Daily Walking with God

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Plant City's First Baptist Church

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Devotions

God teaches me many life lessons in every day situations. When He puts something on my heart, I’ll create a devotion about it. Enjoy.

mercyDear thirty-years-plus-younger-me,

May 15th is a day that I will never forget. No, it’s not my birthday, nor my anniversary, but the day another day that is imbedded in my mind.

I was considered a “good girl”. I went to church and knew what the bible told me about sexuality.

When I met John, I was planning on staying true to my “church-girl” knowledge. We began dating and a few months later I felt as if I was “in love”.  How could I not?  He was tall, athletic, and handsome! I thought that having sex was the next step. In some ways I felt like that was how I was to keep him and our relationship.

Prom night of my senior year was just around the corner. I’d seen how prom night was glamourized in the movies. I’d heard how couples go away with a group of friends and have a fun night away after prom. In just a few months my boyfriend and I were going to be going to different colleges, and I didn’t want him to forget about me. I “loved” him, and I he said he loved me too. The time to demonstrate my love for him seemed perfect.

May 15th came and went, and so did my physical purity. I lost my virginity. Me remembering the exact date…that right there should give you some indication of the impact it makes on one’s life.

Now that I look back I see my weakness. At the time, I did not realize the emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual bond it created and caused.

When he went away to a separate college than me, he took a part of me with him. We were apart from each other in distance, but we were also apart in our relationship. Our relationship had dwindled. We would try to rekindle our love each time we saw each other over the next few months, but in the end it didn’t work out for us to be together.

The emotional bonds caused turmoil for me for the next few years in my life. Breaking up and getting back together with a guy that was not my life partner nor soulmate. I desperately tried to hold on to what I had already lost. But since I had already lost my virginity, it was not a “big deal” to have sex with other boyfriends. This led me to three additional empty relationships.

Then something changed…I did not know it at the time but God was working in my life. I met a young man. We began dating and, yes, we had sex. It was not an ideal location, time, and space (in my college apartment). What I didn’t realize until much later was that he was a virgin. When he told me that that was his first time, it changed everything. I thought to myself, “Was I really THAT girl? Was I that causal and callous regarding sex and my body?”

Wow…only reflecting now, almost thirty years later, do I come to terms with the fact that by my choice of having sex, I robbed him, my future husband, of the pure wife he had always dreamed of. How selfish of me!

You see, as a teen, life was all about me. Through the years I have learned to be less selfish, to put others and their needs before mine, and more importantly to put God before anyone or anything else.

I am grateful that my God and my husband are forgiving and show mercy. If I could do it all over again, I would make a different choice…I would WAIT.

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God is rich in mercy, and He loved us very much. We were spiritually dead because of all we had done against Him. But He gave us new life together with Christ. (You have been saved by God’s grace.)”

People will say they love you, but God loves you so much more! I am grateful for the rich mercy He has shown me.

Sex is a strong bond physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally that is meant to be between a husband and a wife.

Please take my advice and save yourself for the one you marry, not only for you, but for them too.

Is that hard? Definitely!

Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

You can do it! You are a strong and beautiful young girl. Hold on to that “church girl” self and believe that God’s word is true. Don’t get caught up in the glamorization of prom night, college parties, or any other scene that you feel temptation is too strong. You are stronger!

Save yourself from the mental, physical, and psychological chaos having sex with someone other than your spouse brings.

Lovingly,

Yourself years later

 

Throughout the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing real stories from real people who have a real message they want to share with you.  Names have either been omitted or changed to protect their privacy.

I pray that these testimonies will touch your heart.

I thank each and every one of you who have shared your hearts.  I love and appreciate you and your honesty, and  am so grateful for the transparency that each of you presented.

Today’s testimony comes from a young lady who is still in college.

purity 1

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

My whole life my ultimate goal was to stay a virgin until my wedding night. Girls who I went to high school with would constantly ask me why I was waiting, and guys would pressure me to give in to the temptation. I knew that staying pure was something that was rare, but I was willing to wait for my husband and I whole heartedly wanted to honor God.

My freshman year in college I was told would be the best year of your life. I would make new friends, have fun, and it was a time to grow up.

The “college life” got the best of me and I started falling away from the church and from God. I started partying and tried so hard to be accepted by the cool, older college kids. I was trying to find my identity in that.

I lost my virginity during that time and it was while I was under the influence of alcohol. The night it happened after I sobered up, I realized what I had done and I felt completely AWFUL.

Something that I had waited for my entire life was gone in a split second.

In that moment I thought that I would never get forgiveness from God.

I went through a really rough 6 months after that. I fell deeper into the sin. I thought, “Well I’ve already done it now so there is no going back”, and I was delighting in the guilty pleasures. Fortunately I’ve only slept with one guy (he was my boyfriend at the time), but every time we had sex I had been drinking. Deep down I knew it was still wrong but I continued to do it, and when I drank I didn’t have the remorse until afterwards. The worst part about it was I didn’t love him. When I had sex with him the first time we were only dating 3 weeks. Then I felt like we had to keep dating because I had sex with him and I couldn’t get out of it. Eventually I hit rock bottom and I realized that God was trying to reveal Himself to me the whole time.

I realized that what I was taught as a child was true. God is a FORGIVING God and He LOVES me no matter what I did. He just wants me to strive to live a life that brings glory to His name.

In that moment I asked for forgiveness and from that day forward I have strived to stay pure. Although I have forgiveness from God, I still have that baggage and it will be with me for the rest of my life.

Looking back, I was filling a void in my life. I was yearning for acceptance from others and wanting to fit in. Actually, there was a guy who I was dating in high school who broke up with me because he said I was too good of a girl and he was a bad guy and he just couldn’t date me anymore because I didn’t want to have sex with him. I think that had a lot to do with the void that was missing because I wanted to just be accepted and wanted. Having a relationship was really important to me (ugh so dumb), but I think I was just tired of people judging me in a way because I was such a good kid. So that’s where I was weak and fell into the temptation.

Now, I desire to fill any voids with Jesus Christ. HE makes me whole again!

Dating has become harder for me because I am searching for a man after Gods own heart, and more times than not guys who love the Lord as much as I do are still virgins. For me it’s a struggle to find someone who will accept that baggage and want to be with someone who isn’t a virgin.

With that being said, I KNOW the Lord has someone amazing planned for me and I don’t let my past mistakes define who I am or let it shape my identity in God.

My advice to people who aren’t married and still virgins: WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. It will be worth it in the end. A quick moment of “pleasure” isn’t worth the lifetime of guilt, hurt, and shame. Your virginity is one of the best presents you can give your spouse. Resist the temptation and the Lord will reward you 10x over.

My advice for people who aren’t married and aren’t virgins: Let go and LET GOD. Give the hurt, shame, and guilt to the Lord and let him wrap you in His arms and hold you close. Strive to also resist the temptation from here on out. There is such thing as being pure and not being a virgin. You physically are not a virgin, yes, but SPIRITUALLY? YES 1000X YES. Once you have asked for forgiveness, you have been made new in HIS eyes. You are a virgin in HIS eyes. Sure, this might not clear your memory of the past things you have done, but it does clear your future up with the one who truly matters, and that is GOD. He will bless you for putting your faith in Him and allowing him to take control of the situation.

 

A Colorado sky, from my friend Merrie.

A Colorado sky, from my friend Merrie.

Well, I guess the time has come to begin the series.

A couple of months ago I felt God nudging me to journal about purity, specifically virginity. I was like, “Seriously?” And God was like, “Yep.”

I have been so excited, humbled, and so many other emotions throughout this experience by the many letters, texts, messages, and conversations I’ve received and had with you all.

I wasn’t sure how God was going to lay it all out, but now I see. The responses have come from high school and college age students, anonymous and not, single, married, divorced, very few virgins, and countless who lost their virginity before marriage. Women were the ones who responded the most, with only a handful of men. The way things seem to be flowing, it’s still not too late to send me your thoughts. I would LOVE to hear more stories so this could be as real of a testimony as one can get without revealing any names. (Totally confidentiality.)

So, here’s the plan (at least that’s the other nudge I’m getting from God right now): There will be a series of “Letters to my younger self”. The responses were so overwhelming and diverse, one journal entry wasn’t going to cut it. Even though the ages and stories were diverse, there was a common thread that appeared to be weaved through them all.

This morning three various places in scripture were laid before me:

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Luke 1:26-28

“Remember what happened long ago. Remember, I am God and there is no other God. There is no other like Me.” Isaiah 46:9

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

When I read these, it was as if the Lord said, “Now is the time.”

So I hope that over the next couple of weeks that you will stay tuned, share, continue to send me your stories, and pray. Two things that this series has, and desiring continuation of, is being bathed in prayer and being transparent.

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

 

 

“Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.  May your glory shine over all the earth.” Psalm 108:5

“A little dab will do ya.”

Have you ever heard of this slogan from the 1950-60s for a hair product for men?  Oh my!  When I read Psalm 108:5 I thought to myself, “Yes, shine, Lord, ALL over the earth, not just a dab here and there.” And then that catchy slogan jingle popped into my head. (Am I aging myself? Haha.  Where did that jingle come from?)

Do you think that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s presence is evident in our world ALL over or just a dab here or there?  I’m interested in knowing your thoughts on this. I have several thoughts running through my head, but I’d like to hear yours first. 

(If you click here  you’ll see one of the many old commercials with the jingle from above.  Be warned…this old commercial is actually tame, but I played through a bunch of them and was amazed at how risqué they were for that day and age on television. I was cracking up as well. “A little dab will do ya.”)

Thoughts and journaling to be continued later today…(Please share with me your responses.)

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

My momma! <3

Today is the day we celebrate moms.  I already come to terms in my mind that when we give flowers to moms in the church service, that this was the first time I didn’t have ANY of my moms to give a flower and a hug to. 

Tim’s mom is celebrating this day in heaven for the first time.  (Wow!  I can just imagine how those mommas are being treated today.) My mom is traveling on the other side of the country.  And my god-mother (aunt Tomi) has been at home sick for a while.

I was doing just fine with it all until…the children’s choir sang a Mother’s Day song and the verse kept repeating “I’m watching you.”  I heard the precious children singing, but I had to focus on something totally different.  Yes, Jany was watching over us.  I could sense it, but I sure didn’t want to be reminded of it at that point.  Then, when it was time for the flowers to be distributed, my father-in-law was one of the deacons who were giving them out to the moms at church.

He grabbed his bundle of flowers, and came straight to me first with a PINK carnation.  Our eyes met, exchanged gracious smiles, and I could tell this was a hard day for him as well.  I didn’t notice the color at first (Jany’s favorite) until Wayne had walked away.  I saw the pink flower and sighed.  Finally, the pastor stood there and acknowledge how for many folks that this day was difficult for many reasons.  The first reason he said was “because this may be the first Mother’s Day without your mom”. 

Between those three instances, I had to try (unsuccessfully) hold back the tears, but more than me, my thoughts and eyes turned to my husband.

I can’t imagine what Tim was going through today.

Mrs. Jany <3

My mind also turned to:

  • My sister-in-law, Jan, who is by her mom’s side as she is about to go meet Jesus.
  • Mrs. Gibbs who is spending her Mother’s Day probably going to spend a good part of her special recognition day at the hospital while her son, Doug, is battling with his health.  (BTW, improvements are being made daily.  Thank you for your prayers.)
  • Ms. Susan, a dear friend’s mom who has just gone through the beginning process of aiding her eldest son through surgery after having part of his body burned in a fire, and now her health isn’t doing well.
  • As I watched the children’s choir sing, my eyes connected with Natalie’s (the precious girl is full of energy, and is beating brain cancer).  I thought about the struggles her mom has been going through over the past year.
  • How can my thoughts not turn to my awesome momma?!  While in church I received a text message from her informing me that she has somehow twisted or hurt her leg and it hurts too bad to walk.  I wish I could help her right now.  Hopefully, she is getting some good quality time with her step-son and daughter-in-law.  (Whom is expecting and due in October. Yeah!)

Though these thoughts seem to be heavy, I can see STRENGTH, DETERMINATION, and LOVE in each of those mentioned.

On a happy note:

Welcome home, Liv! Way to surprise us ALL!

 

  • I found out this week that one of my dearest friends’ son and wife, Lane and Kelly, are expecting their first child in November.  They are going to be such wonderful godly parents.  A mom-to-be! Joy! Glory! 
  • We had two of our favorite families over for a low-country-boil to celebrate one’s birthday, two graduates, and just because.  The birthday girl’s (Theresa) daughter was expected to arrive home from the University of Georgia on Tuesday.  But to much to our delight, Olivia surprised her parents and arrived early!  Our gathering to celebrate T:’s birthday and Hunter and Maddie’s graduation from high school also became a homecoming surprise. Proud mommas for many reasons. Delight! Precious! 
  • One of the families over for dinner was the Shouse crew. They have two foster children besides their own three children.  I am so stinkin’ proud of them!  I hope that their children see what a beautiful godly, patient, and loving parent example they have in their momma, Kim.  Dedication!  Love!

    Kim, you're doing a beautiful thing!

    So yes, this day can be (and is) a mixture of emotions, but God is revealing Himself through it all.

His unfailing love, strength, and compassion are ever so prevalent in each of the scenarios above.

I am so proud to be a mother of my own three children; Hunter, Holly, and Cole.  I have those who call me “momma Shuff” and know that I am there for them, and I take that as a great compliment to our relationships. 

I had such powerful, godly examples of mothers in my life.  From my great-grandma Hunter and great-grandma Mamie, granny West, grandma Parker, my momma (Judy), and mother-in-law Jany. 

Praise God for string Christian women.

I love my family! Thank You, God.

This day has ended well.  For the past several years, on Mother’s Day, we go to the boat and beach.  This day was no different.  The sun shone brightly, the breeze blew comfortably, and my babies were all with me. 

Tim made it with a great display of strength and faith.  He knows his momma is watching over him, and I’m sure she’s looking down with a smile on her face.

Momma, thanks for living Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way (s)he should go, And when (s)he is old (s)he will not depart from it.”  You trained me well. 

I cling to Jesus!

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

 

My children teach me so much! I love them!

Seriously?  How can we go through this much laundry in just a few days?

If you’re like me, laundry is not one of your favorite chores.  I’ll wash and dry all day, but folding and putting away? Ugh!  That’s what children are for, right? (Just Kidding, no not really.) 

Well, this morning was a busy time in the laundry room. Before Holly and I went on a few errands, this is what our pool table looked like. ——->>>

Yep, there is a pool table under that mound of clean clothes.

I dropped her off at the house, ran a few more errands, and when I returned…Wala!  A game of pool anyone?

Now a couple of clean loads had already accumulated on the table prior to this morning’s wash.  They had actually been waiting to be folded for about two days. But all in all, Holly had about five loads to fold.  (I told you I wasn’t joking about “that’s what children are for”.)  When I dropped her off, she only had about an hour before some friends were going to pick her up for an afternoon of fun.  I told her that those clothes need to get done before five o’clock. 

I totally wasn’t expecting to return home and have it all done.  Not that she couldn’t get it done, but I just thought she’d do some now and some later.

Poor socks, get left behind every time.

I was impressed.  Holly attacked that mountain of clothes like no bodies’ business.

 

Now, the socks…that’s another story.

Let’s see, how does this relate to our walk with Christ?

  People have a tendency to accumulate “stuff” in their lives.  Whether that “stuff” is bad habits, bad friends, pride, selfishness, or what-have-you, “stuff” can keep us from seeing our full potential in Christ.  Once the pool table was cleared of “stuff”, you could see the real reason for its existence.

You have so much potential and reason for existence within you! 

Ephesians 3:20 says, “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.  Oh my, does He have plans for you!  Get your “stuff” out of the way and let God get busy.

BTW, I texted Holly and said, “Thanks for doing the laundry.  You did it so fast, I think your room is next…before we have friends arrive at 5:30.”  She replied, “Haha funny!”

Maybe I need to remind her of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Haha, TRUE.

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

Happy Early Mother’s Day to me! 

Tim came home from a fishing trip to the Bahamas this week.  While he was gone I thought about sending him a text to request some Bimini bread.  This bread is has a hint of sweetness to it. My mouth was watering just thinking about it.  But, I didn’t.  I knew he wasn’t on the island of Bimini, so I just didn’t bother.

Well, my husband knows me all too well!  When he returned he had purchased me a load of this bread that I so desired, without me even saying anything to him.  (I love my man!) 

The bible verse, Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! came to my mind. 

So the next morning, I began to prepare my French toast breakfast with my scrumptious Bimini bread.  I had a little pep in my step due to the excitement growing inside of me.  I know, you’re thinking that I’m crazy talking about food this way.  Well, yes.  I am a little crazy for some French toast. (Enjoy these devotionals as well.)

Taste and see?  Yes I did!  And I enjoyed every bite of it.

This is how we should approach God’s word, with great anticipation. 

Getting in to the scriptures should be like breakfast for us.  Read even just one verse in the morning to get you going.  It will make a difference in your day.

I like how The Message translation simply reads, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see how good God is.  Blessed are you who run to him.

Are your senses working?  Are you running?  Taste…see…run to Jesus every day.

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

Y’all, y’all, and y’all!!! (I think that about covers everyone.)  Listen up! There are some critical issues going on in our children’s lives.   And your prayers are needed.

Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching reading, writing, and math.  Oh no.  My job goes way beyond just teaching math. 

In my classroom I’m a threat to throw out some “life lessons” to help my students relate math to everyday life, or sometimes just when the need arises according to issues at school. 

Recently I was teaching about integers (negative and positive numbers).  I always enjoy this topic because I get to relate it to the positives and negatives of life.  (Two entries from last May while teaching on this same subject)

For example, when introducing the coordinate plane, in order to help the students remember the positives and negative on the x and y axis, I hit these bullet points (with a little more elaboration of course):

  • X-axis:
    • When you are heading in the “right direction” in life that is a positive thing.
    • If you are choosing to go the opposite way of “doing the right thing” (left), you are making a negative choice.
  • Y-axis:
    • You want to surround yourself with people who lift you “up” and are positive influences on you.
    • If you surround yourself with people who bring you “down”, those folks are negative influences I your life.

Get it!  We all need to be reminded of those hints as well, no matter your age.

Well, this year I wanted/needed to take it a step further.  We teachers discuss about how we have never noticed so many sixth graders who skip school, get drunk, smoke weed, and cut themselves.  Yes, cutting is a huge problem!  So, when I had finished teaching how to add and subtract integers, I decided to take a break and talk about “The Integers of Life”.  Each class discussed out loud some of the positives of friends, school, and family.  I mentioned how heartbreaking it is to see so many young people making negative choices in their lives, and gave some examples.  Then I gave ample time for the kids to express themselves by writing about the positives and negatives in their lives according the headings of: friends, family, school, and self.  The students didn’t even have to write their name on their paper if it would help them to feel free to express themselves honestly.  Some students said they wanted to write their name on their paper so I could talk to them later.  And then…there were those kids who I WISH I would have known who they were.  My heart ached!

Wow!  Wow!  I was ready for some good reading, but this whole lesson…well, let’s just say that it has been and is life changing and hasn’t ended yet.  This will be an ongoing lesson from what I can see. (And all for the good!  Praise Jesus!)

If you were standing outside of my classroom last week, you would have seen students walking out crying and hugging each other.  I had positioned myself in the back of the room in case anyone needed to talk privately.  Kids would approach me and inform me of others who were making negative choices at school. (Yes, names were written down, and the matters are being looked into. The students knew I was writing names and were glad because they are tired of seeing their friends do these things.) Other students would walk up to me with tears streaming down their faces wanting me to hold them while they poured out their hearts.  Some even wanted me to pray with them. 

When I got a chance to sit down and read their papers, I needed a box of tissues.  The pressures that these young people have!  In every class period there was someone who either had a parent in jail, a parent had died, or they knew of friends doing self-harm.

After reading a few, I went to my principal to inform her of my day’s lesson just in case she received any phone calls from parents, and to let her know that I was going to be giving her a few names.  (I thank God for my boss, Susan Sullivan.  She is a great Christian principal!)

The next day, many children returned their “The Integers of Life” paper.  Double-sided and tear stained papers.  One girl turned in her paper the first thing in the morning, and I didn’t even have her in my class until the last period of the day.  When she walked up she had a pleasant smile on her face.  Smiling for her wasn’t uncommon, but her smile is usually a little more devious.  This smile was a smile of relief.  Half way through the day she said, “Mrs. Shuff, did you read my paper?  Did I make you cry?”  She wanted to feel validated!

Below are a few of the highlights from the students’ negative side.  The list is lengthy, and there are so many more comments and details I could write, but you’ll get the picture:

  • My parents don’t trust me.
  • Friends are cutting themselves.
  • I do self-harm.
  • I get bullied a lot.
  • The bullying gets to me and I start to believe it.
  • I hate my step-dad.
  • Mom and dad don’t come home until very late and I only eat ice cubes.
  • I think I’m fat and suck at everything.
  • Some friends are fake.
  • My family argues a lot.
  • People make fun of the way I look.
  • My dad died.
  • My dad used to cheat on my mom and hit her.
  • My dad does drugs. Drinks, smokes, and tries to ruin my life.
  • I have a hard time trusting others.
  • I’m shy.  I’m tall.  I have a skin disease and people make fun of me.
  • A friend drinks alcohol.
  • A friend came to school drunk.
  • My parent(s) is (are) in jail.
  • I’ve thought about cutting myself.
  •  Get pressured into doing things that I don’t want to do.
  • I get pushed around and picked on.
  • Kids bring weed to school.
  • My dad doesn’t listen to me.
  • My family doesn’t have money and we struggle paying the bills.
  • Friends ignore me.
  • I want to prove my dad wrong.  He says things like: “You are never going to reach college.  You are never going to be what you want to be.  You need me to have even gotten this far.  You are not smart enough”
  • My dad has turned his back on me.
  • I barely get anything to eat.
  • I wish I was never born.
  • I hate my life.
  • Me and my mom don’t like each other.  We fight and argue all the time.
  • I feel like no one cares about or loves me.
  • I think about if I should even be on this earth.
  • I have no one to talk to.
  • My dad is always with his friends.
  • Friends do bad things to their bodies.
  • My parents are divorced.
  • Dad gets drunk, mom and dad argue, and dad leaves and doesn’t return until the next day.
  • People curse.
  • People call me gay and I’m not.
  • My parents argue a lot and the intensity is increasing.
  • I’m fat.
  • My brother died.
  • My pet died.
  • I wonder if I were to run away would my family miss me.
  • My sister tried to kill herself.
  • My sixteen year old sister has ran away four times, and is now gone again.  It’s been three days.
  • I hit myself or hit my head against a wall.
  • Some friends have dirty minds.
  • Somebody stole my shoes.
  • People judge others.
  • Cyber-bullying.
  • My dad gets out of jail next year. (Yes, this was written in the negative section.)

What has happened?  I remember when I was in the sixth grade, the only thing we did was have recess, play basketball, learn a little math, and one of my teachers (I think she was supposed to be teaching me Language Arts) would shuffle herself out the door, with her cane sometimes in one hand and a cig wrapped in tissue in the other, and excuse herself for a minute.  She went out to take a smoke. Hahaha.  I’ll never forget that!

Many folks in our society are so wrapped up in themselves!  They worry about their own outward appearance and often neglect the inward self that needs some Jesus. (Okay, a lot of Jesus!) People are relieving their stresses in a negative way (getting drunk, hitting spouses, children, walls, etc., yelling at the kids, ignoring the family all together, etc.), instead of turning to God and making their home a safe haven.

I was talking to a friend who is a Christian counselor.  She told me to go to http://www.focusonthefamily.com/ and read about cutting.  She mentioned how people cut (or you can apply other self-harm issues here) to take away the pain they have in their heart.  I encourage you to visit that site if your need assistance. Seek out Christian counseling.

This past Sunday, I took my papers to my Sunday school class.  It tied in (somewhat) to the topic for that day.  I told my 9th grade girls (who probably know many friends who are going through these same struggles, if not themselves) about the life lesson taught and asked them to pray over these papers.  We divided ourselves in two groups and with papers in hand, prayed for my students. One of my faithful prayer girls mentioned in her prayer how we are often ignorant to the world’s problems right around us because we are in our own comfy world (something to that affect).  So true!

As I sat down today to write this journal entry, I picked up the stack of papers to refresh my memory.  There were a couple of papers that I hadn’t read yet because they turned it in late in the day on Friday.  So I read those first.  My heart ached when one student wrote, “I’m afraid to tell my parents things, but I feel safe with you.  I love you, Mrs. Shuff.  You are the best!”  *sniff, sniff, tissues please*

In Isaiah 40:30-13  we read, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Our young are tired and weary!  Will you please join me in praying for our youth?  I pray that we all will have a positive influence on those around us, and that we will surround ourselves with positive and godly people who will lift us up.  I pray that we will put our hope in the Lord.  He will renew our strength! 

Now, there were quite a few positives written by the students.  My heart was smiling!  But this entry was intended to make you aware of the stresses in our youth’s lives (11-12 year olds, for goodness sake!).

If you are a negative person yourself, please change!  If you surround yourself with negative people and choose to not do the “right” things in life, please change!  Let the change begin within ourselves.  May the new godly self flow out into the lives of others.

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

Friday morning I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  (Southern expression)  I prayed my morning prayer, and then just “got busy doing ‘stuff’”.

I had just said out loud (Yes, I talk to God out loud just casually.), “LORD, slow me down”, when I received a text.  My precious friend/neighbor, Donna, took a picture of her morning devotional book (I have the same one from my dear friend, Susan, sitting on my desk at school.) and sent it my way. How did she know I needed that text? Oh, yea, that’s how God works. (He’s so cool!)

The title was “Living in Dependence on Me”.  Boy, did I need that text (the little message from God via my morning angel).  I have to rely on Him.  How about you?

When you need a little pick me up from God, look up and then look around.  I bet He’s sending you a little message somehow to know that He’s there for you.

This morning I opened my Facebook and saw that my old friend had posted a video.  He is now Pastor Jeff in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is starting to post brief videos of prayers and encouraging words. Today’s message was about struggles and how to handle them.  I know I have my struggles and many friends are going through them right now.  God’s word, via Jeff, was needed.  (Thanks again, God.)

And I have one more illustration of how God is everywhere if we just look for Him.  Another lovely friend, Chris, posted on her social media wall today Jeremiah 9:24, “But those who wish to boastshould boast in this alone:that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!”  That’s it!  GOD HAS SPOKEN.

Oh, brother and sister, listen to God speak.  He does.

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

Last night my family attended Holly’s induction ceremony to The National Honor Society.  When I returned home, and even waking up to the thought this morning, the word “honor” kept being on the forefront of my mind. Since my feet hit the ground today I’ve been singing in my head Jeremy Camp’s song “Overcome”.  I kept repeating the words, “Savior, worthy of honor and glory”.

First of all, I must say congratulations to Holly and all inductees in your accomplishments.  Woohoo!

In last night’s ceremony a guest speaker spoke words on honor and told relevant and memorable stories.  The inductees were called on the stage to receive their certificates. Candles were lit by all 150+ students, as they surrounded the audience. Parents, friends, and family all took pictures of their “honored” person(s).  It was a moment in time when the students should have, and hopefully did, feel honored.

The word honor can be used as a noun or a verb.  As a noun it means high respect; esteem, and a privilege.  As a verb the definition is to regard with great respect, and fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement).

I searched the web for bible verses on this topic. I landed upon a site that answered the question, “What does the bible say about honor?” (See Got Questions.) I don’t know about you, but the first scripture that popped into my mind was Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents the way the Lord wants, because this is the right thing to do. The command says, “You must respect your father and mother. This is the first command that has a promise with it. And this is the promise: “Then all will go well with you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Well, we “children of God”, need to make sure that we “honor/verb” God (“honor/noun”) the way He should be honored.

Proverbs 3:9 tells us to honor God with our wealth.

1 Corinthians 6:20 instructs us to honor God with our bodies.

1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us to honor God with whatever we eat, drink, do, and EVERYTHING honor God.

1 Samuel 2:30 tells us that if we honor God He will honor us.

It appears to me that we need to pay tribute to our Heavenly Father with, in, and through everything we are and have.

Days later….I started this post on Wednesday morning, and just now finished it.  So I have to brag on not only Holly and her “honor”, but Hunter as well.  Thursday evening he received his graduation tassels for being an “honor” grad.  Woohoo! 

“Thank You, God, for gorgeous and intelligent children.  I pray that they will always turn to You and put You first in their lives.  May You receive ALL the honor and glory.  Amen”!

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