I couldn't resist.  Too funny.

I couldn’t resist. Too funny.

I don’t even know where to begin.  So I’ll keep it simple and focused.

When I read the verse for the day from Psalm 62:7 , it was powerful.  I wanted more of it.  So I opened up the entire chapter and read it over and over again.  God’s word is so moving and marvelous! Can I get an “Amen”?

No matter how many thoughts would run through my head, one them continued to stand out…CHANGE.

My heart settled on Psalm 62:11.  It says, “God says there is one thing you can really depend on, and I believe it:  ‘Strength comes from God!’” In The Message translation is simply puts it: “God said this once and for all; how many times have I heard it repeated? ‘Strength comes straight from God.’”

When I woke up this morning the word “change” was on my mind.  You lose a loved one…your world changes.  You sell your home and make a move…your location changes.  People…change.  Whatever the situation is, you may or may not like that you are going through the change, but one thing stands true…GOD NEVER CHANGES.

I’m the first one up in the mornings around our home.  I’ve got my little routine.  Well, this morning, while walking down the hallway, I heard the television on.  “That’s strange” I thought.  When I curiously entered the family room I noticed that my eldest son, Hunter, was sleeping on the couch. “What?”  I turned off the tv and quietly went about my routine. (He’s still sleeping as I’m sitting here reading and typing.)

When I took our dog, Marley, outside, after a while she always races back inside and plops herself on the couch.  But this morning, as she pranced on the wood floors, you could hear her little paws come to a halt when she discovered that her normal routine was interrupted.  Her couch was occupied by a much larger body than hers.  Bless her heart, as I’m sitting here typing this she has yet to settle down anywhere.  She didn’t move to another comfy location, she is paitently waiting for her position back on “her” couch, while standing in the other room.

Earlier I mentioned the scenarios of a death, a move, and people. In life, things and situations will change. I’ve been hrough all, so I can testify to them.  But I hope that whatever your change is, that you will find your strength in God, The One Who never changes.

Verse 8 of this same chapter reads, People, always put your trust in God! Tell Him all your problems. God is our place of safety.” AMEN! Tell Him all about how you are either excited or totally NOT happy about your change.  He’ll listen, and He’ll even make things okay for you.  Knowing God, it will be better than okay, it will be a true blessing in disguise. To Him be ALL the glory.

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

OMGoodness at the hair! This is Holly loving on her baby brother just before delivery.

OMGoodness at the hair!
This is Holly loving on her baby brother just before delivery.

“God has blessed you in ways that serve Christ. He allowed you to believe in Christ. But that is not all. He has also given you the honor of suffering for Christ. Both of these bring glory to Christ. Philippians 1:29

When you’re pregnant you will probably go through some suffering.  I know women who were sick from the get-go.  A smell, certain foods, brushing their teeth, someone looked at them the wrong way, I don’t know (!), but something gave them an “ugh” feeling inside of them and they just couldn’t contain themselves.

Don’t be a hater, but I was one of the lucky ones.  I loved being pregnant! I gained the same amount of weight each time (mainly in the belly), and never went through that queasy feeling time.  Well, there were a few times I remember when I would almost gag while brushing my teeth, but I learned how to control my throat muscles and breathing. And then, when I was preggy with Holly, I had a headache for three months. I remember walking around the school where I was teaching with sunglasses on each time I walked outside because the sunlight would penetrate through my skull.  She was sucking all the hormones out of me, I guess.  Finally, the doctor said to take an Advil and chase it with a Coke.  I did, and the headaches were gone!

Now the time has come.  Your little one is ready to say “Hello, world”.  Now, the pain and suffering kick-it-up a few notches.  Some moms-to-be use various techniques, positions, controlled breathing, and even some good ole drugs to assist them through the agony.  I used all of the aforementioned.  Oh but the elation that you experience once you get to hold your little bundle of joy, is one of relief.  Glory!

When you are a Christian, your experience will be about the same. It is a true blessing to be able to serve Jesus Christ.  But…it’s not sunshine and roses.  Notice that in Philippians 1:29 it says, “He has also given you the honor of suffering for Christ.”  You WILL go through troubles and trials.  Satan WILL try his best to challenge you and make you doubt your salvation and loyalty to God.  No matter what your suffering looks like, consider it an honor.  Remember that you are NOT alone.

Just like there are various techniques, positions, and drugs a woman can use to aid her thorugh the suffering of pregnancy and delivery, the same goes for your walk with and in Christ.  For example, time in the bible, prayer, and meditation with songs can be “various techniques” to help you through your difficult time.  Consider God as your drug.  That is the one drug that you are allowed to get addicted to.

Your joys and your sorrows can and will bring glory to God.

I hope you live in ecstasy with Christ.

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

sonshineIn 1 John 1:5, John wrote:  “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.”

Then he went on to write some cause and effects in verses 6-10.  I want to encourage you to read, reread, and marinate on these verses.  Examine yourself.  Pray, and pray earnestly and honestly. Ready yourself to walk in The Light and show it to others.

If…we say we have (claim, experience) fellowship (share in life) with God,

But… go on living in spiritual darkness (yet walk in the darkness/continue living in darkness/continue to stumble around in the dark)…WE ARE LYING! (verse 6) Ugh!

If…we are living (walking) in the light, as God is in the light,

Then…we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin (washes away every sin and makes us clean/purifies us from all sin) (verse 7) Yeah!

If…we claim (say) we have no (free of) sin

Then…we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth (deceive/fool ourselves and the truth is not in us) (verse 8) Ugh!

BUT…

If…we confess (admit) our sins to Him

Then…He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (purify us from all unrighteousness) (We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done.) (verse 9) Yeah!

If…we claim (say) we have not sinned,

Then…we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts (we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us/we are saying that God is a liar and that we don’t accept His true teaching/ we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.) (verse 10) GOD AIN’T NO LIAR!

There are some ughs and some yeahs, and glory to God for setting us straight. Are you walking in the light?

I know that I detest lying! But I also know that since the year 1980, when I Christ into my heart, I have made myself a “liar” a few times, according to verse 6.  It breaks my heart that I blatantly went against what I knew God did not want me to do.  Praise God that He allowed me to live through it and gave me the opportunity to confess and make right. (Oh there’s another journal entry and some strong verses that go with that scenario.  Ouch!)

I hope you have a beautiful day filled with Sonshine within you as you share The Light with others by the way you walk.

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

Mug shot? America's Most Wanted? Zombie? Old-Timey photo? No, just a recent pic of me with rectangular looking lips. LOL!!!

Mug shot? America’s Most Wanted? Zombie? Old-Timey photo? No, just a recent pic of me with rectangular looking lips. LOL!!!

No, you’re not looking at a mug shot of someone.  The zombie apocalypse didn’t even happen. This picture made me laugh so hard I cried!

When my family was returning from a recent international trip, we went through the new (well, new to me) customs self-serve kiosk. I’m used to waiting in this long, long, long line to return back to my country.  But now, they have a kiosk set up for you to use with your passport before you show it to the customs agent.  (So just a shortened long line.)

We were reading each screen to make sure we followed directions carefully.  One of the final screens informed me to look at the screen for a picture.  I had no clue what was going on and that my picture was going to be taken, printed, and shared.

Well!  Much to our surprise, this thing (I mean picture of me) appeared on the screen.  We all cracked up!  Jokes on and about mom!

The rest of the family smiled for their photograph as if they were having a glamour photo session. (Well, maybe not that glamorous, but at least a nice smile.) The laughter still continued.  We had people looking at us.  Others must have experienced the same because I heard other giggles, and they were not seeing my lovely photo, across the multiply kiosk stations.

We then proceeded to the next line.  Laughter still lingered.  I had tears streaming down my face from so much laughter.  When we reached the customs agent, he grabbed my passport and the new importation photo to compare the two pictures.   My “most wanted” photo even made him smile and chuckle.

This photograph is definitely not my best snapshot.  Tim even said it looks like I went to get a messed up Botox job done on my lips before I went to rob a convenient store.

In Psalm 2:4a we read, But the one who rules in heaven laughs at them. I bet God got a good laugh at the photo as well.

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Last night Tim and I were watching the show on truTV called Impractical Jokers.  We were cracking up!  I was laughing so loud the kids came in the room wondering what in the world was going on.  We all had some great laughs together while watching these four comedians, who have been life-long friends, compete in practical jokes on one another.

Laughter is good for the soul!  As Proverbs said, it is good medicine.  Do you need a dose of laughter?  Oh wait, I think I gave you at least one good laugh today by posting my mug-shot, I mean photo.

Hey, you’ve gotta be able to laugh at yourself. William Arthur Ward once quoted, “To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”  According to William, I am in the prime of my life.

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

A plethora of bible verses on laughter can be found here.

I captured this pictured while we were in Costa Rica this past month.  God must have known that I'd use it. :)

I captured this pictured while we were in Costa Rica this past month. God must have known that I’d use it. :)

Every time I write the date, March 23rd, it takes me back a few years.

On March 23, 1985, Tim and I had our first date. (We were juniors in high school.)

On March 23, 1991, Tim asked me to marry him. (Of course I said, “Yes!”)

So when I woke up this morning and knew the date, many years of memories came flooding into my mind.

I am a blessed girl.  Yes.  I have a man whom I love and he loves me.  He makes me laugh, keeps me in line, supports me, and encourages me along life’s way.  Tim is a godly man.  He is my best friend.

Is each day the best-day-ever for me and my man?  No way!  Do we get frustrated with each other?  Absolutely.  But we have each other’s back and love each other unconditionally.  We work through it all.  God willing. We even sometimes drive each other crazy, but that’s not always a bad thing. (wink wink)

I know that marriage is work, and if you don’t, well…think again.

I have a friend who is going through the early stages of divorce now, but they have hope and are trusting in God in all circumstances.  I know of marriages that after 27 years ended.  I know couples who have persevered and their marriage survived extramarital affairs with a stronger marriage because they worked hard and gave it all to God.

My friend, who is going through a hard time now, shared these quotes with me:

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French poet.

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa

I discovered another quote I thought I’d share:  “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”  Amy Carmichael, missionary in India

Colossians 3:18-19 in The Message translation says, Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.  Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.”

I pray that you will have a marriage that exemplifies God as its foundation and be in love with each other deeply.

Tim, I LOVE YOU! Thank you for putting up with me the past thirty years. (What? 30? Wow!)

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

A page from the devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  Great book!

A page from the devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Great book!

Confession time.  Yesterday afternoon I had a not-so-good attitude about a situation.  It was over something VERY trivial.   But I still did not have on my best Christian mind-set.  My attitude didn’t last long, but long enough to know that I let God down with my selfishness.   (Selfishness. Ugh! That’s a nasty word.  God calls us to be selfless.  I know that!  I even know that when I am selfless, I feel so much better and blessed in life.)

It wasn’t long when I was telling God how sorry I was about my words and attitude.  I feel sorry that I let my dear friend see my attitude.  (Another ugh!)

This morning I woke up and did my usual chat with God before I even got out of bed to face the day.  Again, I apologized and asked for forgiveness for my yucky attitude the day before.  All was well.  No worries.  Things will work out the way it is supposed to be.  Life is good.  Yep.  Time to move on.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.1 John 1:9

Then, a couple of things happened, as if God was making sure I was put in my place.

Our dog, Marley, sleeps in a doggie-crate.  Well, last night we forgot to put her in her crate.  Guess what I was greeted to this morning?  Yep, poo-poo.  I grinned and thought about how “poo-poo” my attitude was yesterday. (Okay, I get it, and agree.)

Then, when I went to read today’s devotion in Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling book, I felt as if God was just hitting the nail with the hammer one last time to make sure I got the point. (Read the picture for the devotional.)

Now, the verses that were referenced spoke about a more desperate need than my “petty” need.  But allow me to remind you, as I was, that no situation/prayer requests/praise report/whatever is too “petty” to God.  He desires for you to take it ALL to Him no matter how small or how great.  God cares about every detail of your life. Glory!

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5  

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

This has to be one of my all time favs!  Daddy and his little man.

This has to be one of my all time favs! Daddy and his little man.

How appropriate the timing of today’s bible verse is!

Nineteen years ago, at 4:16 in the morning, during March Maddness and NBA games (I remember because Tim was glued to the tv before delivery.), the “madness” stopped and JOY entered into our world.

Hunter Wayne Shuff began his walk on earth, and our lives have never been the same.  They have change for the better, for sure!

Here’s today’s verse:

“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

Our baby was born as a 7 pound 4 ounce “Little Man” (as we called him).  He craved and thrived on wholesome milk.  He has grown to be a young man who is responsible, good-natured, and quite the handsome “not-so-little man”.

I'll never forget that after being induced, Hunter's oxygen levels were dropping due to his cord wrapped around his neck.  The doctor said we have to du a C-section. I said do whatever you have to do to save the baby!

I’ll never forget that after being induced, Hunter’s oxygen levels were dropping due to his cord wrapped around his neck. The doctor said we have to du a C-section. I said do whatever you have to do to save the baby!

He has always been our roller-coaster child, because being that Hunter was our first born, we had to learn the role of parenthood along his path.  We’ve made mistakes, he’s made mistakes, been in the end all is well with my soul.

This year has been another year of learning for me as he has taken on his role as an adult.  We raise our children to be independent, and when they become that, I wasn’t ready to allow him to stop being “dependent” on me.  Oh, I know…no matter how “independent” he becomes; he’ll always need his momma and daddy.  I just pray that no matter the stage Hunter is in, that he will always depend on His Heavenly Father for everything!

Hunter 1Lately, I see my Grandpa West in Hunter.  Grandpa was always “piddlin’” on something.  Whether it was building a lawnmower, planting his garden, or just messing with his plethora of tools in his barn, grandpa was a tinkerer, and a fine one at that.  Hunter is always doing something to his truck, being a creative builder, or something.  I’m grateful that I see my grandpa in him because Hunter was born on his birthday!  I loved loved loved my handsome grandpa, and I love love love my handsome “little man”.  (I must say though, Hunter, you didn’t acquire grandpa’s wavy hair.  I think you have as much hair now as you did when you were born. LOL!!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUNTER WAYNE SHUFF!!! I love you so much, and am so proud of you!  Always love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Love always, Momma.

Me and my boy!

Me and my boy!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4:6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

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

God TOALLY led me to this last night.  I kept the calendar from 1996.  Why?  Who knows.  For such a time as this.  Precious!

God TOTALLY led me to this last night. I kept the calendar from 1996. Why? Who knows. For such a time as this. Precious!

feeling giddyThese words just make me giddy:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Not only do I feel giddiness, but comfort, hopeful, and alive!

Thanks, Paul, for penning these words that God breathed.

Do you need some encouraging at times? I do.  Do you need someone to pray for you? I just did.  Do you know Who the source of hope is?  That’s God! Do you realize that He won’t just fill you part way with joy and peace when you trust in Him, but will fill you to the tip-top of your head from your toes with them!  Do you understand that when you are overflowing with Christ’s joy and peace that others will notice? They sure do!

I knew that I had referenced this verse before in my journaling.  Check these entries out  for some encouragement.  (I hope.)  They refer to procrastination, who the Holy Spirit is, how others see you in your walk, and finding joy.

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

Can you read the writing in the sand?

Can you read the writing in the sand?

According to WebMD Nearsightedness (myopia) is a common cause of blurred vision. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. If you are nearsighted, objects in the distance appear blurry and out of focus. You might squint or frown when trying to see distant objects clearly.  We read in 2 Peter 1:9that But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

This is part three of journaling on 2 Peter 1:5-9, so let’s briefly recap for a moment.  What do they possibly not have?  They may not have those ingredients for a “GoOD Life”:  faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, patience, devotion to God, kindness, and love.

In verse nine the “they” that Peter is talking about those who have received their faith in Christ.  Sometimes we (Christians) may beat ourselves up over past sins.  Sins that God has removed from us, and His memory, but WE are the ones who keep bringing them back up. (Sometimes for good reason…to remember where we’ve been.  But other times, just for our own misery.  Get over it and move on!)

Warning and a few reminders:

  • Be careful NOT to forget that if you are a Christian you have been cleansed from your past sins.
  • Within you, you have faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, patience, devotion to God, kindness, and love.
  • Always grow in these qualities and be useful to God.
  • Don’t become nearsighted and blind.
  • Keep your focus on God.
  • Put your “God Goggles” on and see the good in others.

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

How about now? Glad you got your "focus" back. :)

How about now?
Glad you got your “focus” back. :)

be productiveOkay, so yesterday I posted “Recipe for a GoOD Life” and invited you to stay tuned for two more postings regarding this “recipe” from 2 Peter 1:5-9.

Here’s part two:

If all these things are in you and growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Peter 1:8

What things are “in you”?  Well, that would be faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, patience, devotion to God, kindness, and love.

You may say, “That’s a lot!”  Yes, but when you have Christ in your heart, all that is IN you.  You’ve got to do something to flourish and cultivate it.

Notice that in verse eight it says that “if all these things are in you AND growing”.  Just like a seed you plant, you must water and fertilize it in order for it to grow into the beautiful plant/flower/crop you hoped that it would become.  God desires for you to grow and become a beautiful creature. He doesn’t only want you to be beautiful, but productive.

Here’s some fertilizer for you: Commit yourself to have time in God’s word, worship with Christian songs, fellowship with other believers, have quality time chatting it up with Jesus, and listen to His voice.

So what will happen when you grow in your knowledge and love for God?  You’ll be useful!

In the NIV translation, verse 8 reads, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Throughout God’s word it warns us about being a slacker/lazy and ineffective.  When you asked Jesus into your heart (and I sure hope and pray that you have) your life changed, you were filled with Christ, and made ready to serve Him.  (Click on those links to see scripture back it up.)

Being unproductive is NOT what your Heavenly Father wants from you.  He wants you to be functional for Him.

Oh sure, there will be times when we may question our productiveness or wonder if we’re being useful to God, at least I know I do.  Take those moments to allow that “patience”  to grow in you and to seek  Him with all your heart.  Remember, His timing  is different than ours.  You make sure you are staying fertilized, and then one day you’ll see the fruition of your efforts.

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