IMG_4892 (1)Sweet moment…my husband rocks!

It was almost time for the sun to set. My family knows how I love to see God paint the sky.  I asked if anyone wanted to walk down to the beach with me, but all were engrossed in their own scenes. (I’m quite confident their scene wasn’t nearly as gorgeous and peaceful as the scene I was about to see was though.)

So I grabbed my phone, hopped on the bike, and headed to the sandy-shore along Florida’s Gulf of Mexico.

I was sitting on the bench admiring all the couples that were walking the beach at sunset. Truly, EVERY person had someone with them…Except for me.

No worries. God was my partner and I could just feel His peace washing over me.

I decided to take a “shadow-selfie” and send it to Tim.

No response.

I thought to myself, “He either doesn’t have his phone near him, or he’s on his way down to meet me.”

Well, just like God didn’t like for Adam to be alone in the beginning so He made Eve, God didn’t want me to be alone either.

While I was lying on the bench admiring the colors of the sky, a handsome man tapped me on the head. Tim!  What a sweetie!sept sun 3

  • “Be happy with your own wife. Enjoy the woman you married while you were young. 19 She is like a beautiful deer, a lovely fawn. Let her love satisfy you completely. Stay drunk on her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19
  • “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
  • “Wives, understand and support your husband by submitting to him in ways that honor the Master.  Husbands, go all out in love for your wife. Don’t take advantage of her.” Colossians 3:18-19

 

I just wanted you all to know that I love and appreciate my man.

sept sun 2I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

fill upIt’s time to “Fill’er up”.  No, not your car, (even though that’s probably a wise idea) but it’s time to fill yourself with something.

Yesterday for lunch I ate some vegetable lasagna.  When the lady put the helping of lasagna on my plate, I went, “Whoa! That’s too much!”  But guess who ended up eating the entire serving?  This chic did. When I finished eating, I pushed my chair away from the table and felt as if you could just roll me down the hall.  I WAS FULL!

I do not advise that you overstuff yourself like I did, unless…

In Philippians 4:4  Paul instructs us to “always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy.”  He didn’t just say it once but twice.  Be filled with JOY!  He didn’t want you to be filled with joy about just anything, like that lasagna, but filled with joy IN THE LORD!  That just gives me a little pep-in-my-step just thinking about that.

Think about all the “stuff” we fill ourselves with each day.  For example; worry, jealousy, tardiness, pride, worry, selfishness, grumpiness, trying to be someone we’re not (and probably should try to be), and did I say worry(?).   Oh, how this list could grow.  All these examples remind me of the ghost Marley in the movie A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott.  He was weighed down.  A Christmas Carol Marley

Now think about what you could and should fill yourself with each day; love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Ahhh, I can just feel the locks and chains falling off just reading these godly characteristics that we need to be overflowing with.

So, what are you waiting for?  Lay all those unwanted and weighty feelings down at the feet of Jesus, and go start allowing Christ to fill you with His goodness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 

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

psalm 121“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

When I read this verse-for-the-day on biblegateway.com, I couldn’t help but have Casting Crown’s song, I Will Praise You in This Storm playing in my “cue music part of the brain”. This is one of those songs that when I hear it while I’m driving, I just raise my hands and just about need to pull off the road to close my eyes and soak it all in. Powerful song!

This week God’s been waking me up EXTREMEMLY early.  So I’ve taken that time to pray.  The list this week seems endless.

Well, today, September 11th, is a day that we Americans now give honor and remembrance due to “A Storm” (so to speak) that devastated our nation.  Soon after that horrific day, churches were filled with people wanting to be nearer to God, searching for answers, and/or just needing to feel peace and comfort from a word from His word.  Where did our help of getting through this tragedy come from?  We turned to Jesus.

As I reflect on the extensive list of prayer needs over the past few days, “storms” are everywhere.  Death, illnesses, unstable jobs, etc. have caused much heartache to many friends.

Brothers and sisters, all I’ve got to say is…through whatever storm you are going through right now, no matter how dark and cloudy your situation is at this moment, there is Son-shine at the end.  A rainbow of His promises awaits you.  And you don’t have to wait to see His glory and feel God’s presence, it is available right now.  Jesus is here for you in the midst of your storm.

  • “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
  • “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
  • “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

 

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

(Click the song title above to view video.)

proverbs 16 3 HollyI am smiling ear to ear right now.  I just took a sneak-peek of Holly’s rough draft essay for her college English class, and I love seeing her write.   (No, you’re not confused, she is a junior in high school, but she’s taking dual enrollment classes.)

Holly and I often talk about her future.  She is one who loves to travel, learn history, be adventurous, and (even though she won’t admit it) is a talented writer.  (Maybe a travel show or magazine will be in her future.)

How can she not love to travel?  We’ve been blessed with the ability to afford our children the opportunities to travel many places that most people only dream of.

I believe Holly acquired her thirst for history from her grandmama.  When Holly was a wee-little thing, her and her grandmama would get caught up in the History channel.   Even while just watching old classic movies together, Jany would make Holly feel like she was back in time with her many “not-so-silent” movie watching time.

Holly sure has her thrills for adventure.  (See her essay below)  I must take stock in claiming a little bit of her courageous spirit.  With an adrenaline rush mother like me “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

Writing has been something that I’ve always recognized Holly having a knack for.  I remember her sitting in her room writing songs as young as seven years of age.  She lost confidence in her skill when she would have to complete “timed writing” assessments in school.  Holly is one who likes to ponder on a subject for a while, and then breathe onto the page, not write within a specific time limit. But through it all, I just kept being an encourager in her untapped talent.

When she was reading the unfinished version to me last night before I retired for the evening, I could see her passion for what she was writing about in her expressions. She was questioning me about grammar, and I said, “Lordy, please don’t let your professor read my writings.  I’m not the ‘grammatically correct’ writer.”  Holly was so precious and replied, “Mom, you write from the heart, not for a grade in class.”  You’ve got it, sista!

In Isaiah 55:8 the Lord declared, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.”   I may have thoughts as to what Holly could become in the future, but only God knows the plans He has for Holly.  “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.

One thing I do know is that I have complete confidence that if Holly always seeks the Lord with all her heart, she will be and do fabulous!  Proverbs 16:3 states, “Turn to the Lord for help in everything you do, and you will be successful.”

The same goes for you.  Turn to the Lord for everything!  He will see you through.

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

Here’s Holly rough-draft.  I believe she is a much more talented writer than I am.  But hey, like she said, “Mom, you write from the heart, not for a grade in class.”

Life’s an Adventure

According to Websters.com the word adventure means “an exciting or very unusual experience.”  Typically people associate adventure with doing things out of the ordinary or conquering fears. Continually surfing after spotting sharks in the water, traveling around Greece, and jumping off cliffs are adventures that might appeal to one’s eye. Adventure is pushing oneself to do new things that excite them.

Some might think it is idiotic others may admire it as being brave. Surfing after spotting sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, is one of my definitions of being adventurous.  As a shark enthusiast I jumped at the fact that I was diving into a shark’s habitat to do something I thoroughly enjoyed. On the contrary many beach goers or sea Landers would have gone the other way trying to avoid a possible shark encounter. A personal example that I’ve exhibited was when I just got off a wave, starting to head back, looked down and saw a four foot black tip shark inches away from my feet. At first I hesitated trying to soak in what just happened and then proceeded to go back out to continue my daily surf. Commonly people would have not gone out and would have headed for the safe shores of the beach. Taking a risk not knowing the outcome is just one way to explain what an adventure is.

Exploring a new destination and culture is exactly what one gets when traveling Greece. Visiting Olympia, where the first Olympics were ever held, and running the same tracks as the first Olympians is considered to tons of people an unforgettable adventure. Being in the same place where Aristotle shared his teachings, democracy began, and monuments were built are just few things Greece has to offer. Adventure might not always be an adrenaline rush but an exciting knowledgeable experience seeing ancient perspective and life. For historians or travelers visiting all of Greece might be the ultimate quest to accomplish. From personal experience, eating the food and meeting the locals of the country was an adventure of its own. Everywhere one looks there is history and beauty surrounding the country of Greece. Traveling an ancient world in modern time is exactly the adventure Greece can offer.

Whether it is head first or feet first jumping off of a cliff is an adrenaline rush near its peak. The anxiety builds up while one is climbing to reach the top. Taking the jump and hoping to land safely in water, moments in air regretting the jump only to finally land in the cool water. Once the unknowing factor is over one is filled with joy and proud of their leap of faith in gravity. Jumping off of a twenty-six, forty, or maybe even an eighty foot cliff is enough adventure for one to have. I personally have never hit the forty foot mark but that does not mean one is not as petrified or adventurous versus the eighty foot jumper. There is just something about risking one’s life to be adventurous that is unique. Some people may conquer a fear of heights by doing this very jump. Bravery comes hand in hand with adventures, especially jumping off cliffs. When I took the jump I did not think about it I just went for it. For most adventures one simply cannot spend an excessive amount of thinking about it or else it might just ruin the adventure part of it.

An adventure can be something bold or a memorable experience. It has many definitions that can go along with it. Life alone is a new adventure every day. The little things or activities we do that are unique lead up to the great adventures life gives us the opportunity to have.

packedDoes anyone find it strange that my husband has a duffle bag packed at all times?

Sounds crazy, I know, but between hunting and fishing seasons and vacations, his truly is packed and ready for travel.

Actually, it is pretty efficient of Tim to be prepared and ready to go in a moment’s notice.

This morning in Sunday school we were talking about how God speaks to us.  I told my 9th grade girls that God speaks to me in some pretty crazy ways.  For one, when I glanced at Tim’s duffle bag this morning it was almost as if God spoke to me through the bag.  Maybe I’m the crazy one!  But hey, He can use anything to speak to others.  Remember when God spoke through a burning bush, dreams, signs, and even making a donkey speak! (Really!  Read Numbers 22:21-31)

Anyhow…when I saw the bag, I was reminded about how we always need to prepared and ready for Jesus’ Second Coming. In Matthew 24:44  we read, Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

He IS coming back.  Woohoo!  Are you ready?

Get prepared by getting your heart right with God and live the way He wants you to live.

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

Last night three-fifths of my family watched a movie.  The movie was not a colorful/happy go-lucky/feel-good film.  But at the end of it, I sat there and said, “That was a beautiful movie.”  Tim and Holly agreed.

It was about a former British Army officer, who was tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during WW2, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him. (Bio source for “The Railway Man”:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107/)

One could possibly predict how the movie was going to end, but the journey was incredible.  Spoiler alert…It was a story of torment that turns into forgiveness.

Sound familiar?

My son, Hunter, took this AMAZING picture this summer on his phone.   Breathtaking!

My son, Hunter, took this AMAZING picture this summer on his phone. Breathtaking!

As I thought about the movie when it was over, it reminded me how Jesus was tortured and yet is the ultimate provider of forgiveness.  He is beautiful!

We read in the bible the accounts of Jesus being tortured.  If you’ve seen the movie, “The Passion of Christ”, you may have had to turn your head at how real the reality of God’s Son being beaten for you was.  Even after all the agony (ultimate bullying in today’s society) that Jesus went through, He still was able to utter the words, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”Luke 23:34.  His testimony is beautiful!

In Luke 7:36-50 we read the precious story of the sinful woman who poured her alabaster jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wept.  She may not have been physically tortured (well, then again…) but her mind was in anguish and she was ready for a healing.   The ultimate Forgiver, Jesus, said to her in Luke 7:48, “Your sins are forgiven.”The sinful woman was made beautiful!

I search on Soaking up The Son the words forgiveness and forgive to see other entries I’d written about forgiveness.  There’s plenty.  But I couldn’t help but reread one that forgiveness was given and needed.  Even after all this time, it still holds true.  And even after all this time, God turned something ugly into something beautiful.

Whatever your form of “torture” may be, aren’t you tired of it?  Relinquish it all to God.  Feel freedom.  Feel beautiful.

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

slow downHave you ever had one of those days when you thought to yourself, “Do I have a sign on my car telling others to slow me down?”  And of course that is with a hint of sarcasm.

That’s how my morning felt on my way to work.  I went to get doughnuts for teachers…closed due to illness.  I adventured to the next doughnut place…long, long line.  A semi-truck pulls out in front of me and blocks both lanes of traffic.  Get behind a car that is going below, way below, the speed limit.  It seemed that no matter how “in a hurry” I was, something was trying to slow me down.

That’s when God brought Psalm 46:10 to my mind, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Yes, God, I get it. You are that “something/Someone” trying to slow me down.

So I did exactly as He wanted me to do.  I took a deep breath and focused on Him.

Anytime today when I wanted to hurry things along, I would remember to “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Each time I said that verse in my head, a calm grin would come across my face.

God has a great way of teaching us to rely on Him.

“Thank You, Lord, for reminding me to slow down and focus on You.

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

DCIM133GOPRO“Your love, God, fills the earth! Train me to live by your counsel.” Psalm 119:64

This weekend I started diving more into the bible to learn all about Barnabas.  I get to teach about him in a few weeks, so I was reading with much intent and the desire to want to learn all I could.

While reading the Book of Acts, I just fell in love more with God’s word.  The bible is the ultimate, only true, instruction book on how we should live.

It doesn’t matter how mature you are in age or in your Christian life, we’ll always have something to learn from The Word.

It doesn’t take just one or a few readings, sermons, or lessons here and there to really get what God is trying to teach us.  Just like athletes who train for the Olympics, it much time, daily working at it, and great determination.

I pray that we will all seek and desire to learn more about how God wants us to live.

Learn it and live it.  Day by day.

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I see my children become independent and responsible citizens, I can’t help but wonder if Tim and I have done enough. Did we guide them in the way that Christ would have us to?  I can’t turn back any time.  There’s always more we coulda/shoulda done, but when I see how they interact with others, I’m pleased.

One of the greatest compliments I hear from others is, “Your children are so respectful.”  That just makes my heart smile.

Recently I heard that one mother had even told her son that he should date someone like Holly Shuff. That’s my daughter!  Parents and grandparents talk about what a gentleman Hunter is to the girl he dates. That’s my eldest boy!  And then, regarding my youngest, one of his own friends even said how Cole is like the glue that sticks all the friends together. My cup runneth over!

This world is a scary place.  That’s why Tim and I turn to the bible, like our parents did, to help guide our children in the right direction.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

We aren’t the perfect parents and our children aren’t the perfect children, but I do pray for my children and try to show them godly examples of how to live.

I’ve prayed from my children since birth.  I pray for their lives, decisions, friends, future spouses, and for them to desire God more than anything.

Their lives are in God’s hands.  I can’t think of a better place for their lives to be in.

It’s never too late to guide our children down the right path.  The path we need to show them is the one that leads to Christ.

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you like being a part of something?  Sure you do.

I see our youth at school embracing and/or yearning to be a part of “something”.

I see many young adults adventuring off to the world of college now and vying for and delighting in being part of a sorority or fraternity.

When this “season of football” rolls around, the fans display pride in the team they are cheering on by joining in on wearing their team colors.

Many times what we desire to be a part of is good for us because it builds relationships and fills our inner self with the sense of belonging.  But then, there are those times when what we desire to be a part of is bad for us for those same reasons.

Working in the middle school world, I see that sense of longing to be a part of something daily.  (Ugh…my mind just raced with all those kids who have sadly chosen to be a part of something that is not good for them. And I also can vision those poor babies who so long to be included but because of what they do or how they look just don’t get included.  Those “Outsiders”.  This scene has been around for ages and my heart goes out to the “underdogs”.  This is a whole other devotional on it’s on for another time.)

This desire to be a part of something arises in and through each generation.  But choose wisely my friend.

I’m a part of something that you can be a part of as well.  It doesn’t matter what your race, social status, or economic background is.  The President of this association doesn’t even care what you’ve done in your past or what you are a part of at this very moment.  He wants you, just as you are! Even though you may be waiting on someone to invite you in, you don’t have to.  Actually YOU are the one who has to do the “inviting”.

When I read Ephesians 2:19 this morning, I felt that sense of belonging.  It says, “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”  I am a part of God’s family.

This is one of those “good for us” groups because it builds relationships and fills our inner self with the sense of belonging in the way that is truly satisfying.  Psalm 145:16, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  This verse isn’t talking about finding satisfaction in just anyone or anything.  It’s talking about God doing the satisfying.

Oh my…do you want to know about what type of leader God is for this family?  Whether you are a part of God’s family or not, go ahead and read all of Psalm 145 .  You will be so grateful to be a part of His family.

I mentioned that YOU are the one who has to do the “inviting”.  In order to be a part of God’s family you must invite Christ into your heart.

Listen, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,(Romans 3:23).  Yes, everyone has sinned.  But, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.(Romans 10:9)  In John 14:6Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”  It’s not because you are a good person and do great things that gets you to Heaven.  It’s not your religion or church traditions that save you.  It’s ONLY through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that you will be saved and securing your place with Him.

So let me ask you again, “Do you like being a part of something?”  Sure you do. Be a part of God’s family.

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

I couldn’t help but share all of Ephesians 2 with you. Click, read, and be satisfied!