Daily Walking with God

February 2016
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Walking in the Word

Plant City's First Baptist Church

girls night with Barry M

Pam, Susan S., Dede, me, Jeanne, and Susan B. Love you girls!

Come rain or shine (and it was raining) my girlfriends and I finally reached our destination. “Looks Like We Made It”.

No, we didn’t spend a “Weekend in New England”. We enjoyed a girl’s night out to dinner and a concert.

“Even Now” as I think about our evening, I can’t help but smile. We shared laughs, told stories of our families, and sang the night away.

Friendships are important. They are needed. Friends are there to cry, laugh, tell secrets, chat about life, and even sometimes just “be” with without saying a word. I appreciate my friends, and boy do I have some good ones.

Not to play favorites, but there is one who is my very best. He doesn’t “Write the Songs” that make the whole world sing, but He sure writes a book and Psalms that can change a whole world.

My BFF brings me up like no other when I’m down. I’m not sure how others go through life with this Best Friend, but for me, I often let Him know that I “Can’t Smile Without You”.

Okay, look. When you read the following words about my BFF you may ask yourself, “Could it be Magic”?

The Lord’s word is true, and he is faithful in everything he does. He loves goodness and justice. The Lord’s faithful love fills the earth. The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made. The breath from his mouth created everything in the heavens. He gathered together the water of the sea. He put the ocean in its place. Psalm 33:4-7

No, it’s not magic. It’s just the way He is.

Others will say, “It’s a Miracle”. Well, He sure did perform many of those. He’s the Man!

Do you know my BFF?

He is a True Friend.  He is always faithful, good, and just.  My Friend is powerful and pretty amazing in all He does.

Maybe you were close to Him in the past, strayed away, but now you are “Ready to Take a Chance Again”. I sure hope so.

I’ll share my favorite BFF with you. I call Him Jesus.

Thanks, Jeanne, Susan S., Pam, Susan B., and Dede for the friendship, tons of laughs, and a night to remember with Barry Manilow. (How did I do with my play on song titles?) Love you, girls. And thank you for already having Jesus as your BFF as well.

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”John 15:12-15

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

strength and peace“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 NIV

I have a feeling that someone is needing to be reminded of this today.

Allow me to share it with you again:

“God makes His people strong. God gives His people peace.” Psalm 29:11 MSG

Do you believe it?

And again:

“May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 ERV

Believe. Pray it. Claim it.

For you old school type:

“The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 KJV

Take comfort in this verse.

For the “wordy” type:

“The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 AMP

Sometimes we just have to hear something over and over again to truly grasp the concept of what is being said. Like I tell my students at school, “The more you see it, say it, write it, and practice it, the better you’ll get.” Okay, I may have gone a bit overboard with the repetition, but guess what? You’ll probably remember these words throughout the day. And guess again? You needed it. Am I right?

I pray that you will truly believe and take complete comfort in knowing that God has, does, and always will take care of His people.

Are you “His people”? All you have to do is accept Christ into your heart. For more info as to how to become one of “His people” click here. For a more detailed description as to who are “His people”, please visit http://www.gotquestions.org/people-of-God.html.

A brief real-time testimony: When I read these words this morning my mind took me to when my mother-in-law unexpectedly passed away back in 2013. God gave me (us) complete strength and peace throughout those days, and He still does today. Well, this morning, before I was about to publish this journal entry, I saw where a friend’s father passed away this morning. I shared this verse with her. God knew someone needed Psalm 29:11 today. I hope you will share His word with others as well.

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from inside you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear. It is worth very much to God.”  1 Peter 3:3-4

So yesterday this happened….

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Holly had a photoshoot for her senior pictures. My precious high-school friend, Stephanie Humphrey, captured what is now dubbed as “Holly being Holly”.

Holly has always walked to the beat of her own drum. She is not one to conform to the happenings of her surroundings, unless it specifically fits her personality. With Holly, she is what she is, and you get what you get. I just praise God that she is gracious, pure, strong, and loves the Lord.

As Autumn was adorning her with natural make-up, Kellie styling her carefree/beachy hair, and we were fashioning Holly with her outfits…Holly remained Holly.

God graced us with stunning weather, natural lighting, beautiful scenery, and a breath-taking sky at sunset.

All the right dots were being connected for a beautiful photoshoot.

But…when Stephanie allowed us to look through her captured and untouched moments, my heart melted.

It wasn’t the hair, makeup, and clothes that got me (well, maybe a little). No, it was the essence of it ALL. The positioning of the sunrays shining on her and the movement of the grass in the hayfield; the look of who she is inside beamed.

Just like 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from inside you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear. It is worth very much to God.” A gentle and quiet spirit was captured through the lens of Stephanie’s camera.

Okay, moms, I held it together. No tears throughout the shoot. But…when we were driving back to the studio, and I was in my own truck with a load of chairs and seven surfboards, yes…my eyes teared up as I was thinking about how those pictures came out exactly as I had envisioned for my free-spirited and only girl. Then, before we departed ways, Stephanie (the amazing photographer), Ellie (Holly’s BFF, one that I will gladly call one-of-mine, and assistant for the day), Holly (the model of grace for the day), and I had a group hug and I began to pray out loud. When I was thanking God for the talent He had given to Stephanie and for the day, yep…tears came down. Tears of gratefulness and knowing that the next big step for Holly is about to come in her life, and the thought of her heading off to college this summer…whew…tears now too.

Advice to girls…stay true to who and Whose you are. Allow God’s light and love to shine in and through you!

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

THANK YOU…Dede, Shelby, and Ellie for the use of your boards; Autumn Parrish for the makeup; Kellie Morrow for the hair; Ellie for being there (too much to list); Stephanie Humphrey for capturing Holly being Holly, and God for the stunning weather. I LOVE YOU, Holly Anne.

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Just sayin’…

heart hidden in God

Thanks, Max Lucado for so true of words.

Boys, if you want my daughter…LOVE GOD FIRST AND LOTS!

Holly, I pray that you are so bathed in God that He is what a guy sees.

I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

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Marley and Cole on the golf cart.  Marley being camera shy. Marley saying with her eyes, "Are you going to eat that?"

Marley and Cole on the golf cart.
Marley being camera shy.
Marley saying with her eyes, “Are you going to eat that?”

Marley, oh Marley…you were lost and now your found.

The Prodigal Dog.

So many people have been asking me about our dog, Marley. First of all, your kindness and concern is so precious and appreciated. Thank you.

I must say, Marley is a character. When she arrived home that first night, her under-nourished body walked through our kitchen door and hopped onto her normal section of our couch as if nothing had happened. She was thin and exhausted. Her paws were raw from having a 17 day adventure out in the world.

She rested often, ate every chance she got, and carefully strolled on her tattered paws.

Marley’s paws have healed and she has caught up on her rest, but one thing for sure is that she eats like it’s her last meal all the time!

Our once timid and rescued dog is now a dog with an attitude. Marley barks more as she seems to be protecting us with every knock and opening of the door. I can just imagine her having to act and sound like a “tough dog” while she was out on the streets surviving on her own.

Speaking of the door opening; she loves to go! She wants to hop in the vehicle and take trips, especially when she knows she’s going out to our country home. Being on her own gave her a confidence and a sense of adventure. When Marley’s paws hit the land, she runs free (within her perimeters) and plays enthusiastically with Layla (our acquired Bullmastiff).

What really intrigues me with Marley is her appetite. We feed her on a regular basis, but she acts like that’s not enough. Any time anyone walks into the kitchen, she follows them in there. Any time we are cooking or eating a meal, she is right beside us, looking intently at each movement of the hand to see if she is the next recipient of a prepared meal. We used to be able to leave a garbage bag out that wasn’t completely full yet, and continue filling it while cooking. Now…Marley thinks that is her oversized dog bowl. Ugh! We have to carefully watch and reprimand her when that happens. Yes, Marley is still in survival mode and has become quite the beggar for food. She needs to wear a sign that says, “Will wag tail zealously for food.”

Her appetite is what got me to thinking…

Marley’s story reminds me of the Prodigal son. Marley’s life was a good life, but after leaving home and being terribly lost in the world, she returned home. Home and changed.

When this occurs in our lives, we hunger and thirst for more of Jesus.

My hope for you is that you don’t wait until you have been found after straying away from God, or only when you are a new Christian to have a desire for more of Christ. Hunger for Him now and always.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:6 MSG

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

“The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:33-35 NLT

“God—you’re my God!  I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.” Psalm 63:1

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

patiently waiting

This is the view from my country home front porch….”patiently waiting” to get out there.

 

“I beg you to live the way God’s people should live, because He chose you to be His. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love.” Ephesians 4:1-2

Okay, I can think of several situations that God reminds me to be patient with each day. Just at this present stage, He prompts me to be patient with students at school, my own children, traffic, the forever process to even begin with our home renovations (!!!!), myself, certain family members, and the list could go on and on.

We often want to ask “Whyyyyyyyy, Lord?” Then I think about all the times God has been and still is patient with me. Boy oh boy, He probably would like to shake His head, raise His hands, and scream “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, Stephanie?” But…oh yea, He’s God. He exemplifies patience and love. The thing is (I think) He has the inside scoop. Our Heavenly Father sees the big picture and sees how we grow from these “trying” times, and that when we stick with Him things will turn out for His glory in the end. We, on the other hand, see the here and now and wonder why we can’t have our demands or compliances now. Right now!

Breathe. Just breathe. There are lessons to be learned through each process. God’s got this.

Yes, I have to continue reminding myself of those three little words right now while we are STILL waiting for even the county permit process to be completed so we can begin renovations on our country home. Even my builder said, “I didn’t pray for patience, so I know this is not a test.” I replied, “Me either!” All I do know is that in the end, to God be given ALL the glory.

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9

Friend, God sees the big picture. He keeps The Main Thing the main thing, and so should we. These situations in life will pass. We may think that our “hurry-up-and-get-to”s are of the utmost importance, but what we all need to really have a sense of urgency about is sharing Jesus’ life and love with others.

So, right now, delight in the fact that if you are a Christian, YOU ARE HIS! All these “impatient situations” are building your character and will come to a conclusion. Tough? You bet! Worth it in the end? If you stick with God, absolutely!

“Yahweh, the Lord, is a kind and merciful God. He is slow to become angry. He is full of great love. He can be trusted.” Exodus 34:6

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 8:2

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

 

Like water to a fish.

Like shoes to a girl.

Like a fishing rod for my boys.

Like breath…

Gotta have it.

Need it.

Wouldn’t want to live without it.

What is it?

Put all your faith in Him.

Put all your faith in Him.

 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrew 11:1

“You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Matthew 21:22

“Without faith no one can please God. Whoever comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who sincerely try to find him.” Hebrews 11:6

“So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Romans 10:17

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

 

L3People sometimes get the misconception that if you love God and are a Christian, you must be “odd” for God. Think back on how lots of Hollywood movies portray Christians…overly stated and just plain or unrelateable and weird.

Did you know that you can share your testimony without even saying a word? Did you know that you can speak volumes about your love for Christ just by the way you live?

God desires us to be simply and honestly ourselves.

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:23-24 MSG

We need to make sure that we aren’t only this way when we are in a “worship service”, but when we worship Him…which should be ALL THE TIME.

Recently a friend was sharing about her daughter who is away at college and her experience so far. This Christian young lady (we’ll call her Dianne) attends a college full of “creative” people. They all desire to earn a degree in arts or design. Not only are they creative in their minds, but in the way they live their lives.

Dianne has only completed one semester, but she is making a difference for God in simply being herself and living the way that pleases her Heavenly Father.

People have a tendency to gravitate towards her because of her sincere and tenacious personality. They often notice a difference about her, but can’t put their finger on it. When they recognize the fact that her speech is pure and her actions are honorable, they begin to question her. When they question her, she gives an honest answer about how she has and loves Jesus.

Dianne is far away from her Christian home, but keeps God ever so present with her. She attends a church near her college by herself. I have a feeling that that could change soon. Dianne may have a few curious friends find themselves sitting in the church pew right beside her.

We can learn a lot from this young lady, whom, BTW, is making her mom and dad quite proud. Not only are her earthly parents proud, but her Heavenly Father is grinning ear-to-ear as well. Remember…“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God.” Be true to yourself, God, and live your life with much adoration for Him.

If you’re not pleased with the way you are living your life…then change it! Don’t allow others to hold you back or bring you down. Seek God. Repent. Change your heart and life for Christ. Invite Him into your heart and desire to live the life He desires for you to have and live. God desires for you to have life and have it abundantly. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

LIVE LIFE LAVISHLY!

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I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

've 've

I love this photo of Tim and Holly (daddy/daughter) from a trip to Oregon.

Why do you walk? Is it for exercise, stress relief, enjoyment, burn off steam, or for peace? Walking is great for us, but allow me to share some illustrations as to HOW to walk.

How do you walk?

Walk in love. “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2

Walk in the Spirit. “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16-17

Walk in truth. “…walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul…” 1Kings 2:4b

Walk in God’s ways. “Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!” Psalm 81:13

Walk through difficult situations with God. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Walk with a friend. He asked them, “What’s this I hear you discussing with each other as you walk?” Luke 24:17

Walk in confidence. “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk. Acts 14:10

Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked.Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” Psalm 1:1

Walk through those dark times. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley,I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

I can clearly recall and sing the old hymn “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”. Read these words and find comfort in knowing that Jesus is with you in and through any situation, and for those who have asked Christ into their hearts, we have the assurance of walking with Jesus in heaven when this life on earth is over. Glory!

Just a closer walk with Thee

I am weak but Thou art strong.   Jesus keep me from all wrong.   I’ll be satisfied as long; as I walk, let me walk close to Thee.  Just a closer walk with Thee;  Grant it Jesus, is my plea.  Daily walking close to Thee; Let it be dear Lord, let it be.  When my feeble life is over;  Time for me will be no more.  Guide me gently, safely over; To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.   Just a closer walk with Thee; Grant it Jesus, is my plea.  Daily walking close to Thee;  Let it be dear Lord, let it be.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/patsycline/justacloserwalkwiththee.html

Let’s ask this question again, “How do you walk?” One step and day at a time! As long as you are walking with and in Christ, you are going to be just fine and dandy. Have a beautiful day.

I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

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kingdomsHumble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10

I thought that today’s verse fit well with a powerful phrase that my pastor mentioned in his sermon recently. He said, “Your kingdom must go before God’s kingdom can come.”

My thoughts are going in so many directions right now, so I will just leave you with a couple of thoughts and some words of wisdom for God’s word to marinate on and in today:

  • I don’t know about you, but I would must rather have security and peace in knowing that I built my home on solid ground instead of sinking sand. God is solid!
  • Allow God to build you upon His firm foundation, and not on yourself.
  • Be humble.
  • Surrender yourself to God…completely.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1, 6-7

“The mountains may disappear, and the hills may become dust, but my faithful love will never leave you.  I will make peace with you, and it will never end.” The Lord who loves you said this. Isaiah 54:10

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21

I pray that you will enjoy soaking up The Son every moment of each day. –Stephanie

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