Daily Walking with God

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Plant City's First Baptist Church

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Monthly Archives: October 2017

My Little Precious ones back in about 13 years ago.

My Little Precious ones back in about 13 years ago.

I remember, when I was growing up, my mom always produced the most creative and spooky “haunted house” at our elementary school’s annual fall festival. Fake smoke sometimes filled the air, and caskets had volunteers being raised at the appropriate time to casually frighten the house visitors. (It was an elementary school, for goodness sake, so it was very tame.)

My dad was legendary for his creepy “mu-ha-ha” laugh, which he did every Halloween. When I was in the sixth grade, his haunting laugh was projected on the loud speaker for all to hear.

I believe my go-to Halloween costume was a witch. My grown children probably think I still am in that costume-witchy-mode at times.

Candy, candy, and more candy was stockpiled that we received from our neighbors. (Yes, back then…we ONLY went to our neighbor’s home, which, BTW, we knew.) I don’t recollect anyone skimping on the good sugary sweets either. (I think I’m craving chocolate as I type this.)

My older brothers would occasionally opt for tricking the passersby instead of receiving or giving treats. You know, the ole tie the fishing line to a purse trick, wait for a car to stop to retrieve it, and then slowly pull it off the side of the road prank? Yep, that was an often-repeated prank. (We lived out in the country. The roads weren’t too busy.)

The older I got, the crazier and scarier Halloween became. There’s some wacked-out-for-Halloween-peeps out there. Having people grab me or chase me with a chainsaw, isn’t for me.

Something else that (or someone who) isn’t for me…the scariest deceiver of all…Satan!

I may have dressed up like a witch when I was young, but Satan is the ultimate witch/vamp/enchanter/sorcerer. He has been known for his various disguises: angel of light, a serpent, a dragon, and a sheep…just to name a few.

However your feel about this time of year…I prefer to enjoy the fall weather, football, bonfires, and pumpkins…whether you participated in Trick-or-Treating as a kid or not…I think I turned out just fine, just beware of the one in costume who comes to steal, kill, and destroy…the devil.

He is real. He is scary. He has already been defeated! He was defeated when Jesus died for us on the cross. Hallelujah!

Be safe. Be kind. Be Christ’s.

Many blessings to you and yours,

Stephanie

But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

The serpent said to the woman… (The serpent was Satan.) Genesis 3:4

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion of Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Revelation 12:9

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

 

 

i want what he wants When children are at a very early age, they talk about what they want to be in life. Now, it seems that students practically must declare their line of study for college while in middle school. I remember changing my major three times my first year of college, and my daughter has followed in the same pursuit. (She is pretty stoked about her current, and possibly/hopefully/whatever-God-wants final, decision.)

Here I am, one-month shy of turning forty-nine, and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.

I took a personal leave from teaching middle-school math this year. Since the decision was made I either hear people say:

  • “Are you going back to teaching?”
  • “What are you going to do with yourself?”
  • “What do you do all day long?”
  • “What’s your plan now?”

UGH!! I can say that I am in a season of “I. DON’T. KNOW.” right now.

Am I alone in this season? Have you been there, done that?

My response to the above questions are:

  • “I’m taking it one year at a time, but probably not. I don’t know.”
  • “I want this to be a year of creativity. I may decorate, paint, write,…. I don’t know.”
  • “I manage our home, family, serve others, spend time with Jesus, feed the animals, pull weeds, watch reruns of The Gilmore Girls, I’m just busy. I don’t know.”
  • Fourth response is much like the second.

My man (Tim) is my biggest cheerleader.  Tim encourages me to write what God puts on my heart, and share my decorating techniques with others. We’ve discussed ideas at length, and I’ve even come up with a couple of names for a couple of businesses. He believes in me, and I’m pretty sure he’s ready for me to begin what we call “my fun account”. Between him and our youngest son, Cole, my “fun-account” is blown. I…just don’t know. (Thank you, Tim! I love you!!)

When we are in seasons like this (and always) God desires for us to seek Him.

This morning I was soaking Him up with a glass of sweet tea, the birds chirping and fluttering to and from the branches, a hint of fall in the air, and my bible wide open.

He led me to some verses regarding “my purpose”, and my heart would overflow with comfort, peace, and encouragement. Here, see for yourself:

But I have put you here for a reason. I have put you here so that I could show you My power. Then people all over the world will learn about Me!Exodus 9:16

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan.Romans 8:28

So I run with purpose in every step. 1 Corinthians 9:26a

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.  Philippians 2:13

Hold firmly to the word of life; Philippians 2:16a

­Oh, joy! Yes, just as for me, our Heavenly Father has a plan for you! We are here for a reason! I do desire for His power to flow through me so that I can share His love with others! Yes, we can sit around and make glorious plans for our lives, but in the end, when we seek His will for our lives, and desire for His plans to be our focus, the purpose that God has for our lives will prevail! I am confident that all things will work for the good, because I LOVE Him with all my being. I will walk through life with a purpose. I do…I do want to please Him! It’s just…I’m in waiting…I’m trying to be still and know (I’m just ready for the reveal). I feel much like those birds that were flying from branch to branch, but they probably had a plan for their fluttering around. HaHa.God and m&ms

As I sit here typing, with my jar of M&Ms (no judging), my heart is full of hope and peace, knowing that God is in control and has fabulous plans for my life. Whether they include any of my concocted ideas or not, I am convinced that my season of “I Don’t Know” is only temporary.

He has great plans for you as well.

Be still.

Seek Him.

Rest in His presence.

Believe, love, and trust in God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Be confident that when “you don’t know”, HE DOES.

Blessings to you and yours,

Stephanie

 

fall sunsetLately, I think my energy level is Janus-faced. I’m beaming with liveliness one minute, then exhausted and needing a power-nap the next.

I believe I resolved today’s levels of bi-polar energy: When I read scripture, my heart was giddy and the feeling of conquering the world (or maybe just the day) washed over me. “Bring on the day!” Then, an hour later, my body became sluggish. Hmmmm, could it have been the excessively large chocolate chip cookie that my husband brought home the night before? Hmmmm.

Bible vs. Cookie…bible was energizing…colossal cookie, night-night.

I feel like we just had a “squirrel moment”…Random thoughts with Stephanie. LOL!

Well, can I just share with you the scripture that made me giddy today? Great! Thanks. It is one of my favorite verses, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (Click here).

What is your heart’s desire?

Praying that my children’s desire will be to put first God in all they do and to please Him is part of my daily prayer life. Yea, yea, yea, we all have passions or dreams we pursue to find happiness and fulfillment in life, BUT…when you seek God’s will for your life and really want to put a smile on God’s face, you discover that HE IS what you desire, and you’ll discover that He can and will fill you with an abundance of joy. Delight in Him.

Here, take a look at the verse that follows verse 4 (it’s a great one too): “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” Psalm 37:5. It doesn’t state to commit part-of-what-you-do to the Lord. Give Him your ALL. He is available 24/7, and desires to guide you through life. Trust Him. He’s got your back.

Don’t let these verses leave you feeling depleted. Allow them to give you energy, joy, and hope for a new day!

Tackle your day with God.

Blessings to you and yours,

Stephanie

 

wildflowers

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

When I read this morning’s scripture, I smiled, even giggled, and said, “Yes, Lord.”

I give situations to the Lord, often keep praying over-and-over for His will to be done, only to keep wondering…” Well, when will You respond, Lord?” Do you ever do that too?

A current circumstance I’m fervently praying for now almost seems like a multiple-choice test, when there are multiple responses to the question. One answer is correct, yet there are other factors which make the correct answers A, C, and E all the responses for full credit. God may have answered A and C, but it is not time yet for E to be marked. Ugh!

In the meantime, wait. Be brave. Be courageous. Live. Love. Laugh. Be an encourager. Remember…GOD’S GOT THIS.

Smile. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Many blessings to you and yours,

Stephanie

 

cotton fieldI’m not even sure what to write at this time. My thoughts, over the past couple of weeks, seem too deep and transparent for them to be penned on a page. Yet, in this time of quietness, I feel compelled to urge you to pray.

C.H. Spurgeon once said, “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fulness of prayer in it then a fine oration of great length.” The weight of my heart is heavy. It is heavy for self, family, friends, and our country.

I was grateful for Romans 8:26 last night, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” There are those times you just have to say, “God, it’s (you fill in your own blank) Yours. I don’t even know what and how to pray right now. Take this and mold it and me how You desire.”

Spurgeon also stated, “Prayer can never be in excess.”

Do you ever feel that you are conversing with God ALL DAY? I have been, do, and I’m not planning on stopping. Prayer is what often gets me through various situations in life.

When you pray for God’s will to be done, mean it. Don’t pray it, and then think, “Oh, that’s not right, I can do it better.” Believe it. Pray it. Wait.

Ugh, that’s the tough part. The waiting. Yet in the waiting, that is when we are truly relying on God. Faith in action. Lessons are being taught in those moments. Just breathe. (I actually exhaled deeply then. I think I’m reminding myself of this too.)

To quote another famous person, Mother Theresa spoke these beautiful words, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.” Listen, my friend, to God’s voice.

Here’s a prayer to get your started in your prayer life with God today:

Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

Can I get a hearty, or even a sweet sigh of, “Amen”?

Take a slow deep breath, imagine yourself at the feet of Jesus, either look directly into His eyes or bow to His feet, and repeat Psalm 25:4-5. Believe in Him. God will show, teach, and guide you all day, when you place your hope and trust in Him.

Have a beautiful day!

Many blessing to you and yours.

Much love,

Stephanie

MONDAY MORNINGOn the way to taking Cole to school, the sky was stunning, just absolutely stunning. The drive was peaceful, and then…it happened.

This past weekend, and this morning, you would think that our small town is having a massive festival or concert. The interstate, and three main roads, no…make that four, have been at a slow crawl or dead-stop the past several days. The Strawberry Festival doesn’t even cause this much traffic complications. What’s the problem? FEMA.

FEMA has set-up headquarters in Plant City for ALL of Hillsborough County assistance for the victims needing food services since the hurricane.

On social media and in conversations, you can definitely sense the frustration in people’s words.

Businesses are losing profits because people are not able to reach them. Employees are being late to work. What would normally take someone ten minutes to reach their destination, it is now taking over one hour.

This morning, I took my son to the high school and headed to our Publix grocery store around 7:30. Traffic was already being gridlocked. I heard that those needing assistance, have been in line since 3:30 this morning. Wow!!

So, I thought to myself…I have a choice to make. I can either get frustrated and judgmental and critical, OR do something. The latter was my preference.

I pondered to myself, “This could be an opportunity for churches or groups to pass out comforting notes of scripture, or mints, or water or something.” Then, I wasn’t sure of the legal ramifications to the whole concept.

My mind began to think about: how fortunate our town was through the hurricane, praying for those who were affected, grateful that our town to open up its roads to assist others, and so on.

Choosing to do something was the much better alternative for my psyche, and my blood pressure.

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. 1 Timothy 2:1

I chose to pray. Pray for the town, the people waiting in line, their families, for the local businesses who are suffering to be blessed in the coming days, for local folks to just breathe and know that we only have ONE MORE DAY of this discombobulation which is causing disruption to people’s routines. But…we need to count our blessings that we have a solid home, food, water, and good health.

Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people. Ephesians 6:18

Blessings to you and yours. And count those blessings (*wink*smile).

Love, Stephanie

 

simple things in lifeAppreciate the simplicity of life.

You know the phrase “Stop and smell the roses”. Well, the past couple of days, this has been the mentality that the Lord has pressed upon me.

A vine of chickweed (I’ll just say a precious wild daisy) captured my attention, as it was crawling its way up the fence, at the front entrance to our property. That dainty flower…made me smile.

Tim and I are in the stage of parenting adult children. At times, they make me want to “slap them silly”/”knock some sense into them”, yet I’m grateful that I have them in my life to drive me crazy. That (and they)…makes me smile.

About children, when I see our kiddos smile, and make little successes in their lives, or discover a passion for themselves, this…makes me smile.

I was recently shopping in one of our downtown stores. There was decorative tin piece that simply said, Hi. That’s the word hi with a period at the end of it. For some reason, it made me giggle, even now thinking about it does. That simply stated Hi….made me smile. (I should have purchased it.)

We had some friends over to watch the college football games yesterday. Although our Florida Gators didn’t come away with the win, having dear friends over and enjoying their fellowship…made me smile.

When our Saturday football guests departed, Tim and I sat on the swing, under the moon, with the beginning of a fall temperature lingering in the air, we (as we often do) chatted about life and danced under the night lights. This…made me smile.

As the sun was greeting me this morning, it had cast a glorious salmon color throughout the atmosphere. This…made me smile.

With so much busyness, chaos, and tribulations cowering over our lives, I implore you to:

  • “Stop and smell the roses”.
  • Find joy in the simple gestures in life.
  • Count your blessings.
  • Give a smile to someone.

And now, I must go indulge myself in a slice of chocolate cake for breakfast. Yes…that makes me smile.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  Psalm 103:2

Have a beautiful and peaceful day.

Many blessings to you and yours, Stephanie

me and mike

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”

Proverbs 27:2 was one of my scripture reads this morning. As I was praying for the Lord to speak to me and through me, this verse and a name popped into my mind.

Mike Parker. That is the name that came to mind while I was praying.

So, let me tell you a little bit about Mike Parker.

Mike, and his twin brother Kevin, were born with obstacles. On August 5, 1960, in Plant City, Florida, these twin boys entered the world six weeks earlier than their due date. Kevin weighed 3 pounds and 5 ounces, and was 16” long, and Mike weighed 2 pounds and 13 ½ ounces, and was 15 ½” long. I had baby dolls larger than they were when they were born.

They're not so mini anymore. LOL!!!

They’re not so mini anymore. LOL!!!

These two miniature babies, remained in the hospital for five and a half weeks. While they were gaining strength, and growing in the hospital, there was something else gaining strength and growing. A Tropical Wave, off the coast of Africa, was noticed on August 29th, 1960. This system rapidly intensified as it moved over the Atlantic. Hurricane Donna devastated the US and British Virgin Islands, The southeastern portion of the Bahaman islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida. The eye of Hurricane Donna graced its presence over the hometown of these twin boys. Remember…this was in 1960, in a small town, technology nowhere near the capabilities of today, and these precious boys continued to thrive, and survive.

Even though Mike had a complicated start to life, God wasn’t finished with him.

Through his adolescence, Mike grew to be a young man who loved sports, the outdoors, and was greatly involved in The Future Farmers of America. Through his affiliation with the FFA, Mike refined his skills as a public speaker. This is a talent that Mike has utilized throughout his life as a motivator, teacher, administrator, Sunday School teacher, and guest preacher.

Much like God wasn’t finished with Mike in those first weeks of his life, I believe God isn’t finished with him yet, still.

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

Mike is a humble man who isn’t about to praise himself, because he would much rather praise His Savior, so…I’ll praise him instead.

I may not be an outsider to Michael Louis Parker, he is my brother.

Mike is not only my brother, but he is one of the most compassionate, straight-forward, fun-loving, and godly men I know.

So, why am I praising him now? I am so stinkin’ proud of my brother, turned author. He has beautifully written a book titled, My Emmaus: God is Faithful 24/7. In this book, Mike has been transparent in his stories of how God has intervened in his life. “Fasting for children, the American adventure of a Muslim teenager, intercession experiences, crazy spiritual warfare, and finding a godly wife are just a sampling of what awaits you.”

Weaved throughout the stories is the importance of praying AND fasting. My husband jokes (well, probably serious) that I couldn’t last a day of fasting. But if I (we) get the results Mike gets in the end, fasting sounds like it should be added to my prayer life.

Do you need a Christmas or birthday gift, stocking stuffer, a good read, an encouragement in life, or have your eyes opened to a Christ-like-life? Please do yourself a favor and purchase My Emmaus.

Do your church, youth group, small group, or organization an indulgence, and contact Mike to speak to your group! God gave him the talent to entertain through his gift of public speaking, book him now!

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

I love you, Mike! Thank you for being an inspiration to me!!

Blessings to all.

Love to you and yours, Stephanie

mike and jan

Mike and my beautiful sister-in-love, Jan.

USA Flag 1992Last week Tim and I attended a Zac Brown Band concert. Our seats were in the first two seats beside the aisle. Mid-way into the concert, we noticed the paramedics rushing a young girl down the aisle (late teens or early twenties…and appeared to be highly intoxicated), on a gurney. Her friend was hastily following her, and with panic in her voice, you could hear the friend saying to the young girl, with her eyes rolling into the back of her head, “Look at me! Stay with me!”

My heart ached, as I told Tim, “I couldn’t imagine being the parent of that girl, and receiving a phone call that my child is in the hospital due to over-consuming alcohol at a concert.”

I’ve always been the parent who reminds my children that we are not promised tomorrow. Morbid? Maybe, but truth.

This morning, I turned on the news and was sickened by what I heard and the footage I observed.

At that time, a gun-man had killed over forty people, and over 200 were injured. (At the time of me typing this, there are now over 55 dead, and over 500 injured.) These folks were attending an outdoor music concert, The Route 91 Harvest Festival. What should have been the ending of a three-day event, filled with fun and songs still billowing through one’s mind in the end of it all, was now filled with terror of gunshots and a fatal scene forever engrained in their minds.

Again, I just couldn’t imagine being the one receiving a call of my loved one being injured or killed due to the evilness and cowardness of someone.

I went into my eldest son’s room to tell of the news (which he was already informed of), and asked if he had any friends at the concert. He, thankfully, responded by shaking his head no.

With our country drawing together directly after three major hurricanes, and other natural disasters around our world, we are being tested.

I was proud of my President when he spoke to our country, shortly after this devastation. He said many encouraging words and empathetically communicated to our nation.

President Trump quoted Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

The POTUS urged us to call upon the bonds between us: faith, family, and our shared values. He called upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.

President Trump mentioned, amongst many other heartfelt words, that he is praying for the nation to find unity and peace.

I sent a text to all three of mine and Tim’s children this morning which read, “In view of this morning’s tragedy, I want you three to know that I love you so very much. I’m so proud of each of you! You are a blessing to me and dad. We are not promised tomorrow. Live each day full of love and laughter. Put God first in all you do. Tell and show those you love that you do love them. Count your blessings. Serve others. Be a person of integrity. Love, love, love you!!!”

Can we please all put political differences aside, and become a unified nation?

Can we please put pride aside, and become prayerful?

Can we please put selfishness aside, and become serving?

Can we please put hatred aside, and become helpful?

Can we please put all hostility aside, and become harmonious?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are instructed to “Pray continually”. When I dropped my youngest son off at golf this afternoon, I overheard Sarah Huckabee, on my XM radio station, stating that the President, Vice President, and their spouses were leading a moment of silence in sixteen minutes. I look at my clock, and noted that 2:45pm would be the designated time. I quickly ran into the Publix grocery store to grab dinner ingredients, and informed the cashier that there was going to be a nationwide moment of silence at 2:45.

As I rushed back to my car and started driving home, an announcement came across the air waves that the moment of silence is going to now take place. The time was 2:40pm. I pulled my car over to the side of the road, and tearfully prayed for our nation, the families, and the gunman’s’ family as well. The radio station was honoring that moment of stillness too.

The point I’m trying to make regarding the times is…it doesn’t matter if you partook in a prayer at 2:45PM, 2:40PM, or 11:00PM, just pray.

I want to encourage you all to pray for the first responders (who did such a phenomenal job responding during this catastrophic event), the medical personal who have dealt with and are continuing to work to save lives, for the families and friends of loved ones now deceased or injured, for the family of the gunman who were in utter disbelief, for our nation, The President, and yourself too.

#GodBlessAmerica #PrayingForVegas #AmericaStrong #PrayingForOurNation

Blessings to you all, Stephanie

“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 7:14

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He choose for His inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12