Daily Walking with God

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Walking in the Word

Plant City's First Baptist Church

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Monthly Archives: September 2017

seek first

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

“What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what He wants you to do. Then He will give you all these other things you need.” ERV

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” NLT

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” MSG

I see it!

That is the title to the new sermon series my pastor is preaching at church. While I was pondering on what to write and being still to hear God’s guidance, those three words came to mind.

I see it. I see it. I see it, every day! I see it in my life, my family’s life, friends, and our world. I see that when we do NOT Seek God first, well…let’s just say that I (we) tend to get selfish, amongst other not-so-good-for-us frames of mind, and we begin playing our own god, even without knowing it, and maybe even with the best intentions.

We have an infinite amount of choices we make each day. I want to challenge you to seek God first.

No matter how tremendous or trivial your situation or options may be, seek God first.

His ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8). Nope. His way is perfect and flawless! (Psalm 18:30). Seek God first.

I’m telling you. I’m telling you. I’m telling you…when I seek God first, the result in joyous, glorious, and perfect.

I may not get the answer or insight right away, but when I “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10), and “wait patiently for the Lord, and wait confidently for Him” (Psalm 37:7)…the answer is true and best. Seek God first.

So, take a deep breath, be prayerful in all you do, trust in Him, be obedient to His will, and know that it will all be okay in the end when we seek God first.

As my pastor would say at the end of the sermon, “Do you see it?”

I hope that you will not only see it, but know that when you seek God first life is sweeter.

Now, my thoughts are rushing…does it mean that our life will be easier? No. Does it mean that when I seek God first I will have a no troubles in life? No. Does it mean that when I seek God first the consequences to my actions (by God, not man) will be rewarded or smiled upon by Him? Yes!

Okay, I think I’m done now. Have a glorious day! Seek God first!

Many blessings to you and yours, Stephanie

#seekHimfirst  #priorities #Godknowsbest

 

 

 

stand up for our flagOn August 26, 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.

Look. What. He. Started!

Emotions and opinions from NFL fans, and all citizens, are being displayed and heard all over all forms of media.

In Proverbs 17:14 we read, The start of an argument is like a small leak in a dam. Stop it before a big fight breaks out. Well, I believe the dam has broken. Even as quiet as Kaepernick started it, his actions spoke volumes.

I feel certain that the message from Kaepernick has even gotten somewhat lost for some, and this protest has reared another ugly head of its own. But, when you mess with an iconic and such a symbolic form patriotism as standing for our National Anthem, you’ve taken your “silent protest” to another level.

I heard from a friend who served our country as a United States Navy Seal. He bleeds red, white, and blue. In our messages, he displayed two photos for me. The first picture depicted a young child being handed his parent’s folded flag at their funeral. My friend commented, “I want the NFL in all its wisdom to explain to young minds like this why it’s ok to upstage a moment of respect for our military in exchange for social justice. Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Well said, my friend.child with flag

In the second photo, the caption states, “What taking a knee for your country actually looks like.”

taking a knee

If these photos and comments didn’t hit you in the gut, I don’t know what will.

I observe the numerous men and women who have not only lost a leg, arm, the capability to walk, hear, or see, or even their minds, but too many to count have lost their lives. Why? Because they volunteer to serve our great country so that WE can remain brave, strong, and free.

I spoke with another friend and former Navy Seal, Steve Solomon, and he said that he has no problem with citizens having the freedom to protest, but…during our National Anthem…that’s BS. He agrees with my husband and says that if you want to protest, then do something. For example, form an outreach program. Do something. Create a mechanism where you can educate the youth and people in general. It’s simple to just take a knee. But to do so during our National Anthem is the wrong stage. Not negotiable.

Steve also declared that the rules of the game state, helmet in left hand, stand, right hand on heart (see below). Rules are rules. My buddy, Steve, said, “No one is perfect. The only One (Jesus) who was perfect died at the age of 33. And…Talk to Job. He didn’t protest, and Job lost much more than what these players are protesting.” Again, well said, my friend.

The game operations manual pronounces regarding the National Anthem: “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.” http://time.com/4955704/nfl-league-rulebook-a62-63-national-anthem-rule/

I came across an interesting read on the internet. This article highlights where and why this song was written. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this story. Good read. (Click here to read.) In the article, they posted all four phrases of our anthem, with side notes:

Star Spangled Banner

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there. Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? (“Ramparts,” in case you don’t know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a Fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer. )

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep. As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream. ‘Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! (“The towering steep” is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure. In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise. During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is)

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

(The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three, and with even deeper feeling. )

Oh! Thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand, Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation, Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n – rescued land, > Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, for our cause is just, And this be our motto – “In God is our trust.” And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Powerful words!

In school, we have the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, followed by a moment of silence. (Yes, in our public school system! Thank You, Jesus!) During that moment of silence, I always encouraged the students to pray, meditate, think about, be grateful, or whatever during that moment, but remain silent. As the students stood in silence, I would pray for them and the day ahead. Yet, during the pledge, we all stood, with our right hand over our hearts, and recited the pledge to our flag. I’d often remind them of the men and women who have and are still serving our country, and the sacrifices they make for us to live in The Land of the Free. Maybe that’s one thing we can bring to our NFL. ALL stand for the National Anthem, then…you can have your silent “protest” during a moment of silence. I feel confident that many prayers for our country, the players, and many injustices would be said during that time, whether folks are kneeling, sitting, or remain standing.

One of my favorite verses comes from Micah 6:8. In it we learn what The Lord requires of us: “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Let’s do the right thing. Don’t disrespect our flag by kneeling. Be compassionate towards others, and simply obey the Lord.

Also in Micah, we read in chapter 6 verse one, Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.” The emphasis was mine. STAND UP.

Take a stand! Don’t disrespect our nation by kneeling during our National Anthem.

Take a stand! You have an issue, DO SOMETHING, not just take a knee. DO SOMETHING!

Take a stand! We are supposed to be a country of indivisibility, and one nation under God. Mr. Colin Kaepernick’s stance has created much division in our country. We need to come together to solve problems, not create them.

Take a stand! Pray. I want to encourage you to KNEEL in prayer. Even put your face to the ground, if you’re able, and pray for our country, your own heart and attitude, and any injustices.

Blessings to you and yours, Stephanie

 

Let’s get back to some decorating ideas.

First of all, I must confess…I truly felt guilty about posting ideas for decorating, when 1) I wasn’t sure if we would have a home after Hurricane Irma, or at least a roof and other structural damage, and 2) there are so many folks who were affected by the wind, rain, and tornadoes of Harvey and Irma to their homes, and they have to completely rebuild. My heart just wasn’t in it. (The last decorating post was on September 5th!)

Secondly, since many of us have or are persevering through the aftermath, it’s definitely time for this next post!

I’d like to remind you that our taste in décor may differ, maybe about as much as our opinions on various subjects vary. Yet, I hope you will take away from this mini-series:

  • To decorate your home with things that you love
  • To show your personality in your style
  • To share your love for Christ through various avenues of décor.
  • To NOT decorate just because of an empty space, but to wait to fill a space with something that speaks to you
  • Inspiration comes from all over…I hope our home inspires you.

I know when I travel, thumb through magazines, watch decorating shows, or even simply visiting a friend’s home, I get inspired. I may see some things that look great, but not necessarily for me, or say, “I totally want to try this in my home!”. When friends come to my home and ask, “Would you mind if I did this too?” or “Where did you get this, so I can do the same?” I take that as a complete compliment and am humbled.

Here we go…Volume 4…The master bathroom.

Some may question, “Why would she say it’s definitely time for this next post when she wants to share her bathroom?” Well, after all the laboring of getting one’s home back in order after a storm, doesn’t a nice hot bath sound relaxing? I know it sure does for me.

IMG_1151

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.” John 14:1

We had a clawfoot tub in our last home. I believe our dog got more baths in it than I did. Since we’ve moved to our newly renovated home, I was forced to bathe in the tub due to an accident the day before Thanksgiving. That habit has stuck with me throughout the months that followed. #lovemytub. When I soak in that tub, it feels as if all my troubles are washed away.

“This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

Like me, those curtains are a work in progress. I wasn’t finding the window panels that just spoke to me, so I visited a fabric store and saw this material. The colors were perfect to coordinate with the décor in my master bath. I purchased the material and got busy cutting and gluing. Yep, you read that correctly…gluing. I’m not one who sews. So, my “work in progress” is this…maybe you can give me your opinion…the curtains have plenty of extra material, draping the floor, so should I: use it to cover shades for the iron chandelier, trim enough so that’s barely touching the floor, or don’t worry about it at all?

IMG_1149

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.” Psalm 62:5

The wall plaque above my tub comforts and encourages me. It is well with my soul. Yes! No matter the challenges that come my way, it is well with my soul, as long as I’m with Jesus in and through it all.

IMG_1152

 

From this time on we don’t think of anyone as the world thinks of people. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we don’t think that way now.  When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new! 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Think outside-of-the-box. I just knew that I did not desire for the ordinary bathroom cabinet. I searched furniture stores, thrift shops, online, and any place that may give me inspiration for a vanity. After a few months on my cabinet mission, I was meandering through the aisles (and this was not the first time here) of my local home décor and furniture store, Southern Hospitality. When I saw this entertainment center, I took a double take, pulled out my measuring tape, and measured the size for the space in our master bath. PERFECT! This piece of furniture that was originally intended to house a television and electronics, is now graced with a ceramic sink from Mexico, towels, soap, and all things bath. “Suddenly, everything is new!” OH…here’s a good tidbit…people often comment on this one…notice the container of small cups and mouthwash…it’s a hit.  I have this combo in each bathroom, even the outdoor bath.

IMG_1150

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

While putting on makeup, or doing my hair, I sit at my vanity and glance at a few women in my life who fear the Lord. My mom, late mother-in-law, daughter, grandmother, great-grandma, and friends are thought of each day and appreciated. These women have taught me about beauty (inside and out). Yea, I did throw in some guys into the “ladies zone”, but my husband and sons are pretty special to me. There’s room for more photos under the glass. This is an easy decorating idea to display those memories of loved ones, and they make me smile too.

I encourage you to:

  • Relax, and allow God to wash your troubles away.
  • Keep growing and maturing in your walk with Christ.
  • Put your hope in Him, and know that it is well with your soul.
  • Look at things in a new light.
  • Cherish those who have helped mold you into who you are today.

I hope you will find inspiration as you read these posts. Not only inspiration for your home, but your walk with Christ as well.

Blessings to you and yours, Stephanie

#decoratingideas #decoatewithlove #inspiration #ahomenotahouse #relax

 

 

 

 

joy and peace

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

I prayed this verse for my children today. And you know what? I prayed it for you too!

Dear Lord, You are The God of hope! I pray that you will fill my family, friends, and myself with Your abundant joy and peace today as we trust in You. May we be brimming with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Have a beautiful weekend!  Be joyful!

Blessings to you and yours, Stephanie

#bejoyful  #filledwithHislove #brimmingwithpeace

 

stormWith clean-ups, clean-outs, and all things that deal with Hurricane Irma, and on top of Harvey and Irma…the catastrophic earthquake in Mexico and another fatal hurricane named Maria…I’ve been quiet and reflective. My heart and prayers go out to all.

Heartaches and heartbreaks happen in life. Troubles and trials WILL come our way.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

That stinks! Yet it is required. Events, such as these, are required to build character in ourselves, collaborate for a purpose with others, and to demonstrate Christ’s love in desperate times.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”  Romans 5:3-5

Yesterday, I heard a news reporter mention that some say that our world will end on September 23, 2017. Well, I do agree with people that we are in the end-times, but I must also agree with God’s Word. In Matthew 24:36, 42, and 44 the Bible repeats to us that we do NOT know the date, day, time, or anything of such specifics when Jesus is coming again.

36“No one knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don’t know when it will be. Only the Father knows…42 “So always be ready. You don’t know the day your Lord will come… 44 So you also must be ready. The Son of Man will come at a time when you don’t expect Him.”

So, let’s say that man is smarter than Jesus and that man does know that September 23rd is indeed the last day. (“Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. Even the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”1 Corinthians 1:25. ) Are you ready? Is your heart right with God? Do you believe in Him with all your heart?

Yes, our world is showing true signs of the end-of-times:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Matthew 24:7

Agree?

But…we do NOT know when. So…while we wait for that glorious day:

  • Love others
  • Help others
  • ­­­­Be kind
  • Be humble
  • Obey
  • Show gratitude
  • Be holy
  • Forgive
  • Have self-control
  • Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength
  • Share and show His love with others
  • Pray

Can you? Will you? You’ve got this…with God.

Have a beautiful day. Enjoy soaking up The Son wherever you are.

Love to you and yours, Stephanie

#theendtimes  #liveforGod #shareHislove

 

Here's a photo of the group of teens who came out to our home.  Not pictured are the adults:  Pam and Bud Bowden, Susan Sullivan, Jeanne Knotts, Susan Batley, Leecy Bowden, and myself.

Here’s a photo of the group of teens who came out to our home. Not pictured are the adults: Pam and Bud Bowden, Susan Sullivan, Jeanne Knotts, Susan Batley, Leecy Bowden, and myself.

Counting it all joy…after the Irma Aftermath.

James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Harvey and Irma were not kind to our southern states, but I do love seeing people coming together to assist one another and encourage others in any way they can.

People post hashtags like #houstonstrong #texasstrong #keysstrong #floridastrong and you can fill in your own #citystrong. I hope that through all this uniting, that we can post #AmericaStrong #HurricanesCannotStealMyJoy #Godwithus.

Some observances during the aftermath:

1) GRATEFUL FOR BOOBOOS: I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has: Gained a few scratches on my arms, blisters on my hands, and headaches from not drinking enough water during clean up; An appreciation for the benefits of living in a first world country…clean water, air conditioning, a roof over my head; Had a hamper full of clothes that were drenched in sweat from working outside (oh…that’s right…women don’t sweat, the glisten…#ireallysweat).

Unlike my family though, some folks have lost their homes, boats, cars, or other possessions. Unfortunately, over one hundred lives have been lost between Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. #Prayingfortheirfamilies. We were spared with just a few (well…more than a few…a LOT) of tree branches scattered in the yard, and rising creek and pond waters which overflowed and became one large lake in our backyard (click here to see). Praise the Lord that the water is receding.

While driving around, and speaking with others, I am amazed how many massive trees were uprooted, but…they did not land on homes. A few, yes, but for as many trees fell, people’s homes and lives were spared. #PraiseGod.

2) COUNTING MY BLESSINGS: My cousin, Jen, is currently in St Thomas acting as the Deputy Incident Commander for Response and Recovery in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. This is what she messaged her family on Wednesday: “I am safe. There is no electricity and very little food but otherwise I am good. The destruction on the island ranges from very little to extreme. Some areas are very sad and they may not get electricity for months or years in some parts. Long lines are the few gas pumps and to get food and water. Very little open or available. Irma beat them up pretty bad. Not a tropical paradise right now. We are doing what we can and making some progress. It is very eerie at night and we have to be cautious because of the desperation setting in. love you and hope to see you soon.” Did you read that??? Some may not get electricity for months or years. #gratefulfornoelectricityforonlyfourdays. Please keep Jen and all involved in your prayers.

3) SHARE LOVE: The other day, my friend posted on social media, “It really makes me sad to see how people are turning against each other with horrible comments and post on FB. This is a time when we all need to pull together. Lord only knows what we would of went through had it been a cat 3, 4, or 5! Get down on your knees and be thankful.” I have no idea what negativity people were posting but I simply replied with a screenshot of my morning scriptures. It was from 1 Peter 3:8-11, “So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. The Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy true life and have only good days, then avoid saying anything hurtful, and never let a lie come out of your mouth. Stop doing what is wrong and do good.” Can I get an AMEN?! #lifeisshortbekind #aintgottimefornegativity.

4) UNSELFISH HELP IS ON THE WAY: The day after Irma passed, my family of five worked in the yard for about three hours. We made progress, but there was still more to be done. The next few days, Monday through Wednesday, we left our yard in disarray and went to help others.

It was a blessing to observe many youth (shout out to Plant City High School students and one from Strawberry Crest High) in our community helping out as well. My godfather became emotional when we finished his yard. He was so grateful and full of hope because of the compassion and service of many young folks.

On Wednesday night, we received a text to assist with another elderly lady’s yard. I must admit, at first, I was like, “I really need to get our yard done”, but then…God got ahold of me. My scripture that day was from Philippians 2:1-4. Check this out: “Think about what we have in Christ: the encouragement He has brought us, the comfort of His love, our sharing in His Spirit, and the mercy and kindness He has shown us. If you enjoy these blessings, then do what will make my joy complete: Agree with each other, be united in your goals and in the way you think. In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too.” (emphasis is mine) THANK YOU, LORD. When I dropped Cole off, I half-jokingly made the remark that when they finish, they can come to our home. The next thing you know, we had six adults and about fifteen teenagers in our backyard working for about an hour and a half.  I’d like to think that since we were obedient to Christ, He blessed us with those precious folks.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

This afternoon, I went to my dad and step-mom’s home. My 80 year-young dad was thinking he could do his yard all on his own. After working with him for a couple of hours, I looked around and texted the principal at the high school down the road from my dad’s home. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be meeting with some football players from Durant High School to help in daddy’s yard. (Shout out to DHS)

#hopeinouryouth

While serving others, I kept praising God that we are able! Ephesians 3:20, would be repeated in my mind, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Friend, because His power is in us, we are able!

HUGE shoutouts, go to those men and women who I see coming from Indiana, California, Canada, Missouri, TEXAS, and so many more states, and various counties across our state to assist in relief and recovery.  Whether you are an electrical lineman, tree trimmer, National Guard, Coast Guard,  any and all branches of the Armed Forces, volunteers from churches and many charitable organizations, FEMA, etc….please know that our state is grateful!

Let’s all keep serving together!…We who are able!

5) KNOWING YOUR ABILITY TO SERVE: There are many people who are willing to serve in various capacities. For example, it pains my mom, who recently had a total knee replacement, to not be able to assist in the yard at this time. But what has she done? She and my step-dad have had various visitors stay nights at their home while others were out of power, she’s prayed for others, and provided a wonderful home-cooked meal to our family. That’s huge! I reminded her that when I was down with my broken foot/leg, especially during the holidays and us moving in to our home, it was difficult to just sit while others waited on me. But what I could do at that time was pray and encourage others. I learned that when others want to help in time of need, #dontstealtheirjoy.

There are people who can give financially during a time of crisis. Others will lend a hand to others with their ability to do physical work. I’m grateful for my neighbors, Billy and Zack, for helping us with electrical issues pre-Irma and post-Irma. Whatever you can do to help others, do what you CAN and don’t fret over the fact that there are limitations to your serving, there are others who can and will step up to the plate. 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

I don’t know about you, but serving others helps me get out of any funks in life. I want to encourage to you serve others when you’re feeling down. I pray that you won’t only be blessing others through your service, but YOU will be the one blessed. I bet you’ll walk away with a happy heart.

6) JOY COMES IN THE MORNING: During this week, we have totally lost track of our days. I’ve heard others say, and think to myself, “What is today?” All I know is that with each passing day, joy will come in the morning. #nocluewhattodayis

7) DISASTER INTO BLESSINGS: I must thank Irma for trimming and thinning my trees. Even though there is much debris, I can visualize a better yard than before. You have to look on the bright side.

And leave it to me, while pulling large limbs, I found one that I’m keeping as a decorative piece. Why not? I’ll take it as a gift from Irma. #decoratewithnature

While preparing for possible days without electricity, we stocked our pantry with non-perishable items. #weareblessed. Instead of hording the pantry items for ourselves, GIVE! Oh my…this morning I delivered some groceries to our local United Food Bank. The director, and my friend, Mary Heysek, greeted me with a smile and a tour of the place. She loves what she does and has such a servant’s heart. There was a row of shelves bagged and ready for pick up. She said that those shelves will be cleared today by people who need assistance now. Many shelves were completely empty, which are normally stocked. There is a great need for your extra pantry groceries. If you are local, please take you non-perishables to 702 E. Alsobrook Street, Suite H, Plant City. If you are out of town, please find a local food bank and donate. Be blessing to others during tough times.

8) PRAY WITHOUT CEASING: During this time, it is wonderful to see people of all nationalities, social statuses, and political views come together. Our nation is in need of prayer. We are stronger than we think, and through prayer and with God’s great help, our nation can become united again. I just wish that our government officials in DC would put their own agenda aside, and do what is best for the American people. #USAstrong

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:4

Thank you for praying for Texas, Florida, Georgia, and ALL states devastated by the latest hurricanes. Please don’t forget about the states our west who are being ravaged by fires. #prayingforall

Have a wonderful day! Count your blessings and name them one by one. Be an encourager.  Count it all joy!!

Much love to you and yours, Stephanie

(How many hashtags did you count? The first person who comments on the website, and the first to comment under my Facebook posting will receive a “wake, pray, slay” tank, provided by me. This shirt will be purchased from my nephew’s new business in Cape Coral, Dynamic Athletic Performance. This is the first tank in their #faithandfitness series. All donations, from purchasing this shirt will be donated back to the following via gift cards: Collier County, Key West, and a Christian disaster relief nonprofit who are on their way to help Florida…if you want to see it or know more, visit the “shared” posting on my public FB wall from Elizabeth Ruth.)

My morning view.
My morning view.

 

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

God’s word is so refreshing. Refreshing in times of joy, sadness, disaster, rebuilding, and _________ (you fill in the blank).

This morning I woke to these precious words:

“Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Jesus Christ, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” Philippians 4:4-8

See! I told you God’s word is refreshing and precious!

Here I sit on my front porch…a nice breeze, birds and butterflies flying, cows grazing (I don’t think they ever stop though), the American flag wafting in the wind, sounds of nature, generators (ours and the neighbors), and Christian music in the background…and counting my blessings. Thank You, Lord, for all!

When I scroll through social media, or catch a glimpse of the news, I see many of folks grateful for being alive through the storm (PTL!), and others are complaining about having no electricity. Yea, that stinks. I’m right there with you with having no electricity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a room, flipped the switch, and shook my head thinking, “Oh, yea”. But, hang on…open your eyes…look around…we have what we need.

I know of family and friends who still are not able to return to their Irma ridden homes. Their areas are being assessed, and all they can see is a satellite view of their property. Some are home, and the waters are continuing to rise. (Prayers are appreciated!) I think about the taxi driver we had in the BVI (Tortola, specifically) back in February of this year. He was so proud of his island. His family has been there for generations. Tortola was/is their home and livelihood. In our conversation, I asked him about hurricanes through the BVI. The gentleman stated with pride how they have weathered the storms successfully with slight or no damage to their homes. I don’t believe I can say that now. After seeing photos from the islands, that we love to travel to, the devastation is horrific! Our prayers are with them, and so many others.

So, the next time you want to grumble about having no electricity (for those of us who are physically capable of going without), count your blessings. The electric companies are working around the clock to return service to all. Thank you, TECO, Duke Energy, Georgia Power, and all electric companies bringing light and luxury back to our homes and businesses.

Now, this doesn’t only apply to the millions of folks who are dealing with hurricanes and other natural disasters…this applies to any situation in your life when you feel downtrodden, having a pity-party for yourself, or are truly in the midst of some life changing turmoil.

Be joyful in all circumstances.   God provides us with all we NEED.

Remember…(emphasis is mine)

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.”

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have

“His peace can do this far better than our human minds.”

“think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.”

Have a beautiful day. Count those blessings, name them one by one.

Many thanks and prayers continue for our government officials, all Armed Forces, fire and rescue and police officers, electricians, building contractors, medical staff, and the list continues.

Much love and prayers to all, Stephanie

#survivingIrma #Godisgoodallthetime #soakinguptheson #bejoyful #countyourblessings

The sun setting through the woods.

The sun setting through the woods.

As the sun is setting on our now lakefront home, thanks to Hurricane Irma, I am reminded of what all has transpired over the past week.

This has been the longest week of preparation for a hurricane I’ve EVER been in. I’m a native Floridian, and I’ve witnessed and been in my fair share of them. From observing the beginnings of Irma, to seeing her devastate islands that I love to travel to; purchasing more water, food, and gasoline that I think I ever have for a hurricane; witness the most populated evacuation emerge; seeing family and friends have to leave their homes not knowing if they will even have a home to return to; imagining the worst, hoping for the best, and fresh off the heels of Hurricane Harvey…it has definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions.

If you read the bible verses and prayers that I posted, you could probably sense the uneasiness in my prayers. I was reminded of David, when he would write a Psalm and it almost sounded conflicting…“I need to feel Your strength, Lord. Thank You for Your strength.” Or in Mark 9:24 when the boy’s fathers exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”IMG_0948

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was totally believing that God was in control and is my Protector and Provider, but the size of Irma and the intensity of the storm was terrifying. My humanness was on an emotional ride.

It was a sleepless night, as Irma’s most powerful winds didn’t reach our home until well into the night. While my family was sleeping, I was a restless momma. Then…daylight came.

As the morning light became visible, it was time to assess the damage. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I opened the door to see a momma deer with her fawn gallop across the pasture. A young buck ran on the yard side of the fence, about ten yards from our front porch. He must have gotten injured, because he had a slight limp as he paced the fence line, trying to reach the other deer. It was refreshing and comforting to see God’s critters.

There was still strong gust of winds throughout the morning, but our damage was very minimal. Large limbs down, but not on any structures.  Praise the Lord! Small branches and leaves were scattered all over the backyard. The nearby creek had overflowed, and the water increased throughout the day. We often have excess water, due to the fact that we live in the Green Swamp area, but this flow of water exceeded what anyone has seen in many years. So, our backyard now appears to be lakefront property. The water will recede, and the sun will always set (even when we can’t see it).

IMG_0918Through the storm…emotionally, physically, and mentally…God was in control.

Through the storm…I would turn my focus on The Creator.

Through the storm…I’d hold out for hope.

Through the storm…we made it, with God as our Protector.

At the end of the storm…joy comes in the morning.

Whatever storm you may be going through in your life, please know, and remember…God is in control, He will see you through it, call out to Him and grab His hand, and joy will come in the morning. Your troubles will recede, and The Son will always shine.IMG_0950

We have learned what to do and what not to do during and after a storm. Just like any storms/trials in life, growth happens.

I pray that you will hold on to hope, in the midst of your storm. Grow in wisdom, knowledge, and truth through it all. Joy will come in the morning.

#WESURVIVEDIRMA.

My God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and savior – from violent people you save me. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:3-4

Blessings to you and yours, Stephanie

#HeismyRock #ComfortinChrist #HurricaneIrma

 

photo from myfoxhurricane.com I is supposed to be a cat 3 when it passes just to the left of our home.

photo from myfoxhurricane.com
I is supposed to be a cat 3 when it passes just to the left of our home.

I will praise You, LORD, through the storm!

My precious home, the entire state of Florida, is in destress. Hurricane Irma is going to wreak havoc on our land. During this time of trouble, I pray that we will all seek His face, cry out to Him, find refuge, peace, strength, and comfort in the God who is more powerful than this storm in life.

If you have printing capability, feel free to print, share with your family and friends as you gather together, and take turns saying them out loud.

When you pray these verses, please believe that God’s word is true. It is everlasting, and His love is everlasting too.

Here are just a smidgen of bible verses turned into quick prayers for you to use and repeat as you go through a storm, or Hurricane Irma.

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

Lord, YOU are my hiding place. You say You are not only present, but EVER-present in times of trouble. Please let me feel Your existence around me, giving me strength. Thank You for giving me strength and protection. Amen

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in You I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” Psalm 57:1

Dear Lord, disaster is here. Thank You for shadowing me with Your wings. I need to sense Your protection. I find security in You. Have mercy on me, my family, and my state. I love You, Lord. Amen

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet water, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23

You are all I need, Lord. During this time of distress, I will find delight in You. Lord, You are walking with me through this storm. Thank You. Even though I’m surrounded my trouble, I will not fear because YOU ARE WITH ME. Comfort me, Lord. Thank You for comforting me. I am blessed. Yes, even during the path of destruction, I will count my blessings. I need You. I love You. I thank You for Your calmness and refeshness. Amen.

“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blamesless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”

Lord, You are faithful! Your word is true. Thank You for being the God of peace. I need to feel your peace within me now. Give me peace. Amen.

“My God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and savior – from violent people you save me. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:3-4

Lord, You are my Rock! You are solid when I feel weak. Thank You for saving me. Shield me in times of trouble. You’ve got a grip on me, Lord. Keep me tight in Your hand. You are worthy of praise. Help me to praise You in and through the storm. Amen.

“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. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber, indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life’ the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:1-6

Dear Lord, thank You for watching over and protecting me. I need help, so I look to You. You are my help. You don’t only watch over me now, but forevermore. Keep Your eyes on me and Your hand in mine. Amen.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Dear Lord, my mind and heart is racing. Help me to just breathe and find calmness in You. You tell me to be still and know that You are God. Yes, You are God. Thank You for calming my fears. I will praise and exalt You now and forever. I rest in You, Lord. Amen.

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” Thessalonians 5:11

Lord, during this time of trouble and uncertainty here on earth, help me to comfort others as You comfort me. Thank You for your comfort. Amen.

The eye will be going over my home. We will actually be in the worst position to be, to the near east. Though my heart, stomach, head, and all may feel a rollercoaster of emotions, I will TRUST IN THE LORD. He is my anchor!

I love you all and pray for y’all.

Blessings to you and yours. And remember…even when you can’t see the sun, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

#staysafe #survivingIrma #HeismyRock #ComfortinChrist #HurricaneIrma #HeismyProtection #prayingforIrmavictims #Heismyanchor

 

 

IMG_0840

The calm before the storm/hurricane.

Ahhh, the calm before the storm.

Stephanie, the encourager, needed some serious encouraging yesterday. With each update on Hurricane Irma, the latest had her zooming through central Florida (where we live).

I heard my youngest son (age 15) calling my name. At that time, I was sick to my stomach, knees to the floor, face cuddled in my hands as I bow down, eyes beginning to fill with tears, and praying Irma away! I replied, “I’m in the room praying.” While, still face down, I could hear the door crack open, and then quietly close to leave me in peace.

My prayer warrior brothers and I have been texting and keeping each other updated (one lives in the same town as me, and the other two live in Georgia). The latest text from me was, “Brothers!!! Cole just came looking for me and said, “Mom, where are you?” I’m in Holly’s room praying on my knees for wisdom and crying. Seriously! This just got real! Your strong sister is weak right now.” Within minutes, I knew the praying had begun on their end. As I was praying for wisdom, discernment, and peace, I could feel the release of tension and anxiety being lifted from my being.

I got up and had to busy myself with more preparations outside. With each passing moment, I could feel God’s gentle hand holding me and calming my mind.

This morning, I poured some hot tea and headed out to our Adirondack swings. Soaking up some Jesus, while the sun was rising, was just what The Doctor ordered.

A variety of birdlife was singing, squawking, and flying about. The wind was passive, the pond was still, and house was quiet with my peacefully sleeping family.

I reread my daily scripture, and just shook my head and smiled in agreement.

“Show me what you want me to do. You are my God. Let your good Spirit lead me over level ground. LOR, let me live so that people will praise your name. Show me how good you are and save me from my trouble. Show me your love and defeat my enemies. Destroy those who are trying to kill me because I am your servant.” Psalm 143:10-12

Do you see why I had to smile and shake my head? Exactly what I have been praying over the past eighteen hours. “What do we do??? Do we go or stay?” and sooo many more questions and thoughts that flood my mind.

My family has prepared and will continue to ready ourselves as Irma approaches us. (We are not in an evacuation zone.)

All I know right now is:

  • God is in control! Total control.
  • He knew about Irma a long time ago.
  • We need to be prepared. (Click here for entry titled “Are you prepared?”)
  • Reading God’s word gives me comfort and peace.
  • Love!
  • Serve.
  • Give.
  • Pray!
  • Rest in Him.
  • Cast all anxieties on Him and keep my eyes on Jesus.
  • Although Irma is the Atlantic’s most powerful storm to date, our God is MORE POWERFUL!

I pray for ALL those in the path of Irma, volunteers, government officials, electric companies, search and rescue teams, all Armed Forces assisting, police, firemen, and anyone helping get our great Sunshine state back to some normalcy. (As I just saw three rescue helicopters flying over my home…this is serious!) Dear Jesus…I have times of tears when I see scenes of the seriousness of it all…from those helicopters to a fleet of electric company trucks driving down the interstate this morning. Peace.  Peace.  Peace, dear Lord!

Please take time to say a kind word to others, help out your neighbors, embrace the calmness before the storm, trust in God, love big time, and say your prayers.

Note…if you are preparing for the impact of Irma, take photos and/or videos of your home. I hear it has helped Harvey victims.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Isaiah 41:10

Stay safe. Love to all, Stephanie

#prayingIrmaaway #goawayIrma #beprepared #guidance #Godismorepowerful #trustinHim