Shaped By Love by Jill Eileen Smith

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Celebrating Women’s History Month
SHAPED BY LOVE

Guest Post By Jill Eileen Smith

Looking back. I do a lot of that for some reason. Perhaps it is the history lover in me.
Or maybe I’m just old enough to think some of the past was so much fun that I wish I
could live it over again.Like watching the kids in the big sandbox—the one that used to sit beneath those trees—see it? They’re building a huge city, each child has his own corner and then…what are they doing with that hose? Thankfully that flooded city didn’t take
the sand away with it. The sand remains for another day.

Can you hear the laughter in the basement as children walk through that maze
they’ve built? Or the whooshing sounds of Star Wars light sabers in a game meant to
amaze?

They’re all gone now, of course. As are the children who once played there.
Oh, hello…I should have realized someone might be listening to me reminisce. It’s not a habit I indulge often, but every now and then, I’ll walk past the living room and see the son who used to sit there strumming his guitar. Or the son programming video games on his computer.

Sometimes I can almost hear them video taping that talk show with friends or shouting “scores!” over a hockey game.
I probably sound like an old woman, sitting in her rocking chair, woven blanket over her knees, staring into the light coming through the window. But I’m really just a working writer who is trying to give you a glimpse into the things that have shaped me. What caused me to pursue this career? Who am I behind the stories I write?
Who inspired me to be me?

 

Dusk is settling over the colorful leaves outside as I write this. If I slip back a little
farther than those memories of children playing, you would find me in my
grandmother’s kitchen helping her scald fresh peaches to make a pie. She had to
start early before the summer day grew too warm and the kitchen too hot from
baking. Grandma loved her sweets, and she taught me to make the best piecrust
ever! She also taught me to love story.

That’s what I love about history. It’s about people’s stories. The Bible, the main book
from which I write, gives us little snapshots of history told through the eyes of real
people. They’re gone now, like my grandma, but their stories live on.

Grandma told me stories through pictures, while my mom showed me the love of
words through her love of books. Then one day I got my very own diary – a young
introvert’s book of secrets, with lock and key to keep everyone out.
Ahh…time sure changes things, doesn’t it? And by now you may wonder why I
would title this post as I did. What do memories of children playing or grandma’s pie
making and storytelling, or my mom’s reading hobbies have to do with me being
shaped by love?

I’ll get to that. I promise.
These things make up a small facet of who God made me to be.

 

I can’t look back and tell you that I had an idyllic childhood. If I was really sitting in a rocking chair with a woven blanket over my knees, I might take time to carve out my past for my grandchildren in one of the many journals I’ve come to write over the years.

I might tell them how I was the unexpected “oops” baby, whose parents, though probably shocked to have another girl almost nine years after they were “done”, loved the fact that I was born. It took me some time to realize how much, but I think God put me with just the right parents to help make me into who I am today.

I’d also tell my grandchildren how I met their grandpa and all about the wonderful man that he is. If they asked, I might even tell tales on their dads, just for fun. Their dads sure knew how to make us laugh. We had a lot of love in our house, and I’d definitely want our grands to know that. I wouldn’t show them the same way my grandma showed me though. I doubt I’ll teach them how to make pie, but I’ve already started telling stories. How can I help but pass on what was given to me?

Which brings me back to how these snippet memories shaped my life. It’s so easy these days to feel too many negative feelings about the people God has placed in our paths. And if I wanted to, I could drag up the same frustrations we all face. We’re just people, after all. People are flawed, no matter how we look at it.

And my history is flawed too—just like yours. But you know what? I still know that I’m loved. The most important Person in the universe wants me. You see, when I was eight years old, my sister introduced me to Jesus, and I’ve been getting to know Him better each day ever since.

I learned to love His Word in my teens, write about the people in His Story in my twenties, and waited until my kids were out of high school to turn from that introvert secret diary kid into a career writer who shares what she’s learning through the people in history she has studied.

Love, forgiveness, reconciliation (yes, we all face these things), are themes of my life, shaped by the family that raised me, the grandma that “watched” me when my mom worked, the husband that still loves me after almost 44 years, the sons who grew to be hard-working men, and those grand girls who still capture my heart. Love runs through my life like blood that pulses through our veins.

The greatest shaping love has been at the hands of Jesus. His Father, by the Bible’s own admission, wants me to be like His Son. To listen to Him. To believe in Him. To give like Him. To forgive like Him. To love like Him.

Sometimes being shaped by love has been hard. Whether it is learning from a parent, other family member, or friend, often the things that shape us, even the most difficult things end up being the most loving. That’s how God works in our lives too. He molds us, shapes us, into His character. Every single one of us might be made in His likeness, but we are not all molded into His character. We are His image bearers, yet not everyone would be recognized as such. It takes a lifetime to allow God to mold us and make us into what He wants us to be. To shape us by love and in love because He is love.

The cat has hopped onto my lap now and the sun is soon going to set. The houses around me will be cast in shadow and the lights behind the closed curtains will dispel darkness.

And tomorrow I will have one more day of my own history behind me. I may reflect back for a moment, as I do now and then. I may think about the things the women of Scripture have taught me in this love of learning and learning by love. How many of them did God shape by love to make them more like Him? I daresay He tried with all of them. But not all of them accepted that love from Him.

It’s getting late now, so I won’t bore you with more examples of German meals or drums blaring in the basement or hands held in prayer with those you love until tears run down your cheeks. Those are part of my history too. But maybe we can visit those another day.

I wish you love, my friend. I wish you God’s love most of all. Human love will fail you one day—it is too flawed to keep a perfect love. But God will shape you as He is shaping me by His everlasting, unfailing love until we are shining inside and out with His glory and joy. And we will know we are wanted. We always have been. We might be an “oops” baby as I was, in human terms, but we were planned by a great Creator in His.

May His love give you sunshine and joy, and a peace that passes any possible understanding.

~Selah

Here’s a look at Jill’s latest release::::: MIRIAM’S SONG

In her eventful lifetime, Miriam was many things to many people: protective older sister, song leader, prophetess, leper. But between the highs and the lows, she was a girl who dreamed of freedom, a woman who longed for love, a leader who made mistakes, and a friend who valued connection.

With her impeccable research and keen eye for detail, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith offers this epic story to fill in the gaps and imagine how Miriam navigated the challenges of holding onto hope, building a family in the midst of incredible hardship, and serving as a leader of a difficult people, all the while living in her brother’s shadow.

Follow Miriam’s dusty journey from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises he provides—in his own perfect timing.