My Pumpkin Panic

Pumpkin Panic picture, pumpkins in a cart with hay

This past week I was scrolling Through Facebook and noticed that several of my friends were posting about fall. They were commenting that it was time for the fall decorations. Their posts were about pumpkin spice whatever and some stated they are ready for the cooler weather. In my mind I was like,” slow your roll,” “hold up,” “no, no, no, summer is not over yet!” I even thought about commenting a correction of sorts, you know like, “come on people, let’s not rush the seasons. Let’s hold onto summer for just a little while longer.”

Then my mind went to my love for all things Christmas and my tradition of decorating in early November. And all those who post their displeasure or confusion as to why some are rushing the season. So huh, interesting. I am about to post for all you hurry up and get fall here people, when I just want to roll my eyes at all those why ya gotta rush in Christmas people. And then I saw the flaw in my thinking. I recognized the double standard I was about to post.

Thankfully I saved myself the embarrassment of posting my opinion about rushing in fall leaving summer too quickly. Thankfully I paused and thought about my thoughts before I expressed them. What is my deal? It’s not my responsibility to call anyone out on when they add pumpkin spice to their anything and everything. Just because I prefer a cool crisp to the air while indulging in pumpkin spice lattes’ and pumpkin muffins. Who am I to tell anyone when they should or should not decorate for any season. Especially because of how annoyed I can get when I am questioned about my Christmas decor before Thanksgiving.

This double standard of sorts got me thinking about how we process and share our opinions on, well, just about everything. And how those opinions bring division, brokenness and can at times cause pain. I know you see it because I see it almost everyday. Someone makes a post based on their own experience or observation and someone or several someone’s are there to correct or even discredit the person. And then words start being slung back and forth until the group admin shuts off commenting. It’s like there is this idea that we have the right to tell others how to think, how to live, how to feel. Sometimes it’s a bit out of control, I’ve seen this kind of thing over which hair products are “allowed” for curly hair. I mean, really?

Who do we think we are? really, who do I think I am? What gives me the right? Ok, yes, yes, I have experiences and maybe I can share and help someone else. Maybe you have a great tradition, you share it and others love it and begin to try it. There’s nothing wrong with sharing our experiences, our thoughts and our opinions. As one as we recognize they are just that. So often we read posts on FB and begin to form an opinion without actually having all the facts. Without actually knowing the person or situation. And similarly we post comments that leave a lot of open ended conclusions. And then when it comes to the real stuff, the things in life that really matter, the same thing happens and the pain is grater. The division goes deeper. And we find ourselves separated from friends and family all because we think we are right. Hopefully the process of when summer ends and fall starts would not cause such division or hurt, but this double standard I saw in myself might overflow into other areas and cause confusion and hurt in peoples lives.

I am not always right. I’m probably not even right half of the time. I cannot even pretend that I know and understand your life experiences. I have no idea why you feel the way you do and because it is different from my feeling it does not make it wrong. Yes, there are some things that are right and there are just some things that are wrong and destructive, but Real truth, the kind that matters can only come from God, from His Word.

Social media posts are not a place for me to bring correction or criticize someone else’s choices. Who wants to scroll through and read posts that tell you how you should feel or what your opinion should be or how your thinking is wrong. I don’t! And as a matter of fact, I just roll on by those posts that start to feel like correction. And sadly, more times than not I am forming an opinion on that person based on limited information and without really knowing them, That is why these types of conversations are best had in person, face to face, maybe with some coffee and yes, maybe even a plate of pumpkin spice cookies!

There are some who think it is just wrong and maybe a little ridiculous to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. They question and are annoyed by those of us who get our Christmas joy on a little too early!

Yes, I love all things Christmas and I love decorating for the season. But, I start early for some real practical reasons. You don’t know what they are. And if you are the person who is annoyed by my early Christmas, you probably haven’t even asked me why so early? And guess what, at the end of the day does it really matter? Does it matter to you when I decorate? Does it matter to me if you disagree about it? Nope! Not even a little! Unless we allow it, by pushing people to think like we think.

My take away today from my little panic over pumpkins is to think about my words before I speak them or post them. It can be so easy for me to just react and spout off my opinion. But, it is so very important for me to pause, to contemplate and then respond. And…….and…..sometimes my response may be………..wait for it…….to say NOTHING!

What’s your preference? Are you already bringing out those pumpkins and scarecrows? Or are you waiting for a few of those crisp fall evenings before you break out the pumpkin spice candles?

Grief is Real. Overcoming Faith is Real.

Nathan Giles Senior Picture by car in tunnel

Nathan, my oldest, graduated from high school this May.  To say I am proud of him is an under statement!  He is a hard worker, he is determined and he’s genuine, compassionate and gracious.  He is probably the most chill person I know.  He is always been a talker!  Full of words beyond his years.  He is a dreamer and a planner. He never meets a stranger and is always ready to lend a helping hand.  He is faithful and trustworthy.  He is so very witty and keeps us laughing.  He gives great hugs!  And most importantly, he loves Jesus and is committed to follow God’s call on his life.   Being his mom and watching him grow into the man he is becoming today has been and continues to be one of the greatest joys of my life!

The time for senior portraits had come. For months I knew this portrait day was coming.  On the outside I knew and prepared.  I contacted a photographer, and I scheduled the day.  Just another senior year thing to do.  But, for me, somewhere locked away in a place I hoped I would not have to face, was this reality that I would not be able to look at and see those portraits.  You see, for a few years now I’ve realized that I’ve lost my ability to see faces and especially portraits.  There was a time when I could put them on my laptop and zoom in, but now not even zoom makes them visible.  And it’s these senior year portraits that are making me face the reality that even more of my sight is gone.

Nathan Giles Senior Picture in tunnel
Nathan Giles Senior Portraits by Sunny Cooke

I have faced disappointment and loss due to the deterioration of my sight.  Losing the ability to read a book, drive a car or make eye contact with my husband have been a few of the hardest losses.  With each loss I have allowed myself a little pity party, I have sucked it up and moved forward.  The reality is that I have got to keep moving forward and I cannot stay in a place of pity and sadness.  It’s definitely not fair and I will always long for the day when the miraculous happens and my sight will be restored.  But, until then, I have to find provision along the way.

I am not going to lie and say I am getting through this with no problem.  It’s been hard and the grief comes in waves.  Even now as I write, the tears keep coming.  Just when I feel I’m past the hard truth of it, it hits me all again.  I won’t ever be able to look back on my babies’ pictures and see their cute, chubby cheek, little baby faces.  All I have are my own memories and just being real, it sucks, it is hard, it is not fair, it is sad, and I want to see!

How do I cope with this loss and how will I get passed the heartbreak? First, I am just going to allow myself to grieve.  I am going to cry a little or maybe even a lot.  I am not going to try and hide the hurt and sadness I am feeling.   I am going to share my heart break with my close friends and family.  It is their love and support that will help me push past this initial grief.  I need them.

In time, I am going to move past this hard part.  I will never get over losing my sight and all it keeps from me, but I will learn to live in spite of the loss.  There is so much more to life than what my physical eyes can see.  I will hold on a little longer to those hugs.  I will slow down a little and take in each spoken word. I will welcome the healing that will come by just being with my family and friends.   I am not supposed to get by on my own.  I need my family and friends to get through the hard stuff. 

I am not going to allow myself to camp out here, in a place of loss. I am not going to just focus on what I cannot see. Sure, there is a reality to it all, but my life is full of so much more than just what my physical eyes might see. There is great blessing all around me. I know that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning!”

No matter what this new season of life holds for us, no matter how Nathan’s senior year will continue. I will be confident in the Truth that Gods plan for him are still YES and Amen! They are good plans full of hope! And there is no limit to what he can do.

I will continue to be confident in the sovereignty of God. I will stand firm on the TRUTH that healing is His will for my life. And even though I can’t see it, even though I may not understand it, I will continue to trust His plan. And until my sight is restored, I will continue to celebrate all His many blessings and provisions along the way.

My faith is strong, and I will continue to trust in Christ. My faith does not change because life is hard. It does not change because I have to walk through loss. My faith does not change because healing has not yet come. It does not change because I cannot see what and when I want or think I should. My faith remains in Christ, the sovereign one. My faith reveals the reality of what I hope for and it is the evidence of what I cannot see! (Hebrews 11:1)

John 21: Follow Me

Journaling Through John Fall Picture leaves falling

“As for you, follow Me.” John 21:20. (NLT)

Jesus appears to some of His disciples for a third time. They are out in their boats and are not catching any fish. Jesus calls to them from the shore and tells them to throw their nets to the right side. They do what He says and their nets are filled. Peter swims to shore to be with Jesus.

Jesus asks Peter 3 times if He loves Him. Peter replies, yes each time. The third time, Peter is a little frustrated that He keeps asking Him, because He does love Him and has said yes. Jesus reply is to tell Peter, then “feed my sheep.” He is calling Peter to go and continue His ministry to people.

Another disciple is there and Peter asks Jesus, “What about him?” And Jesus replies in verse 22, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.” Jesus is letting Peter know He needs to mind his own business and do what he is called to do. What the other does or does not do is none of his concern.

What a great reminder for me today. There are things God has called me to do. His plans and purposes for my life don’t match anyone else’s. What others do is not my concern. I must follow Him and obey the call and commands He has placed in my life. My life won’t look the same as anyone else’s. I can’t compare what I have done or have not done to others accomplishments.

Thank you Lord today for the plans and purpose you have for my life. I pray for a continued desire and determination to go after those things you are calling me to. May I not fall into the temptation to compare myself to others. I pray that I would keep my eyes fixed on you and follow where you go. Amen.

What is God speaking to you today in chapter 21 of John? Share your insights in the comment section below.

John 20: Not By Sight

“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” John 20:29. (NLT.)

“But these are written that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. And that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.” John 20:31 (NLT)

This chapter starts at the empty tomb. The stone was rolled away and Jesus has risen from the grave! He is alive! The disciples see Him and realize what they thought they knew, Jesus is the Messiah! Thomas, one of the disciples, was not there when Jesus first appeared to them. When they told him they had seen Jesus alive, Thomas said He would not believe until He saw Jesus.

It was 8 days later when the disciples were together again and Jesus came to them. Thomas was with them and Jesus told Thomas to “Look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. believe!” John 20:27 (NLT) Then Thomas believed that Jesus was Alive!

In verse 29 Jesus tells Thomas “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” And this is where faith comes into play. I’ve never seen Jesus, seen the holes in His hands or touched the wound in His side, but I believe what the Word says. He came as a baby, fully God and fully man. He willingly went to the Cross and died for the payment of my sin. And He overcame death, hell and the grave. He rose from the dead and Lives!

Verse 31 tells me that these things are written so that I will continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah! And, that because I believe I will continue to have life by the power of His name! It’s His Word that brings me hope, that strengthens my faith and reveals Jesus to me.

My prayer today is for a greater desire and love for His Word. I pray for the hunger for the Word would be continuous. I pray for a greater depth in my understanding. Thank you Lord for your Word and for the life it gives me. Amen.

What is God revealing to you today in chapter 20? Share your insights in the comment section below.

John 19: It Is Finished

“It is finished!  Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  John 19:30  (NLT)

Jesus was arrested and taken to Pilate.  They flogged Him with a lead tip whip.  They put a crown of thorns on His head and they mocked Him.  They cried, “Crucify Him!”  He carried His cross and they led him to Golgotha where they hung Him to the cross.  It was there that He made the final sacrifice for my sin.  He said “it is finished.”

It was in that moment that the payment was made for my sin.  It was in that moment that Jesus made a way for me.  It’s because of this moment I have access to the Father.  He gave His life so I could have life.  His life for mine.   It’s because of this moment that I have hope that surpasses anything here on this earth.

May I never forget this moment. May I never loose sight of the price He paid for my life.  May I always take sin seriously and surrender all to Him.  I will never be able to say thank you enough for the forgiveness He freely gives me.  Lord, I stand amazed at all you have done.

What is God speaking to you today in chapter 19 of John?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

John 18: Willingly He Surrendered

“Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to Him, so He stepped forward to meet them.”  John 18:4 (NLT)

Jesus and His disciples have gone off into the garden, a place they had gone   often.  There the Roman soldiers and temple guards came to find and arrest Jesus.  And without any fan fair, Jesus stepped forward.  Verse 4 says that Jesus  “fully realized ALL that was going to happen.”

Jesus asked, “Who are you looking for?”  They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (v. 5)  When Jesus told them, I am He,” “they all drew back and fell to the ground.” (v. 6) Did you catch that?  when Jesus spoke, there was such power that they “all fell to the ground!”

First, Jesus stepped forward because He knew the time had come for Him to fulfill His purpose.  He was aware of the suffering that was to come, yet He stepped forward without any resistance.

Then, in verse 6, He demonstrates His power.  He could have wiped them all out and continued on.  He chose to go forward and become the sacrifice we all need. He knew God’s plan.  He knew the difficulty ahead. And even though He could have stopped them all, He willingly let them arrest Him.  He surrendered Himself.

I’m not sure I can find the right words to adequately express what I am understanding here in these couple of verses.  I’ve always known that Jesus went willingly to the cross.  But, really, He went WILLINGLY!  He had the power to stop it all, but He chose Me.  He chose suffering and death for my benefit.  He said yes to Me and took the punishment I deserve.

This is a truth I’ve always known.  But this morning I am gaining a new a deeper revelation of His love for me and for all mankind. I’m in awe of Him.  I’m amazed and overwhelmed.

Jesus, thank you for your great love for me.  I can’t fully comprehend it all and I don’t feel thank you is enough.  I pray that I would live my life walking in your presence and reflecting the grace you have given me.  I pray today for a continued awareness of your love for me.  Amen.

What is God revealing to you today in chapter 18 of John?  Share your insights in the comment section below.

John 17: His Prayer for Me

“I am in them You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent Me and that You love them as much as you love Me.” John 17:23. (NLT)

This chapter is a prayer from Jesus. He knows the time has come for Him to fulfill His purpose. He prays for His disciples and in verse 20 He says,, “I am praying not only for these disciples, but also for all who will ever believe in Me.” Which means He is praying for me in this chapter. His words to His Father are for me! For my life! Today! Right now! In this moment! His words are for me!

In verse 23 He says He is in Me. His presence and power fills me today. It’s His presence that strengthens me and holds me. I am so very grateful for the assurance I have that He is in me.

He prays that we, those who believe He is who He says He is, will experience “such perfect unity”. SO THAT, “the world will know that You sent Me and that you love them as much as You love Me.” Our unity as believers will show the world Jesus and the greatness of His love!

There is and has been, such a need for the peace, hope and joy that Jesus brings. i believe He truly is the answer to all we need. Jesus prays for perfect unity and when I look around me I see a lot of disunity. I see the division among believers, those who believe and know the presence and power of Jesus. How different would our world look if we could be in “perfect unity?”

I pray today for the presence of Jesus to be greater in my life. I pray that I will be slow to speak and quick to listen. I pray for His peace to be in me, with Me and that it will be evident where I go. I pray that as much as possible, that I live peaceably with everyone (romans 12:18). And I pray for His presence to strengthen me. I want to be a woman who is lead by the Spirit, who speaks and responds by the leading of the Spirit. I pray He is greater and I am less. Amen.

What is God speaking to you today in chapter 17 of John? Share in the comment section below.

John 16: Take Heart

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Jesus is with His disciples and He is telling Him He will be leaving them soon. He is going to be with the Father, but He will send an Advocate to be with them. He tells them He is going but will return. This chapter ends with Jesus letting them know there will be difficulties in this world, but He has overcome the world and we can find our peace in Him.

I love this verse! First, it lets me know that any difficulties or sorrows I may face in this life are not a surprise to the Lord. He knows about sin and about the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy. He is aware of every difficulty I will face. He knows about the hardships and brokenness I will have to overcome. He knows about the hurt and the heartbreak.

Secondly, He has already made provision for me. I can find peace in the midst of any storm. He is with me and makes provision for me along the way. It’s in the midst of the difficulties and sorrows that I can see most and sense His presence.

And this verse ends with Him saying I can take heart, He has overcome the world! It’s in my mortal human body that I can get caught up in the moment. I can only feel what I am feeling today and can’t comprehend the eternal truth, He is victorious! It’s in His presence that I can overcome!

I am thankful today for His peace in my life. Today I lean into His presence and the reassurance that He has overcome! My hope is in Him. Amen.

What is God speaking to you today in chapter 16 of John? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

John 15: Surrender to the Pruning

“He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” John 15:2 (NLT)

This verse can easily be a verse I want to pass by. Sometimes the process of pruning can be difficult. The parts of me that are not fruit bearing may be difficult to let go because I like the control I have or it’s because it caters to my insecurities. I can find a sense of comfort in control and in my self. Then, there are those branches that are producing fruit that He comes to prune. I don’t like this process, because what is happening is working, so don’t take it away.

And now I read what I just wrote and I’m like, duh Stasia, pruning brings health. So why do you want to avoid a process that brings health and fruitfulness to your life? I think it’s the action of fully surrendering ALL to Him. Giving Him complete access to all my heart and releasing my hold. Yep, it’s all about control. I want to decide and hold on to those things He is wanting to prune.

Now as I write, I’m thinking of health that comes from pruning. And I desire health in my life. I want to be a woman who serves, loves and leads from a place of health. I know giving Him full control in this process won’t always be easy, but the results will be more than I can hope or imagine. I want to surrender it all!

I pray today for the process of pruning. I pray for an awareness of the pruning. I pray for a whole surrender to His process. And as I sit here I feel an excitement rise up, and great anticipation of the work He is doing in my life. Lord, I release my hold and surrender all to you. Amen


What is God speaking to you today in chapter 15 of the Gospel of John? Share your insights in the comment section below.

John 14: The Gift of Peace

“I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

Jesus is speaking with His disciples preparing them for when He leaves. He says He must go be with the Father and there He will prepare a place for them. He says the only way is through Him, He is “the way, the truth and the life.” (V. 6) He then goes on to tell them that the Father will send the Holy Spirit, an advocate who will not leave and will lead into all truth.

Jesus goes on to tell them that He will leave them with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And oh, how I find hope in this verse today. That in Christ I can have peace of mind and heart. I can and do find myself feeling troubled by all that is happening in the World. I’m allowing myself only small doses of news and media. It only takes a few minutes of scrolling through social media or reading today’s headlines and I can begin to feel overwhelmed, heavy and helpless. If I stay in that place, relying on my own thoughts, the weight only gets heavier. But I have the presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort me, to bring perspective and empower me to pray and intercede.

Jesus says, “Don’t be troubled or afraid!” I don’t think this means that I cannot be aware of what is happening. I can’t separate myself and deny the reality of life happening around me. But, it’s in the midst of all the chaos that I can lean in and find peace of mind and peace in my heart. This peace can only come from Him, from His Holy Spirit. And it’s out of this place of peace that I can find direction and purpose. It’s in His presence that I am empowered to pray. It’s in that peace that I find hope. It’s His peace that strengthens me and leads me. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, I need His Word and His presence in my life. Without it I would be greatly afraid.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the advocate that brings comfort to me daily! I pray for a greater awareness of your presence in my life that comforts me and empowers me. I pray for continued peace in my mind and heart. Amen.


Let’s talk about what you received from today’s chapter.  Share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below!