Daily Walking with God

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Walking in the Word

Plant City's First Baptist Church

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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.)

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