cross while walkingI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…God is so cool!  I love how He speaks to me through those unexpected places and /or objects.

I went to take my dog for her morning walk. While Marley was getting her morning walk on, I was getting my morning prayer walk on. While praying I came upon a branch that was the perfect cross.

You see, my heart was heavy with praying for an individual. When I picked the branch up it was as if God nudged me and whispered, “Lay it all down at the cross. I can handle this.”

Do you ever find yourself praying, giving it to God, and wanting to keep holding onto the request that you’ve made to our Heavenly Father? I ashamedly admit that do. I know He is in control and can absolutely handle anything. I know when I give Him a plea I can leave it there with Him. I know…. So God was giving me a little reminder that we/I need to do as Hebrews 11:1 and 6 says and have faith and be sincere:

“Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.”

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

As soon as I picked up that branch shaped like a cross and heard God’s whisper in my ear and heart, I immediately felt peace, relief, and comfort.  Praise Him!

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.Matthew 10:38

I am worthy. You are worthy. Take/pick up your cross and give it all to Him. Follow Jesus. Have faith. He truly does have whatever you are laying at the cross down.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

 

Marley, ready for her ride to play with her new doggie friend, Sadie.

Marley, ready for her ride to play with her new doggie friend, Sadie.

I’ve searched in the bible for the right bible verse to go with today’s thought, but nothing is settling with me. Maybe you can help me find the right verse.

We read about double blessings for Hannah, Joseph, Job and others in the bible. Well, this precious lady that I’m talking about today received just that…a double blessing.

Recently when my family went on vacation a lovely young lady (Leann) took great care of our dog, Marley. Leann is a vet assistant, so I felt confident in her ability to tend to Marley. We had agreed on a price per day for her services. But when I came home and discovered the mail and newspapers collected, home clean and didn’t smell like a dog (BIG plus for me!), Marley had her nails clipped and she was bathed, and above all…Marley was happy and healthy, I doubled her payment. Oh, and Marley got a new friend out of it all too…Sadie.marley with leann's dog

She didn’t realize that the payment was doubled until she had left. Leann sent me a message to make sure that I was aware of the amount. Absolutely! When you do a great job, you’ll get rewarded in the end.

Let Leann be an example for you:

  • Work without complaining. (Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Philippians 2:14)
  • Do your best in whatever you do. (“whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 )

 

  • I can’t speak for her to say that she did this, but… “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23

You know what? One thing that drives me crazy is when someone says, “What do I get for this?” when sometimes you just need to do something because it is the right thing to do. If you receive a monetary reward, that should be just an added blessing, not an expectancy. Many in our society need to get over themselves with their “what’s-in-it-for-me” or “I-deserve-this” attitude. Just do it and do it willingly. You’ll be blessed in the end. Okay, soapbox is over.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

 

don't look backI was awakened in the middle of the night and began pondering on a few people and events in my life that I would consider as some “Ut-ohs” that I’ve experienced. It led me to think, as a mom, how I would love to prevent my children from having many “Ut-oh” moments or becoming an “Ut-oh” for someone else. But..I know…I know…they will make their own mistakes and learn from them, just like I did. It’s just…you know…“Ut-oh”.

Do you have any regrets? Do you live with regrets so much that it saddens you still? Well, let’s see what Paul had to say:

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” Philippians 3:12-14 

Paul was saying this to a group of believers. He was remembering the man he used to be (a bad bad man), and looking ahead to becoming the man that God wants him to be.

“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”  2 Corinthians 7:8-10

Again, Paul was speaking to a group of believers. He was encouraging them in a frank way. Knowing that we sometimes (okay, do) have “Ut-oh” times in our lives (much like he did), Paul encouraged them that coming face-to-face with their “Ut-ohs” and turning from them and turning to Christ brings about a great change and builds character.

Peter was giving some excellent warnings and advice to the young. I believe it’s good for us all:

“Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Try to prevent yourself from having so many “Ut-oh” moments. Stand strong in your faith. Remember that you’re not alone. Also bear in mind that temptation is not a sin, but succumbing to it is. (Click here for a plethora of entries regarding temptation.) That sin would be the “Ut-oh”

And finally, when you run and/or learn from those “Ut-ohs” it affects your outlook:

“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.” Proverbs 15:13

Do you have some “Ut-ohs” you need to turn back on and move forward? Just like a quote on my air-freshener in my car says: “Don’t look back, you aren’t going that way”.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

 

 

Cole, Holly, and Hunter...my LOVES whom I pray for all the time.

Cole, Holly, and Hunter…my LOVES, my BLESSINGS, whom I pray for all the time.

This morning was like any other morning for me. I woke up and began praying.

Praying for my children is at the top of my list. I began to pray for each specifically and pondered on each area of gratefulness and concern in their lives. Before I continued in my morning prayer, I felt that I was led to read the scripture verse for this morning. So I tapped on my biblegateway.com app and read Matthew 19:14. It reads, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people who are like these children.’”

When I read the words “Let the children come to Me” I thought to myself, “Let? Shoot, I want them to RUN to You!”

I know that I’ve always seen the picture of young children being placed on Jesus’ lap when taught this verse in the bible, but right now, at this stage in my life with children who are 13, 17, and 19 years of age, I envision children of any age coming to rest on Jesus’ lap. Maybe it’s because I desire for my children to yearn for such closeness with Christ that that is why I can imagine them running to Him.

Here’s this section (only three verses) in its entirety:

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”  And He placed His hands on their heads and blessed them before He left. Matthew 19:13-15

Notice that the parents brought their children to Jesus. Yes, Tim and I dedicated our children to God when they were born. They have been brought up in church and surrounded by the love of family and of Jesus. This stage (teens and young adults) has had me often being reminded that Tim and I did bring them to Him and have raised our children in the instruction of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6) . Yes, He has our children in the palm of His hand. Yes, we know all the right words to say to ourselves when it comes to reassuring us that God’s got them. But, as I’m sure at any stage and age of one’s children, we desire God’s best for them, it hurts us when we see them struggling and hurting and searching for the path in their lives, and yada yada yada. (Can you feel me? Am I alone in the struggles of raising children and letting go?) As I’ve said many times, and I know, “This too shall pass.”  All we can do is pray.

How about you…do you have children you want to see run to Jesus? Do you need to run to Him yourself? He’s waiting for you. RUN!  He’s got a place on His lap for you.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

bow fishingHere’s a quote for you to chew on… “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you ought to.”

When I read Matthew 4:1-11 about when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, I pondered on how to make this historical story applicable to my life. I said to myself, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you ought to.”

Jesus could have easily turned the rock into bread to satisfy his hungry from fasting for forty days.  But He didn’t, and even backed it up with scripture.

Jesus could have easily jumped from the highest point, and not even needed the angels to grab Him before touching the ground…but He didn’t, and even backed it up with scripture.

Jesus could have bowed down to Satan after Satan promised to give Him all the kingdoms and splendor in the world… but He didn’t, and even backed it up with scripture.

You see, Satan was tempting Jesus in three areas of His life:  physical needs and desires, possessions and power, and pride.  He does us the same way.

You may be (probably) tempted by Satan daily.  You need to remember that BEING TEMPTED IS NOT A SIN.  WHEN YOU GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION AND DISOBEY GOD, THAT IS A SIN.

I love a statement I read in NIV Study Bible, it reads, “A person has not shown true obedience if he or she has never had an opportunity to disobey. We will be tested.  Because we know that testing will come, we should be alert and ready for it.  Remember, your convictions are only strong if they hold up under pressure.”

Jesus could have done and given in to Satan’s temptations, but He didn’t.

Satan desires for you to give in to the temptations he presents to you, and you could give in, but just because he does doesn’t mean you ought to.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Don’t store up treasures here on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream.  My late mother-in-law, Jany, was in it.  In the dream the family was on vacation in the mountains.  (Why not the beach like normal?  I guess because Jany loved the mountains and here Kentucky home.) We were laughing and chatting in the kitchen area, when Jany said “Remember, don’t store up your treasures here, store them in  heaven.”  And then I woke up.  I kept trying to go back to sleep to get back to the dream and talk to her some more.  Nope.  God left me with what I needed to hear at the time.

Then, last week, my father-in-law was giving me a few boxes of family photos and some of Jany’s memorabilia.  One Ziploc bag contained a couple of Jany-staple-wears…her garden gloves and the pink visor that she wore endlessly. It was an emotional scene when Wayne handed me the bag.  It may be a dirty, old, pink visor, but it is a priceless treasured piece of meorabilia for us.

Well, this morning I was searching for a photograph to post for Jany’s birthday.  You see, today, July 9th, would have been Jany’s 65th birthday on earth,  but instead she is celebrating her second birthday in Heaven.  When I came across a photo with her in the pink visor, I just knew I had to choose that one.  Perfect!

As much as I treasure the many memories and keepsakes of my late mother-in-law, I get it.   There are many things that I DON’T get, but I do get that life keeps going and we must keep moving forward.  I get that while she was living on earth, she was sharing God’s love and word with others.  I get that she is staying busy preparing for us for when we get to heaven.  I get that she wants us Christians to continue sharing the gospel with others until The Second Coming.

I also get the wonderful little trip down memory lane that occurred this morning on the day of her birth:

  • Holly and I took a bike ride around the island today on Jany’s specially ordered pink roses covered Schwinn bicycle called Rosie.
  • The adorable cupcake with a pink rose from Hometown Desserts in Anna Mairia Island.
  • Wayne, Tim, and Todd went fishing together this morning.rose cupcake

shuff boys fishingjany's bike matthew 6

All is well with our souls.  Treausered memories.  Remembering Jany today and always.

A very happy birthday to her hilarious twin brother, Johnny.  Happy Birthday, uncle Johnny.

Life is Short

Shoes to Fill

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

 

I am so grateful to my friend, Gwen, for capturing this moment.  This was a couple of days after our "parent/child chat".  Turning to God is a daily thing.  Look to The Ultimate Parent.

I am so grateful to my friend, Gwen, for capturing this moment. This was a couple of days after our “parent/child chat”. Turning to God is a daily thing. Look to The Ultimate Parent.

“I will praise you, Lord.  Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.  Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-2

I love how God equips us for situations through His word, and then when that situation arises, we are ready. (“…these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:10 )

The morning that I read Isaiah 12:1-2 was one of those moments.

Without being transparent at this moment, let’s just say that this is what I learned about parenting via God:

  • Parents do get upset/angry with their children. The Ultimate Parent (God) gets angry with us. We disappoint Him, just like our own children may disappoint us at times…much like we probably did our parents when we were younger.
  • When we listen to God (and to the whole story of our children) He gives us peace. The anger shouldn’t last. When we permit anger to settle, that is when human judgment, bitterness, and unforgiveness can inhabit you.
  • The peace that comes straight from God turns our words and reaction into comfort for ourselves AND our children. This occurs when we allow ourselves to be filled with God’s words.
  • God’s ­­got this! He is our Savior.
  • We need to trust in Jesus to show us how to be a parent.
  • Even though parenting is often frightening, we don’t need to be afraid if we are relying on Christ.
  • When we are weak and don’t know what to say, God strengthens us. He will give us the words to articulate.
  • No matter what circumstances will occur, God must be praised.
  • And remember…this too shall pass. God always wins.

The morning that Tim and I sat our son down for a parent/child chat, God did turn our frustration into seeing our son’s aggravation.  God turned the words “we” were ready to say to words of compassion and comfort for our son.  God allowed us to see the big picture and share words of wisdom and scripture with our offspring.

Parents, I hope that you will seek God’s guidance first when dealing with and raising your children.  No matter the age, no matter the stage, we all need Jesus’ supervision.

God is The Ultimate Parent.  Let’s learn from Him.  Open the bible and follow His example in parenting. Pray without ceasing.

  • Children are a gift from the Lord; Psalm 127:3
  • Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6
  • “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

There are more, but here are some journal entries on parenting:

The Joys of Parenting

Being a Parent isn’t for Sissies

Do you have Attitude?

They may get mad but they’ll end up glad

follow God heart“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.  I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”  Jeremiah 17:9-10

“A Letter from God, Vol. 6”

Dear Child of Mine,

­I need you to do Me a favor…don’t follow your heart.  I know that you’ve probably been advised by someone, at some point in your life, to do so, but I would rather you do something else.

Why don’t I want you to follow your heart?  Because the heart is devious.

This world is full of good and evil, so I need you to protect your heart.  Everything flows from your heart.  Really!  All that you see and hear doesn’t just go into your mind, but your heart.

Another phrase you’ve heard is “Garbage in, garbage out” .  Yep, it’s true.  When you surround yourself with goodness, you store decency in your heart.  The same goes for all the evilness you envelop in your life…you store wickedness in your heart.  Please try your best to fill your life with honesty and things of integrity.

Don’t just protect your heart and fill it with goodness, but trust in Me completely.  Yes, I know you often play ‘tug-of-war” with giving me control of your heart, but haven’t you learned by now that when you don’t give me a small portion of your heart, but ALL of it, your life goes so much better.  My course for your life will give you much delight.

Oh, precious child, speaking of delight…delight in Me!  When you do find your pleasure in Me, boy oh boy, do I have a gift for you.  Your heart desires so much, but you will discover that when you delight in Me, I AM the desire of your heart!  That brings a smile to My face just knowing that you desire and delight in Me.

So go ahead and protect your heart, fill it with goodness, and delight in Me.  When you do you will find the strength that can only come from Me.  You and your heart will be happy.  I sure hope you find your satisfaction in Me.

Remember, I am the Great Physician.  I am the Heart Doctor.  I examine your heart and know all your secrets.  Are you putting a smile on My face?

I love you,

God

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.  Proverbs 17:22

 

 

IMG_7627   “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

“Lessons from My Kitchen:  Part 7”

Oh, and you thought I was done with this series, didn’t you?

First of all, I want to thank you for your encouragement throughout this mini-series of Lessons from My Kitchen.  I received a text from a friend the other day and it just made my day.  I asked her if I could share, and she agreed.  Here’s how this bit of encouragement transpired:

My friend texted and sent the following pictures:

“I’ve been following your blog and love your Lessons from My Kitchen.  It’s helped me, and I catch messages in the weirdest places!!  The pics are from my son!  I was upset with something he was doing while mowing, and when he walked away he realized that he had upset me.  The next think I know is I get this message from him (see photos).  I hugged him and told him to leave it.  We left it there for a day before finishing mowing the yard.  Lessons from my Yard!”  I can you see it?  He mowed, “I love you”.

I love it!  “Lessons from my Yard”, that is definitely a great place for God to reveal something new to you.  Thanks for sharing.

Lessons from my yard youLessons from my yard ILessons from my yard heart

 

I always find God speaking to me in and through the various avenues in life, and hope that when you read Soakinguptheson.com that you will be encouraged to open your eyes and allow Him to speak to you in often unusual places.  Success!  I would LOVE to hear your stories as to where God has spoken to you lately via everyday life.

Now, for today’s lesson:

Yes, I’ve touch on family already in Clutter or Treasures, but I can’t help but feel surrounded by family love in my kitchen.

We lived close to my maternal grandparents.  I would walk through the woods or ride my bike or ATV to my Granny and Grandpa West’s home almost daily.  So many wonderful childhood memories come to mind when I think about all the visits to my grandparents’ home.  Fishing and feeding the massive fish in their pond, climbing the wickedly curved trees, getting eggs from the chicken coop, playing football with my brother’s in the yard, playing cards with my granny, having grandpa cut the crust off my PB&J all while he could cut it into four pieces, piddling in my grandpa’s barn, crawling up in granny’s lap to do word-searches, etc.  Oh how the list could go on.  Their home was small, but overflowing with love.

The two items pictured, that are proudly being displayed on my kitchen wall, are treasures for me.  My granny would make homemade chicken-n-dumplings using the rolling pin, and my grandpa made the intricate woodblock cutting board. My eyes are filled with tears of joy and precious memories now just thinking about my late grandparents.

Granny and Grandpa were Christ followers.  They loved the Lord, and raised their children and grandchildren to do the same.  I’d love sitting next to them in church and resting my head on her “fluffy” arms, and getting either a piece of gum or a butterscotch candy from my grandpa. I am imagining their smiles now.  They adored having family around them.

I remember a little chalkboard that granny had hanging beside her phone in the dining room.  For the longest time she had Joshua 24:15 written on it for all to see. And then, in 1987, nine years before her Homecoming to Heaven, she wrote “I love each and everyone but most of all I love my Lord and Savior most”.  I would have that hanging in my kitchen too, but my sweet momma has it displayed in her home (I call dibs on it, momma.)

granny's chalkboard9:58:42 AM

Yes, anyone who visited their home knew that they served the Lord.

How about you?  Can others tell that you and your family serve the Lord when they see you or come into your home?

Remember… Look around your kitchen and ponder on what others may say about you.  Turn it into a God lesson.  I hope you stay tuned for a couple more “Lessons from My Kitchen”.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie

 

 

The Ultimate Finder “Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24

I can just imagine God saying this and ending it with a “Duh!  Helloooo, I’m GOD.” Okay, maybe not.  I can’t see Him as being sarcastic, but…really.

When I read this verse my mind went straight to the game of “Hide-n-Seek”.  I know that I’ve written about it before, so I searched it on the website and found seven journal entries with this theme of “Hide-n-seek with God”.  Rereading those entries were encouraging to me, as I hope they will be to you.

In the Easy-to-Read version it states, Someone might try to hide from Me in some hiding place. But it is easy for Me to see that person, says theLord, because I am everywhere in heaven and earth.”

The next time you think that you may have an “ideal hiding spot” while you are in the middle of sin, think again. What a novel idea…think. Think before you do or say and I bet you’ll keep yourself out of a lot of trouble, and God will be pleased with what He sees.

So the next time you think you are playing Hide-n-Seek with God, remember that God is the Ultimate Finder. I want to encourage you to hide yourself in Him.

I pray many blessings and much joy for you! Have a wonderful day. – Stephanie