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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Psalm 23

A few years ago, I came across Sylvia Gunter's ministry.  She even sent me some of the ministry's material at no cost, which I thought was very generous.  Below you will find a guide to praying through Psalm 23 with added scriptures to consider.  I put this together for my ladies Sunday School class for this Sunday and thought I would share it here on the blog for you.  This is a compilation of some things from Ms Gunter's material.  Hope you are blessed by it as I was.

Psalm 23


1The LORD is my shepherd
Jehovah-Rohi:  God my Shepherd
John 10:11
The Lord of the universe knows you personally!  Thank your Shepherd that He knows you by name and wants to communicate with you.
Pray for someone who is discouraged and thinks God has forgotten them.
I shall not want.
Jehovah-Jireh:  The Lord my Provider
Matt. 6:11
Name specific needs for which you are trusting Him.  Thank Him for providing ALL your needs beginning with redemption.  Ask Him to carry all your worries, burdens, and cares.
Pray for those you know with financial needs and for those who are discontent with what they have.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth   me beside the still waters.
Jehovah-Shalom:  God my Peace
Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 26:3
Thank Jesus your Peace for His attention to the details of your life.  Tell Him you want to see Him more clearly in your “dailies”.
Ask God how to pray for someone you know who is in a “hard” place.  Pray for Him to calm all fear, doubt, worry, inadequacy, and anxiety with the Prince of Peace in their heart.
3He restoreth my soul
Jehovah-Rapha:  The Lord my Healer
Psalm 103:2-5 and Heb. 4:15
Think about where you need the healing and restoration of Jesus the Healer.  Because Jesus your Healer was fully God and fully man, He understands everything you have experienced.
Pray for someone you know who needs to be healed physically, mentally, emotionally or otherwise.
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
Jehovah-Tsidkenu:  The Lord my Righteousness
Jeremiah 23:6 and 1 Cor.1:30
Pray for God’s guidance as you follow Him as Lord.  Thank Him that you are accepted in Christ Jesus and completely forgiven.
Jesus declares us to be righteous, not for what we have done, but because of His perfect righteousness.  Pray for salvation for somebody who has not received Jesus as God’s perfect sacrifice for their sin.
for his name's sake.
Prov. 18:10 and Isaiah 26:8
God’s name is Holy.  Pray that you will not dishonor His name. 
Pray that someone away from God will desire to bring glory and honor to His name.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me
Jehovah-Shammah:  God who is there.
Matt. 28:19-20 and Heb.13:5-6
Thank God for His presence that is always with us and dispels fears and unbelief.
Ask God to reveal Himself to your family and friends in powerful and new ways.
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Heb. 12:5-7
Thank God for His loving authority in your life to discipline, correct and give you the security of loving limits.  You can depend on the rod of His protection and the staff of His correction and rescue.
Isaiah 49:13 and Isaiah 52:9
The Lord’s comfort is as warm and tender as that of a mother for her child.  Who do you know who needs you to pray God’s comfort for them?
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
Jehovah-Nissi:  The Lord my Banner of Victory
Isaiah 11:10
Praise God that He gives victory over your enemies and sins, as you depend on the authority of your crucified, resurrected, victorious Redeemer.
Pray that He will be the same Banner for your friends and family.
thou anointest my head with oil
Oil was used for medicine, sanctification, appointment to office, and as a sign of fellowship.  Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit, who is all these things.  Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, restore, soothe, cleanse, appoint to His work, and give a sign of your fellowship with the Father and His Son.  Thank your Shepherd for His grace and favor that He gives you so generously.
Pray your family and friends will walk in the Spirit.
my cup runneth over.
Eph. 3:20-21
Exercise your attitude of gratitude.
Pray that your family and friends will praise God continually as their Source.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
Thank God for a specific evidence of His goodness and love He has shown you today.  Thank God for people who have shown His goodness and love to you.  Tell them so at your first opportunity.  Pray that they will see God’s goodness to them.
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Ask God to show you how to practice His presence with you continually.  Ask God for the body of Christ to worship Him with their whole heart and be committed to living in His presence daily.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stay Put!!

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the burden to pray?

I went to bed last night feeling that way.  

I had to first confess my sin of neglecting to pray like I should.  I often hear testimonies of people who spend hours in prayer and wonder how they do it.  I mean solid hours they will pray.  And then I will have days like the past few, when I am made aware of so many needs.  People are hurting.  Our nation is a mess.  Our economy is a mess.  And sadly, the churches in America seem to be full of people who are apathetic, in a mess, or just too comfortable doing their own thing.
I am the oldest child in my family of origin, a woman and a mother.  So guess what that makes me:  a fixer.  I have always wanted to "fix" things, to make them better.  I want to make those in my family who are suffering better.  I want to make my friend who is suffering right now better.  I want to make those who have suffered far too long with physical ailments better.  I want my nation to truly be "one nation under God" again, and I want our churches to be revived in faithfulness to the Lord.

I feel overwhelmed with a fresh burden to pray!

I was led to John 15:5 last night in my devotional.

"I am the vine;
you are the branches.  
If a man remains in me
and I in him,
he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing."  

I seemed to be drawn to that word "remain" and what it means to remain in the Vine, Jesus Christ.

The word "remain" in the Greek as translated in this verse is "meno" and it means:  to remain, abide, dwell, endure, last, persevere, to stand firm, to remain alive.  It is derivative of the Greek word "hypomeno" which means:  to remain under i.e. to persevere, endure, bear up under, suffer - miseries, adversities, persecutions or provocations, with faith.

One of the places in scripture that the original word "meno" is translated is in Mark 14:34.  This is where Jesus is in Gethsemane and he takes Peter, James and John further with him and tells them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death",... "Stay here and keep watch."

Another place where "hypomeno" is translated is in Romans 12:12,  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Faithful in prayer...Stay here and keep watch.

I am asking the Lord to help me remain in Him this week, to help me stay put and keep watch.  The answer for the hurting people, the sick people, our nation, our economy, and our churches are believers who will stay put at the feet of Jesus in faithful prayer.

Will you join me?


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oh when the saints...

go marching in, Oh when the saints go marching in.... Drew Brees, move over, 'cause there's a new #9 on the team!

Bentley was soooo excited to get his NFL Saints uniform in the mail from Target this week!

He played so hard!  There is a warning printed on the helmet: "Warning: Not for contact play".  Bentley, no contact play.  Yeah right, you gotta be kidding me!!  That boy tackled, threw the ball, rolled around until he passed out in the uniform.  He took his nap in the thing, shoulder pads and all.  It took me two days to get the jersey off so I could iron his number on the back of it!

He was not extremely excited about the photo shoot, but what can I say.  I'm a mama with a camera, so...

Baby sister had to get in on the action and tried the helmet on for size...

but, I think there's a little growing to be done!

Switching gears a little...

This weekend was the Fall Youth Retreat for the youth, so Mike and Cecily have been involved in that.  They had a progressive dinner and one session last night.  The girls all spent the night in one home and the guys in another.  This morning they met over at our Senior Pastor's home for a session and cookout and then have spent the afternoon at Mike Greenwell's for paint ball and some other fun stuff.

I decided to take Bentley and JennaBeth to McDonald's and then to the park to play.  Bentley never meets a stranger and had such a good time.  There was one little boy who showed up with some foam swords (thank goodness they were foam!) and he was so sweet to share with Bentley.

I started out this morning feeling a little down.  I don't know, the enemy just attacks me with loneliness sometimes.  And when I give in to him, he just piles on more.  Isn't that just like satan to do that to us?

I had things rolling around in my head like, "Don't you wish you were closer to family?" and "Don't you miss having time with girlfriends?" and "Aren't you tired of being stuck at the house all the time?" and on and on it goes.

And then in two different places these verses from scripture were pointed out to me:
"Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken
those who seek you."
Psalm 9:10

"The LORD upholds all those 
who fall and lifts up all who are
bowed down."
Psalm 145:14

I was interested in those two words from Psalm 145:14 "bowed down".  In the Hebrew they are translated "Awah" and mean to bend, make crooked; to act perversely, sin do wrong, commit iniquity.  The essential meaning is to deviate from the proper path.

So I began to ask myself, how have I deviated from the proper path this morning?  The answer:  I allowed the enemy to get a foothold in my thoughts and feelings rather than leaning on the Lord.

I am in a certain season of life at the moment that simply does not allow me to do all that I would like to do.  And can I add what a blessed season it is!  So, I choose to flee from the enemy and seek the Lord.  He will never forsake me.

Lonely?  How can I get too lonely when I get to spend every day with these two!



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seven Months Old

JennaBeth is seven months old today!  I can not believe seven months have passed by already.

She has become the little ham for the camera.

She is growing so much these days.  These are pictures of her in a little lady bug dress that "Aunt Pooh" from back in Greenville, MS made for her.


The next picture is of JennaBeth in an outfit of Cecily's (our 11 y/o) that I kept.  Cecily wore it when she was 6 months old.  The picture was taken back in July...

Here is baby girl with her first pair of bluejeans on, courtesy of cousin Jordan in MS...

Here are some things about you sweet girl at 7 months old:
  • You are now wearing Pampers Swaddlers diapers size 2-3.  Mommy likes it that they have this "in between size", because you aren't quite in a size 3 diaper, but the way you are growing, it won't be long.
  • You LOVE to eat!  Anytime you see someone with a plate, bowl, or cup, you think it should be something for YOU!  You really love sweet potatoes, and all of the fruits.  You haven't had anything from the table yet.  You only have two teeth so you haven't had any of the baby snacks either.
  • Your favorite word is "dadadada" over and over all day long.  You have even managed to get "daddy" out a few times.  You love your daddy.  You smile the biggest smile and kick and raise your hands for him to get you when you see him.
  • Your big brother continues to amuse you.  He cracks you up into those sweet baby chuckles!  You like to lay on the floor and "play" with him.  You actually roll cars around with him some.  Bentley says he is done with sharing though when you start to slobber on his cars.  He doesn't like you to do that very much.
  • You are wearing 6-9 month clothes and some 12 month dresses!  And you have the chubbiest little thighs!
  • Your brother has taught you how to "growl" at people.  You think it is way too funny.
  • Mommy will look at you and make kissing sounds.  You try your hardest to make them back at me, but you end up clucking your tongue, which I count as kisses back to me!
  • You aren't crawling yet, but you sure know how to roll and squirm your way around the living room floor!  You get where you need to go for sure.
  • You aren't quite sitting up on your own yet, but you can for a few seconds and you are good at propping your self up with your hands.
  • You love, love, love your big sissy, Cecily.  Other people can be around you, but when she walks up your little face just lights up!
Although it is hard for mommy and daddy to make ends meet sometimes, I am so thankful to God that he blesses and provides for our family so that I am able to stay at home with you and your brother!

Sweet Girl,
You were a sweet surprise to our family seven months ago!  Mommy and Daddy thought our family was complete with four, but the Lord knew it wasn't going to be complete until you came along.  We couldn't imagine our lives without you!  You are so loved by many people.  My prayer is that you will grow into a young woman with a heart for God and faithfully serve Him with your life.  Mommy, daddy, brother and sister love you very much.  You are a joy to us and we look forward to the days ahead as we watch you grow!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Game Night with the Girls

I love getting together with a group of ladies and just hanging out. Outside of spending relaxing and fun time with my husband and three kiddos, this is the best thing!!

I got to do that last night. Our ladies' ministry team scheduled a "game night" for our monthly fellowship time. It was so much fun! Okay, I'm having a flashback...Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" just buzzed through my head!

Anyway, some of the ladies from our church met at one of our elder's homes to eat some yummy snack food and play some games.

Everyone brought a snack food or dessert to share and they were all soooo good!

We met at the Moodys' home. That's Dawn Moody with the short black hair and white top standing behind the bar. Dawn has a beautiful home and is always so gracious to offer it for many of our church meetings and various functions. One of her many gifts is hospitality.

Here is a group of ladies at the "scrabble table". We had several different game tables set up with various types of games. The ladies got to pick what game they wanted to play and various groups formed around the tables. After a while, a bell was rung and you left your game just like it was and moved to a different game and picked up where that group left off. It was really a lot of fun.

Uno was another game we offered. I mean what is a better time than sitting around chatting with some girlfriends, snacking and playing some fun games without the hubbies and kids. Now don't get me wrong, we all love our husbands and kids. I don't mean any disrespect, but I'm just sayin....

There was also a Mexican Train Dominoe table set up. These ladies were just getting started.

This is my blog and I can brag if I want to, but I think we have some of the sweetest ladies at our church. I enjoy spending time with them. It is refreshing and encouraging for me to do this.

One of the purposes for the meeting last night was to introduce a new Bible study opportunity for the ladies at our church. We will be dividing into small groups of about 6 to 8 ladies each and going through Ligon Duncan's "Does Grace Grow Best In Winter?". This is what C.J. Mahaney says about this book from the back cover:
"If you are presently suffering, this book is for you. And if you are not, this book is still for you - in preparation for the trials that will undoubtedly come. Regardless of your current circumstances, Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? will help you perceive God's purpose in suffering, receive God's grace in trials, and draw near to our great High Priest, who suffered the unimaginable horrors of the cross for us."

Our pastor preached on this very subject over a couple of Sunday nights recently. His sermon title was "Responding to Suffering and Evil" and was taken from the book of Job. He said something that I wrote in my Bible. He stated that in the story of Job you find a contest for the glory of God.

That just resonated in my heart. As I look at my own life, past and present, and as I look at so many believers I know who are undergoing the trials of life, I wonder, all this is a contest for the glory of God! And I ask myself, how can I glorify God in this?

Are you in the midst of a "this"? Take heart! God is perfecting you and wants to prove you faithful!

Our small groups will begin meeting in a couple of weeks. The book is short, only 86 pages and four chapters, but from what some of the ladies who have already begun the book say, it is packed with power! We will meet every other week for four meetings. Each of those weeks, I will be doing a recap of the chapter with some of my impressions from my own personal study. So, visit back often and together we can learn how grace grows best in the "winter" times of our lives.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birthday Boy is 4!

UPDATE: Birthday Photos Have Been Added At The End Of This Post! I know grandparents will appreciate this!!

Bentley Terrell McIlwain is 4 years old today! He and I just ordered this together from

He really wanted the Miami Dolphins, but after I "measured him up" (that's what he told his daddy) the Dolphins uniform was going to be too big.

Then he had banana pudding for breakfast! Hey, it's got fruit and milk in it huh?

He is excited to know that yes, it is his birthday ALL DAY LONG!!!

We are taking him to that place "where a kid can be a kid" tonight for supper and birthday cake and then he is off to Toys R Us to spend some birthday money.
I'll add pictures from all that later tonight.

He has discovered he loves Moon Pies. He was eating one yesterday after lunch and did this:
He said, "Mommy, if I do this with my eyes (he was crossing them) it looks like I have two Moon Pies". I think he was just fishing for seconds. Ha Ha!

Here is Bentley and "Green Bear". They were resting a little and he thought his "Green Bear" might be cold and put him under the covers with him.
This picture shows the two sweet faces I get to see all day while big sister Cecily is at school. JennaBeth is big enough now to actually get on the floor and interact with her brother, which he loves. Bentley is so sweet with her. This picture was taken yesterday. Bentley on his own told me, "Mommy, I'm gonna share some of my trains with baby tister." I prasied him for sharing and they went on playing. After a little bit, this is what I heard from the kitchen, "Oh no,no, Jenna!" He said to me, "Mommy, I'm through sharing now!" When I asked him why he told me, "Because. Now she's eating and slobbering all on my trains. I'm through sharing now."

Bentley is also quite the character these days.

In the above picture he has part of his Mr. Potatoe head on his face! He really has such a fun loving personality and he gets really silly sometimes.

He loves his daddy! We went with the Senior Adults one day to Babcock Ranch. Bentley had such a good time seeing all the animals and wildlife. He would have nothing to do with petting the baby alligator though!

I love this picture of my little beach bum. He did not want to get in the water on this particular trip to the beach. There was lots of sea weed and the waves were really strong that day. He tells us now when we talk about going to the beach that he doesn't want to go the one with "all the sea weeds on it".

I love that we have this picture. After the birth of Cecily in 1997, she was a little sick and things were a little crazy in the hospital. In the midst of all the "stuff" we never got a picture of her as a newborn in the hospital with both me and Mike. We have pics of her with each of us but not with both of us. The same thing after Bentley was born. Somehow we left the hospital without one picture of the whole family. We managed to get this one after JennaBeth was born.

Bentley did really well. We had a sweet lady in our church that had Bentley stay with her. Ms Lena took such good care of him and gave him that special attention he was needing at the time. She brought him to the hospital each day to see his "baby tister". He was really curious about everything and trying to figure everything out. The second night we were in the hospital and he was there during one of JennaBeth's feedings. Bentley was sitting in the hospital bed beside me with JennaBeth. I got prepared to nurse JennaBeth and Bentley teared up and said, "Oh no, no Mommy. She's gonna bite you and hurt you." My heart just broke. He just did not understand at all and was about to cry!

These last two pictures are some I took of him on our very last day together before JennaBeth was born at a local park. We went to McDonald's and got happy meals and took them to the park for a mother-son picnic. I then waddled around the park as he played.

I tell you, it has been a wild ride with Bentley Terrell!! He is allllllllll BOY! I don't know where all the energy comes from. But he is a JOY! He has such a sweet nature about him at times that will just melt my heart. And then there are days that I'm ready to ring his sweet little neck!

However, I am so excited to watch him as he grows into the young man God is molding him into.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for this sweet boy you have given to me for a little while. What an honor it is to be his mommy! Please continue to watch over him and care for him both when my eyes are on him and when they are not. I pray that one day soon he will come to a saving knowledge of you and live his life faithfully serving you and loving you. I pray now for that special young woman you will one day bring into his life. May he love her and cherish her as Christ loves the church. And if marriage isn't in your plan for Bentley, may he faithfully pursue you all of his days in a way that honors and glorifys you.
I love you,
A Very Proud Mommy

We headed to.....

for supper. Bentley was enjoying his pizza.

While JennaBeth was stinking the place up with cuteness. The place which by the way had a zillion kids in it! Yes, we ended up going on a night when a local elementary was having a fundraiser night at Chuck E Cheese! Joy, joy!

Here's the birthday boy with his big "tisters", or the "old" baby sister (Cecily) and the "new" baby sister (JennaBeth) as Mike calls them.

JennaBeth is quite the ham for the camera these days! It's a wonder she doesn't go blind from the camera flash!

Chuck E even brought out Bentley's birthday cake for him and sang happy Birthday to him! He thought that was sooooo "aweshum".

Chuck E and the family...

JennaBeth was very interested in those fuzzy hands!

The cake that still has the boy up at 10:48 pm!!! :(((

JennaBeth says, "I'm ready for my bite of choco cake!"

After supper, Bentley went across the road (thank goodness it was just across the road, because it was pouring down rain when we left) to Toys R Us and shopped with his birthday money. He got two Speed Racer sets and a Tractor Tippin set from the "Cars" movie.

He had a really good time and when I asked him as we were leaving Toys R Us if he had enjoyed his birthday he said, "Yes Mommy, for willy, will". (really, real)

Now to wrestle the chocolate cake high into his bed!!!



Friday, September 11, 2009


September 13, Sunday, is GrandParents Day! Sprinkled throughout this post I will share some of the best "grandparent" quotes I have come across, beginning with...

Grandfathers are a special breed
Of kinfolk, all their own.
They love you and hug you,
And spoil you to death.
And then, they send you home.

© by Joyce C. Lock

As I have shared before, one of the difficult things about being a ministry family is that we haven't always lived close to family. We are presently about 1,000 miles away from family in MS and AL.

Thankfully, all of the GrandParents have been able to make it down to SW Florida to visit except for Mike's parents. Most recently my dad and step-mom were able to make a whirlwind trip down. They came last Saturday and stayed until Sunday afternoon.

Here is JennaBeth's first meeting Papaw Conrad and first picture with him:

No cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet. ~Author Unknown

My dad and Vera, my step-mom, drove all night Friday night in order to get to our house by 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. They brought with them their little baby, "Man". Here is "Man" and daddy catching a quick nap.

Lots of fun was had on the living room floor...
Not sure what the problem was here, but papaw did a good job of getting her calmed down...
JennaBeth was quite taken with papaw's hair...
A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart. ~Author Unknown

Bentley enjoyed papaw getting down on the floor and wrestling with him...

Do you know why grandchildren are always so full of energy? They suck it out of their grandparents. ~Gene Perret

Papaw and JennaBeth were in "deep" conversation...

We took this picture after church on Sunday...I don't think Bentley is winking. The sun was in his eyes. It was a hot day!
We couldn't get JennaBeth to look up for anything!
Cecily and Bentley with "Man"...and "Green Bear".
Daddy and Vera bought JennaBeth a sweet card and a generous financial gift. I went to Target today and was able to do well with the baby sale Target was having coupled with coupons I had. Look at the things I was able to get...
JennaBeth was so proud of all her things. I thought this little outfit was super cute. The little jean skirt with the leggings just kill me :) I can't wait for JennaBeth to wear this.
We had such a good time with Daddy, Vera, and "Man". Our family appreciated the effort they made to come down and visit and were especially thrilled that JennaBeth got to meet her papaw Conrad and Vera for the first time.

I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich. ~Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H

To all the GrandParents in our lives, WE LOVE YOU!!!