praying for those i don't know“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”  1Timothy 2:1

I’m a huge believer in prayer.  Lately it seems that God has been tailoring my prayers for those whom I don’t even know, but I just briefly come in contact with.

On a recent plane ride, I had noticed that the young lady sitting beside me was studying for the New York Bar Exam. She was reading profusely, underlining specific words and phrases, and jotting down notes or answers in the margin of her bulky study book. I didn’t want to interrupt her studying, so I would just occasionally say a little prayer for my flight partner with no name.

A few minutes before the plane landed, I finally spoke with her and said, “I see that you are studying for the bar exam.  When do you take it?”  Our conversation was brief, but she did confirm that she will be taking the exam on Tuesday (today).  Through our verbal exchange I discovered where she was from, that she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, attend law school at Vanderbilt University, she was never in a sorority, and that she will be practicing international law in Washington D.C..  I told her that I had been praying for her.  She smiled and was grateful.  We parted ways, and after learning all that information about her, I still never found out her name.

In 1 Timothy 2:1 we are instructed to pray for others. I’m not sure if my bar exam-studying-plane-acquaintance is a praying woman or not, but she has had this woman praying for her for the past three days.

And then, in another “stranger” incident, my daughter and I were standing outside our hotel waiting for our car.  This random lady came up to us and proceeded to inform us that she just found out that her husband is cheating on her.  We could tell, by her words and the glass in her hand, that she had had a few alcoholic beverages.  This lady was so distraught.  I asked her a concerning question, and then she realized and said, “I’m sorry.  I just gave you TMI (too much information)”, and she walked away.

You could just imagine the expressions on mine and Holly’s faces.  My heart went out to her.  I wanted to hold her, chat a little more, and pray with her.  This troubled lady walked away and our car arrived, so our brief encounter was just that…brief.

Tim had told me that he had overheard a conversation between this lady and someone else earlier and he discovered the same thing about her recent betrayal.

I have been praying for this victim of adultery for three days now.  If God so desires, I sure hopes He puts us in front of each other again.  But, maybe, just maybe, that short-lived encounter is all God wants me to have with her.  Maybe He wants me to pray for her and her husband without knowing anything more.

In a portion of Romans 8:26-27  we read, “We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself speaks to God for us. He begs God for us, speaking to him with feelings too deep for words.  In these verses it is zoning in on when we are too weak to pray, but God has laid on my heart that it is also for when we just may know little about a situation, but we pray for what we know, and He’ll take care of the rest of the specifics.

Luke 18:1 says, “Jesus taught the followers that they should always pray and never lose hope.  Always pray.  Never lose hope.  Sounds like Jesus, The Teacher, My Savior, wants us to pray and hold on to the hope He has for us.

I just said a prayer for you as well.  I pray that your eyes, ears, and heart will be sensitive to those around you who need you to pray for them.  I pray that you will be a blessing to others, but in turn discover that you are also the one being blessed by God.  I pray that you will always hold on to the hope in Christ that is given to you. And as always, I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

DSCN0003This morning when I went outside I could sense that it was going to be a beautiful morning.  When I heard the birds singing, as the sun was rising in the sky, I started singing the song from the musical “Oklahoma”:

Oh what a beautiful morning

Oh what a beautiful day

I’ve got a beautiful feeling

Everything’s going my way

Yes!  It is going to be a glorious day.  My beautiful niece is going to marry her sweetheart.  What a beautiful display it is when you see a man and a woman who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, become one. I pray that God will shine down on their marriage for a lifetime.  May they radiate God’s love to each other and to those around them.  May their lives be filled with laughter, music, and lots of love as I know it will. Congratulations James and Calli Jo as you become Mr. and Mrs. James Baker today.  Always keep Christ the center of your marriage.  Fall more in love with God each day, and your love will grow closer and stronger as well.  I love you!

  • Genesis 2:22-24, Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

 

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Ephesians 5:22-33, For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

I'd love for you to respond as to who He is to you.

Love, God (Vol 6)

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

Dear Child of Mine,

Let me start off with a joke:

“Knock. Knock”

“Who’s there?”

“God.”

“God who?”

“That’s what I want to know. Who do you think I am?”

First of all, I will tell you who I am NOT. I am not human.  I do not lie.  I am not someone who doesn’t follow through.  I do what I say I will do.  I am not someone who breaks promises.  I fulfill every promise I make.

Now, some may say I’m their strength, protection, persistent help, and I am merciful, gracious, and compassionate.  Others say that I am great, mighty, and awesome.  It has been noted that I am the God of gods and the Lord of lords, and that I am with you wherever you may go. And I must say, all of this is true!

In Exodus 3:14 I said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM.” 

So, back to the joke…who do YOU say that I am?

I love you,

God

“God is NOT human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change his mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfill?”  Numbers 23:19

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you.”  Deuteronomy 4:31

 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”  Deuteronomy 10:17

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:9

 “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Matthew 22:32

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all,

Stephanie

 

According to dictionary.com  perseverance means:   steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.  This word is how I would describe my Saturday.

Saturday morning, my eldest son, Hunter, shared a video on his Facebook page titled “Never Give Up!” .  It was an inspirational story about a paratrooper who was told that he’s never walk unassisted again due to injuries during the Gulf War.  Over weight, knee braces, cane, etc. were his encumbrances in life.  After numerous doctors and instructors giving him little or no hope, there was one person who believed in him.  This veteran, Arthur Boorman, persevered and overcame his obstacles.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  Romans 5:3. 

Then, on a lighter side, yesterday my mom and I went shopping.  (A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.)  I’ve been searching for about a year and a half for some new silverware.  Where do those spoons go?  Anyhow, being the bargain shopper that I am, after over a year of scanning the shelves, I persevered and made a purchased a 65 piece set of new silverware for a great price.  Success!

Finally, my Saturday evening was quiet.  Holly was with friends, Cole was staying away at a friend’s house, Tim was fishing on the east coast, and so it was just me and Hunter at home.  I enthusiastically asked Hunter, “Do you want to watch a movie with me?”  Hmmmm, his reply was, “No.”  Not the mother/son evening I would have wanted, but I get it.  A FIFA X-box game beat me out.  So it was movie time for just one. 

I inspected all the romance/girlie movies that were On Demand.  I came across one that I thought, “Yes, sounds like a movie for me, but the title sounds a bit cheesy.”  I continued searching for a movie, but ended up returning to the movie with the long title and four stars beside it.  What caught my eye were two things:  “Based on a true story” and “Executive Producer:  God”. 

I’ve always admired people’s testimonies that were drastic changes in their life.  This story was about a former drug trafficker/music producer who fell in love with a Christian girl, and the personal struggles he endured in his life before surrendering his life to God. 

The title of the movie was, “I’m in love with a church girl” .  (I told you the title was a bit cheesy.  But it caught my eye didn’t it?)

After watching the movie I was curious to find out more about the real Gally Molina and how true this movie truly was.  I watch an interview  he did with The 700 Club, read an article a reporter wrote about him, and other “stalking” searches.

I told my Sunday school girls about the movie, and even did a movie day with all three of my children after church.  Of course they were thrilled (haha) to watch it, but I’m sure that some of the relationship examples, confidence in God that “the church girl”, Vanessa, displayed, and the perseverance of a man’s search to know God will settle in their hearts and minds.

The second definition of perseverance from dictionary.com is:  Continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.  I believe that Gally found the theological definition of perseverance.  He is a man saved by grace and will spend eternity with Christ.

So when you are feeling discouraged, facing difficulties, or have obstacles to overcome, persevere.

I love the verses that follow verse three in Romans 5. Let’s put it all together and feel the love that God has poured over us through His word:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

Some of the familiar actors in the movie mentioned are:

  • Adrienne Bailon (The Cheetah Girls)
  • Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins (The Fast and The Furious)
  • Toby Mac
  • Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
  • Michael Madsen (Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs)
  • Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects)
  • Vincent Pastore (The Sapranos)

Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust in the Lordwith all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Here I go again, another lesson/thought from a not so ordinary place.  This will now be the fourth journal entry I’ve written while dealing with my Invisalign. But stay with me while I “straighten” things out. (No pun intended. Who am I kidding…of course a pun.)

A conversation I had with my orthodontist comes to mind every time I put in a new set of Invisalign, and I can’t help but giggle to myself.  You see, on the Invisalign are these minute black numbers and letters.  I asked the doc what they were for.  He replied, “The numbers let you know what tray you are on and the letter helps you to remember which is for the upper and lower teeth.”  Seriously?!  He said this with a “straight” face.  Are you now thinking what I was thinking?  I quickly thought to myself, “If you can’t tell the difference between the top and bottom by looking at the trays, you have some serious issues with your teeth!”

It is completely obvious which tray is for the bottom and which is for the top. 

Then, as things usually happen for me, I thought about how we are often not so different with our walk with God. Think about it, it is completely obvious that we need God’s word in our lives to “straighten” us out.  But don’t we sometimes need a little “fine print” to remind us of the obvious?

If I were to wear my trays on the wrong teeth, the way they are not intended to be worn, it just wouldn’t work.  If I try to do things different/apart from what God, things just won’t work out the way God intended for them too.

We read in Proverbs 3:5-7 that we don’t need to try to figure things out on our own, we need God!

In John 15:5 Jesus stated that, “apart from me you can do nothing.  I believe it!  I’ve tried to do, and sometimes stubbornly still do, things my way.  Trust me…God’s way is soooo much better! 

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. ”Ephesians 2:8

 “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.Proverbs 19:21

I’m just stating the obvious.  Stop trying to straighten your life out on your own, let God do that for you.

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

Okay, I’ve noticed a pattern and have had confessions made.

It’s summer time.  Yes!  Teens like to sleep in every chance they get.  I get it!  But, Holly told me the other day, when I thought that she was just rolling out of bed at the crack of noon, that she’s been up since 9ish, she just has been viewing things on her phone and lying in bed. What?  Why not come on downstairs and eat or watch tv, or chat it up with mom?  Oh, I bet I know…she (along with the other two children of mine) are probably afraid that if they wake up and join me downstairs that I’d most likely give them a chore to do.  Aha!  Well, they’re probably correct.

This made me think about how we are with God.  We get all comfy in a certain way of life.  We may get a little scared to wake up from our “secure” lifestyle and actually get up and go do something that our Heavenly Parent wants us to do.

We read in Philippians 2:13,For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.  Brothers and Sisters in Christ don’t be afraid to do your “God chores”.  Remember, it’s not you doing it alone anyhow, it’s God working in and through you.

Wake up and get busy.

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

It wasn't all tears. Laughter and dancing filled the air.

Tim and I were sitting in what we call the “Shuff Backyard Oasis” listening to music and having various conversations.  During one topic I teared up.  My eyes became watery, yet when I looked up at our string of white lights, they seemed to shine in beautiful rays.

That vision reminded me of how God is always shining down on us no matter what the circumstances may be.

Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Let God’s promises shine on your problems.”  That phrase seemed to fit perfectly with what I had seen through my watery eyes. Our discussion wasn’t so much of a problem as a reflection on some life experiences.

We can find comfort in Isaiah 41:10Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.   I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

I pray that you will always remember and feel God’s presence in and through your problems, during the ups and downs in life, and, well, just always.

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

 

Wayne and Becky Shuff

 

This morning I came across a basket of Christmas photo cards.  The years were 2007 and 2012.  Wow!  The changes that had taken place during those time frames.  Hair styles…some have a little more hair and others have quite a few less hairs.  Family size…how exciting to see a family of three became a family of four or five just five years later.  Body size…no, we won’t go there. LOL!

Talk about changes…A few events have taken place this week that have been big milestones in peoples’ lives.  Yesterday, early afternoon, I received a phone call from one of my “other sons” , Landon.  His plane had just landed in Denver, Colorado.  I had tears in my eyes just knowing that he has moved on.  Literally, moved on.

 

I’m so proud of his accomplishments and am so excited to see what God has planned for him as he begins his life and football career at the Air Force Academy.

 

And it’s not just Landon on my mind.  Hassan will be heading to New York to play football for Marist College.  Christian will be moving to Tallahassee next month.  Maddie will be a Gamecock at the University of South Carolina. Hunter has registered for his college classes.  And the list goes on and on.  Where does the time go?  I pray for all you college students this upcoming year.  Be wise, smart, have fun (I’m sure you will), and remember that God is with you and loves you.

Another change that has occurred this week is an addition to our family.  No, I didn’t have a baby (THAT would be a miracle!) or rescued another dog.  What did happen was…after a year of a roller-coaster of emotions for my father-in-law, he got married.  Yep, it’s official.  As of July 14, 2014 at 10:30am, Mr. Shuff is now married.  Now he has a wonderful lady, who loved and admired my mother-in-law, loves the Lord with all her heart, and wants to take care of Wayne.  It is so great to see him happy and has a friend to share the rest of his life with. This will be a big change for us all, but grateful for their love for God, and I have complete confidence that the Lord is the center of their relationship. 

Congratulations Wayne and Becky.

Some things will never change...Landon and Hunter being goofy together.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Yes, things change in life.  There is a time for everything.  Right now is the time to build up, laugh, dance, embrace, mend, and love.

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

 

Marley and Holly. (Looks like a stand off to me. LOL)

Building relationships:

Just a little over six weeks ago we rescued, our now dog, Marley .  At first when we would open our back door she would run to the far corner and stay.  When it was time to come in, we’d have to physically pick her up and bring her in.  It took her a little while to venture off to the other areas of the backyard.  Now, Marley never runs to her secluded secure spot.  She runs out to play, adventures to other areas, and when she is done, she now happily runs back into the house. 

The same thing with when we take Marley for a walk out the front door into the neighborhood.  She has her routine of where to go, but she doesn’t freeze or is so skittish at every sound or has to be picked up and turned in the right direction to come back home.  Nope.  She sniffs, does her routine, runs when you do, and then when she sees our home, she heads to the front door.  Whew!

I wasn’t sure what she was going to do the other day when the front door was accidentally left open.  She ran outside and sprinted across the park.  I told Hunter I just may need his help.  Well, as it all turned out, I was able to casually walk across the park, call for her, and put her leash on without any hesitation.  Double Whew!

Why? Why is Marley becoming more comfortable and not so timid around us?  It’s because we’ve built a relationship with her.

Okay, so some family members may say, “I beg to differ!  Marley’s still not real comfortable around me.”  True.  But the more time you spend with her, the better the relationship will be.

I massage Marley, pet her, give her treats, talk to her, give her attention, …

Just like any relationship  in life…the more time you spend with someone the closer and more comfortable you become with each other.

Psalm 73:28 says, “But as for me, how good it is to be near God!   I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”  Amen!  Being near to God, building a relationship with Him, makes me want to tell others about Him even more.

When I read John 15:1-17, about “He is the vine and we are the branches” parable, I couldn’t help but think about the relationship we have with Christ.  People may come and go in our lives, and life goes on.  But when we are apart from Him, we are nothing.  We ache, fail, and get weak. 

I hope you choose to grow closer to God.  Work on your relationship with Him.  Massage your mind with God’s word, talk to Him through prayer, and give God lots of attention.  You’ll find yourself becoming more comfortable with Him.  He already loves you!

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

 

Our sunset on the final night of vaca in AMI. Ahhhh.

I LOVE the beach!  

The other day I was returning from observing The Most Incredible Artist paint the sky. While walking barefoot the sand, I could hear people laughing, children performing for family and friends, and still see God’s handiwork brush the sky with and ever-changing scene. I couldn’t help but have a peaceful smile on my face.

When I’m at the beach with family and friends, there are always many laughs.  People-watching is always a fun and curious past time.  Well, maybe a little scary and puzzling at times too. (Yikes!  What are some people thinking???)

There have been many insightful conversations, with laughter and with tears, with friends while at the beach.

Ecclesiastes 3:4a comes to my mind now, “There is a time to cryand a time to laugh.” Yep, lots of tears of joy and sorrow have occurred while having my toes in the water and tush in the sand.

As much as I enjoy chatting it up and lying around with friends, I get my most reflection time when I’m alone.  I get the largest part of time with God while sitting on or walking the beach alone. Some pretty perceptive thoughts and ideas occur when I’m doing this. Hey, I’m not alone in this thinking.  We read in Matthew 4:18a, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee that some awesome things happen while walking on the beach.  Jesus called His first disciples when doing this activity.

You may not live near a beach, but hopefully you have a place where you can both gather with friends and be alone and enjoy insightful conversations and have reflective thoughts.  It may be the woods, mountains, neighborhood, the lake, riding on a tractor in a wide open field, or even the busy sidewalks of a metropolis area.  Wherever “that place” may be, I hope you always discover something new about yourself, grow closer to God, and be able to walk away with a smile on your face.

Think about these verse when you have your quiet moments:  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.