OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt seems that the past few weeks have been a season of death for many that I know and love. But I must illuminate…where their loved ones may have died here on earth; their new and eternal lives have begun in Heaven!

Last week I was driving to one of my dearest friends’ (Susan) dad’s funeral.  On the radio the song, “I Can Only Imagine” blared through my speakers. I probably had not heard that song in a few months, but the timing was perfect for that day.  As I was singing along and pondering on the words, my thoughts turned to Susan’s dad.  He did no longer have to imagine what heaven will be like; he was sitting at the feet of Jesus and gazing into our Heavenly Father’s eyes. Glory!

For those of us who are Christians, we can say with satisfaction, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55.

Yes, we, who our time hasn’t come yet, will have heartache for the absence here on earth of our loved one, but…there is complete joy in knowing that we will see our Christian family again.

Each visitation and funeral that I have attended recently, and one more this week, are “Celebrations of Life” for the passing.  They have lived lives with a heart for God and have left behind precious legacies to carry on the love of Jesus to others.

What a glorious feeling and comfort it is to know that there is more to this life than here on earth.

Until that day when we won’t have to “imagine” anymore; live a Christ-like life, love big, and share His goodness.  Put a smile on Jesus’ face.

My prayers are with all who are suffering a loss at this time.  May you find and feel God’s strength and peace.  I pray that you will know Christ so that you too will be walking the streets of gold one day.

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

Quiclovek thought:

We should take the lead of my man, Tim, as he follows The Man’s (God) lead.  Owe nothing to anyone!

All the thirty years I’ve known Tim, he doesn’t like to owe anyone anything.

So, when I read Romans 13:8a this morning, it made me think that we should contemplate about not only owing someone something that is monetarily or materially, but in character such as forgiveness and kindness.

Do you owe someone forgiveness?  Do it now.  Pray, give it to God, and make things right with others.  You will feel free in your body, mind, and spirit.

Ok, one more quick thought:

We are commanded to love others.  Love and love big!  I’ve often heard that you can’t outlove God.  But we can sure keep striving to love more and more.

Do you need to show a little more love to others, even those you don’t necessarily care to show love to?  Well, again, do it.  Pray, give it to God, and love others big.

“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” Romans 13:8

“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” 1 John 4:20

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

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

just becauseOh, dear friends, how precious it is to know that just because Easter Sunday has come and gone, The Message is still true.

Just because you’ve already worn your Easter best, possibly enjoyed a feast with your family and friends, showed up to church, and smiled for your Easter picture (well, unless you were my kids) doesn’t mean that we have to stop sharing the Good News.

Just because that “Sunday’s a comin’” saying has come and gone, doesn’t mean that it’s all over and we go back to our everyday life.

Just because we’ve heard the amazing and true story of how Jesus died for you and me and then rose again, doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be reminded of this truth.

This morning’s verse for the day came from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”

I’m thinking that just because He lives we need to live it, share it, and be reminded of His amazing love daily. 

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

Oh, this just made me think of the old hymn we used to sing, and still do, “Because He Lives”:

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus; He came to love, heal and forgive; He lived and died to buy my pardon, An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives! Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives; But greater still the calm assurance: This child can face uncertain days because He Lives! Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain; And then, as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives! Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, Just because He lives!

soaking up the sonGet your flip-flops on, and grab your sunglasses, some sunscreen, and a beach blanket.  Spring has sprung, and summer is right around the corner.  The weather is beautiful and it’s time to soak up the Son in the sun.

When I read the first part of Hebrews 1:3, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face.  Here, check it out:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being. (NIV)

God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks Him as God. (TLB)

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God. (NLT)

Who being the brightness of His glory. (KJV)

I love watching God paint the sky with His glorious sunrises and stunning sunsets, but my love for the true Son outshines those masterpieces in the sky.

A pristine weather day for me would be a low of 60 and a high of 82, with beautiful blue skies. But the weather is unpredictable and storms often come our way. Well…such as life.  Life isn’t perfect.  We have grey skies and storms in life.  But, if you enjoy watching those skies like I do, especially after a storm, hold on to your giddiness (or not) and grab your camera, because glory is a coming!

I pray that God’s radiance will shine bright in and through you today.  Soak Him up!

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

Holly...surfing in Costa Rica.

Holly…surfing in Costa Rica.

The cycle of life…we’re born, we live, and we die.  And if you are a born again Christian…you truly live after you pass through this earth. (James 4:14)

Lately I’ve been reminded (again) about how short and precious life is.

Yesterday a precious young lady came over to just let her heart out.  She had found out that day that her grandpa has unexpectedly passed away. She poured out her heart and her emotions.  In one of our conversations, she said, “I wish I would have…”

I’m sure we can all finish the rest of that sentence with shoulda-coulda-woulda thoughts. Those thoughts can be dangerous, even though they are also an awakening as to how we need to live and treat others.

My daughter reminded her friend to don’t dwell on the “I wish I would have” moments, but cherish the precious memories she does have of her grandpa.

Our friend also started another sentence with “It makes me want to be a better…” and “It makes me sad that it takes something so tragic to make us realize things we should be doing in life.”

Yes, we all go through tons of thoughts in our minds when something tragic occurs.  So, let’s challenge ourselves to live today as if it were our last.  Don’t end your day with the “I wish I would have…”, but “I did…”.  Take that phrase, “It makes me want to be a better…”, and really be that better _____, or do better at ____.

After tears were shed and memories were discussed, we also had much laughter.

Through tragedy, focus on Christ.  Feel Him holding you up.  There will be joy and laughter in the end.

This morning I woke up thinking about Wes King’s mid-nineties’ song, “Life Is Precious”

Life is precious, life is sweet Like the earth beneath my feet. Though I know, I’m passing through I know, I belong to You. Life is precious, life is sweet And this truth makes it complete. Knowing Jesus died for me Life is precious, life is precious, life is sweet

Life IS precious.  Cherish each moment.

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

"You're annoying" "Shut up" "I the good kid."

“You’re annoying”
“Shut up”
“I’m the good kid.”

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  1 John 3:16

I find it comical that after the “picture fiasco” my family had yesterday, that 1 John 3:16 appears as the Verse-of-the-day today.  God has a sense of humor and keeps things in perspective.

You see, this Easter weekend, the greatest holiday to be celebrated as a Christian, my family was all over the board.  For the most part, the boys were off hunting in Georgia, and we girls were playing here at home. So acquiring that “blissful family Easter Sunday picture” was going to be interesting timing.

As I glanced through social media, I was enjoying all the Easter pictures of friends and family who had gathered together to capture that one joyous moment of a “blissful family” photograph.  Everyone had on their brightly colored Easter attire and had picture perfect smiles on their faces. It was precious seeing all those pictures.

When I woke up that Sunday morning I hummed that song that I could still hear my late-mother-in-law singing to her grown sons, “Here comes Peter Cotton Tail…” as she would hop up the stairs to awaken her boys before church and deliver their baskets of goodies.  I still did Easter baskets for my kids (ages 13, 16, and 19), but for me…well, one child snuck out the door to attend early church with his girlfriend before I could deliver his Easter basket, one son was five hours away in Georgia, and my daughter…it was still too early for Princess Holly to arise.  So singing, while hopping up the stairs, to deliver their baskets, was not going to occur as I had envisioned when I first woke up that morning.

No worries, we’ll get together late in the day for basket picture time. Right? Ha!

We had our “perspective” right.  Three-out-of-five of us attended a wonderful worship service at church where Pastor Brian preached God’s word with great conviction, clarity, and application.  During the Sunday school hour, Brother Ricky did a fabulous job continuing the sharing of God’s word and making it real for our teenagers and us teachers. After church we gathered around my mom’s table for an Easter feast with family and friends.

When Tim and Cole finally arrived back home from Georgia, Hunter was not around for us to capture a family photo.  I sent a text to Hunter and asked him to stop by before his next destination of Easter activities so I could get a picture.  When he arrived, Tim had left again on an errand.  So I decided to take a picture of just the kids.

Ha!  “Smart comments” were exchanged between a couple of the children, and then we were “supposed” to take a photo.

I found the timing interesting how I had just read an article about how pictures posted on Facebook are “not the real story”.  The author had mentioned how yes, in this photo we look happy, but here’s what really was going on in our lives….

This was true for my picture moment.  As the kids were “at each other’s throat”, my son’s precious girlfriend told them, “Okay, get together for a picture and smile.”  My mind raced to the article that I had just read, and I stubbornly said, “No.  Forget it! I’m not taking the picture.”  I didn’t want to portray a lie.

I went inside, put on my tennis shoes, and went for a walk.  I had to clear my head and get my focus on Jesus.

Here’s some facts:

All is fine.  Life is good.  Life goes on.

Family spats will occur.  Pictures don’t tell the whole story.  Life isn’t perfect.

God is amazing.  He has a sense of humor.  Jesus did rise.  He is Lord of lords and King of kings.  Easter is a joyous time of celebration.

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

But in the end...we all love each other.

But in the end…we all love each other.

you're not alone 2Confession time…After reading today’s scripture, I guess you could say that lately I’ve been stripping. Yep, you heard it right.  I’ve been stripping!

Whew, you can always tell when God’s been working on me, because I’m silent from my journaling.  A little over a week ago, I prayed Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.Well, God always says He’s listening, and He sure was.  Like David says in Psalm 66:19, “But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Boy oh boy, did He listened and moved forward with my request. God not only examined me, but He tested me as well.  The Lord really made me take a good look at myself and find some areas that I needed to work on.

I’ll leave the specifics between God and myself for now, but I just wanted you to know that:

  • When you talk to God, He does listen.
  • When you get real with God, He gets real with you. (Don’t be afraid, it’s all good in the end!)
  • When you rid yourself of those things in life that are not pleasing to God, He gives you peace.
  • When you rid yourself of sin, it is freeing!
  • When you keep your eyes on Jesus, and not yourself, your perspective comes into focus.
  • When you keep your eyes on Jesus, you realize that you are not alone. He’s been there done that and has others who have gone down that same path as you cheering you on as encouragement.
  • ­­When you stick with God, you are hanging out with The Champion. He triumphed the weight of carrying every-one-of-our-sins when He died on that cross.
  • When you stick with God, there is joy, abundant joy, waiting for you!

Today’s scripture: The Message translation of Hebrews 12:1-3 reads:  “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

NLT:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

God is always working on you!  Never give up!  He’s not giving up on you.

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

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