayer is that He will do the same for you as you trust and obey His will and direction for your life.

God desires for us to give to those around us.  Not just material or monetary gifts, but spiritaully as well.  In the same way that we must receive money in some manner to buy gifts for our children, we've got to receive spiritually from our Heavenly Father to give spiritual gifts to those around us.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 puts it this way:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

This Monday morning, my desire is to find comfort in God presence.  I want to be ready to give to those who are needy in a spiritual sense.  However, I know that if I don't spend time with my Father in Heaven, I will not receive what He is ready to give me today, and then I will have nothing to give to others from the overflow of His comfort.

What about you?  Could you find more creative ways to find the comfort that only God can give?  Has this day already jumped off to an incredibly busy start for you, and you feel you can't get that time back until tomorrow morning?  Start right in this moment by simply talking to God and asking Him to be a part of all you do today.  Find moments throughout the day just to thank Him, and to be sensitive and aware of His presence.  I love the times when I can be alone in God's presence for hours on end, but as a mother of a 2 and 3 year old, those times are just not as frequent as they used to be.  This is what I've learned.  I can stay in tune with God in the small moments I find throughout the day and I find His comfort and joy.  I'm not minimizing a morning devotional time with God.  I believe as Christians that is our most important discipline.  I have just learned I don't have to walk in condemnation when I miss it because I have a little one who is usually up when I am and wants undivided attention.  I can still find comfort in my God when I am still before Him in those small moments.

Josh is teaching a class on the book by John Burke called Soul Revolution.  I am so excited about reading the book, sitting in the class, and taking the experiment.  I won't overload you with too many details, so I'll just give you the basic idea.  It's called the 60-60 experiment.  For 60 days, you commit to spend 60 seconds with God every 60 minutes.  Each hour, on the hour, I plan to spend exactly one minute with God today.  You know what's going to happen?  He's going to be the center of my day, and He will pour His comfort into me.  From the overflow, I can comfort others. 

Be comforted this wintry Monday!  We love you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Being Prepared

Over the course of a week, God has really spoken to my heart through His Word and stirred such a sense of urgency in me regarding the study of His Word in the time we are living.  Last Wednesday I shared with the youth group what God had placed on my heart and I asked them this question:  "If persecution comes to America, what do you have to stand on?"  Daniel 7:25 tells us, "He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and the laws.”  This is a prophetic statement of the wearing down of Christians in the last days.  The word "oppress" literally means to wear out as one wears out a piece of clothing.  I have worn out a piece or two of clothing in my lifetime!  Although it may still be a pair of jeans, or a shirt, it becomes useless for us in the purpose we intended for it.  As Christians, we become so exhausted from our jobs, family issues, and other stresses that we find ourselves spending very little time in the study of God's Word.  Without the life of His Word being poured into us, we are so tired that we simply do not oppose the efforts of the enemy.  We are no longer a threat to the powers of darkness, and, although we are still Christian, we become virtually useless for the Kingdom of God.  When times of persecution come, we are too weak to stand firm.

Last night we began our first week of our new women's Bible Study, "Faithful, Abundant, True" from the Deeper Still events with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore.  Each session, we watch a DVD with a different teacher.  Last night was Kay Arthur.  I had not had time to preview any of the material or even look ahead at any of the homework.  Kay Arthur preached my sermon... just a LOT better!  She posed the same question.  This is what she asked us, "If persecution should come to America, are you prepared?"  Then she preached from the book of Hebrews encouraging us to be faithful to the study of God's Word.  She called it our "duty" to understand it.  No matter how many kids we are taking care of with little to no breaks... it's still our duty.  Then she posed a couple more questions.  She asked, "If God has given us 66 books, then how many books do you think He wants us to know?"  (I'll help you out... answer is 66.)  Then she asked a hard question, "How many of them do you know?"  How many of them do you know?  I don't know about you, but I've got some studying up to do.

After Bible Study each week, we have a Monday evening service that is an extension of our church.  Our senior adult pastor, Pastor Tom preached in that service.  His message?  Daniel 1.  He spoke of how we've become adapted to our culture in such a way that we have allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated with wordly views.  We are so numb to our culture that we don't even realize the areas we are deceived.  Sadly, so many times Satan wins with us.  We are so tired and so numb, we don't turn to God's Word.  Rather, we allow the world to indoctrinate us, and we are no longer able to discern the plots of the enemy in our lives.

I know these are not easy things to hear, but we are wise to pay attention.  God has spoken in our church the same message in 3 different settings, 3 different personalities, 3 different perspectives.  Something I have learned in Bible Study is that there are phrases or passages in which something will be repeated.  It's not repeated to make it rhyme or flow, but God always has a distinct purpose in that when He allows a word to repeat.  He is giving emphasis.  He wants us to pay attention, to take notice.  It's my prayer as you read this blog that you will really examine your life, your heart, and your hunger level for God's Word.  We hear stories around the world of persecuted Christians, and we somehow think that because this is America we will escape such things.  God warns us of the oppression to come in the last days.  Right now, we live in a culture where God's Word is readily available.  Not just His Word, but He's given us teachers like Kay, Priscilla, and Beth, and many others.  With all my heart, I believe He is wanting us to be prepared!  We are wise to pay close attention.  When I meet my Maker face to face, the success I had on my job will not matter.  The house I lived in or how clean I kept it won't matter.  The status I attained won't matter.  What will matter?  The amount of His living Word He sees in me.  Let's get Kingdom focused! 

"Heavenly Father, forgive us of neglecting your precious Word.  Stir a hunger in us like we've never had before.  Give us the strength and tenacity to do what we've got to do to be prepared if times of persecution should come.  Give us the strength and tenacity to do what we've got to do to fight today's battles, or to be sensitive to someone else's battle that they need someone to fight for them!  Do not let us become desensitized to your Spirit, or to the powers that work against you.  Help us to wise up to your Word.  I love yoiu so much.  Thank you for your Word!  May it be living and active in me!  In Jesus' Precious Name, Amen."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Apply it to Me Monday

We are really enjoying getting to watch our girls enjoy the Christmas season!  Every Christmas tree they see is absolutely awe inspiring for them.  Saturday night we loaded up in Daddy's Jeep and drove through our neighborhood to see the lights that are up on houses so far.  The girls just squealed over even the least of the decorations.  What a joy to experience Christmas through the eyes of a 2 and 3 year old!
We find ourselves getting not so subtle reminders that our girls are growing up.  After we looked at Christmas lights Saturday night, I gave the girls a bath and washed their hair.  With her hair beautiful and shiny, Kylee wanted a picture in front of the tree. While getting ready to take the picture, I looked at her sweet face and saw resemblances of how she looked as a tiny baby.   I guess remembering that sweet little baby face is what made this picture so astonishing to me.

She is absolutely beautiful and is looking so grown for a 3 year old!

Doesn't that just melt your heart?  It nearly brings me to tears... but I love it!

Well, it's time for "Appy It to Me Monday!"  We really hope this becomes a source of great encouragement to you each week!  Here is today's verse:

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:25

The Bible warns us as Christians that as end times approach we will become discouraged and tired.  The enemy wants us warn out and tired to the place that we have no energy or focus to oppose his efforts.  The writer of Hebrews gives us the solution for remaining strong in the midst of temptation to give into discouragement.  The solution?  To meet together and encourage one another with God's Word. 

When we are faithful to God's house and God's people we are going to build relationships that can't happen through watching a ministry program at home or reading a devotional.  In hard times, those relationships are the ones that will pour strength into our hearts and help us perservere until God sets all things right in His time.

We are so thankful for our church family.  Our prayer for you today is that you find the source of encouragement and strength you need through Godly friendships and the pastoral leadership of a local church if you have not already! 

Be blessed this week!

~Josh and Jill
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