Destiny Church Baptisms ~ Jacksonville

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Lead Pastor Chris  Tomlinson w/2 two young women to be baptized

80 Degrees in the Sun in February

Still both young women commented the water was incredibly cold. Well we are Floridians. We enjoy heated pools.

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The first young lady to take the plunge. “Hold your nose!”

…the church photographer in the foreground

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When the second young woman was baptized the pastor comment on how nice it was she was wearing white. This is a reference to the first century Christian baptisms when new Christians who were making this public commitment wore white.

…church photographer kneeling in foreground

What a happy occasion. I enjoyed this ceremony tremendously. Destiny Church begins a 21-day fast tomorrow. There are many kinds of fasts (limited food, giving up sweets, giving up internet, etc.).

Destiny Church of Jacksonville | 9525 Philips Hwy Jacksonville, FL 32256 | 904-401-1334

Sunday Service: 10:0 am

Hope You’re Rockin’ Around ~ the Christmas tree

J's Biker Jacket

In the new old fashioned way.

When I got up to feed the strays it was 40 degrees in Jacksonville (with a feels like of 38). That’s when Floridians start thinking of wintering in the Caribbean. It had dropped to the mid 30s overnight. It was cold and damp…a breeze coming off the Atlantic and up the St. John’s River. I’m closer to the river than the beach.

I had been meaning to give my late husband Joseph’s biker jacket to Goodwill since I only wore it once last year. That was right before Christmas, when I went to see Deck the Chairs in Jacksonville Beach with my daughter Victoria and Lynn Woods Rix writing as Dalyn Woods. It was cold that night This year, I wanted to let someone get some use out of the jacket, but Joseph had loved it even though he didn’t have a Harley, not even a motor scooter. It made him feel a little like James Dean. I must confess, when I wear it some of that James Dean spirit rubs off on me too. There’s just something about a well-worn, broken in biker jacket.

Joseph passed away on December 8th three years ago. I’m seeing a lot of memes about how to treat a person who is mourning at Christmas. Should you bring up the loved one who is gone? Should you tip-toe around it? If you care for your loved one who is in mourning, they will know you care. You might say the wrong thing. If you’re a believer, you might say, “He/she’s in heaven with Jesus,” when all your loved one wants is for them to be back here, even for a moment. We all say the wrong thing in situations like this. Your loved one knows that. Your loved one has also said the wrong things. It means you’re human.

So, what should you do? What should you say at Christmas to a loved one who’s heart is aching (and mourning goes on for years)? Say, “I love you lots.” Call them, tweet them, private message them, email them, send them cute, light-hearted memes, send them a Christmas card. For a person in mourning, the hours can creep slowly by, feeling empty. Fill some of that empty space up…in a gentle, gentle way saying “I love you.” “I’m thinking of you.” Don’t pressure them to be part of the holly-jolly spirit of Christmas, but leave the door open to them if they’d like to join in. You might be surprised. They might have no place to celebrate and would love to be part of your Christmas.

…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

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Joseph, Christmas morning 2012, before coffee
JDC Waldorf Astoria-Boca
Boca Raton, vacay 2011

Jacksonville ~ Is Christmas Town

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First Coast All About Christmas

A neighbor in my condo complex wanted to see the local  Mandarin Chick-fil-A’s Twelve Nights of Christmas, again. Mandarin is our neighborhood in the geographically huge city of Jacksonville.

She’d been there the night before to support her daughter’s school. Each night if customers mentioned the name of the particular local not-for-profit showcased, the organization received a percentage of the price of the meal. So, I said, “Why take two cars, I’ll drive.”JAX Xmas Tree 3

We had our chicken sandwich meal and the place was packed with families. Squirming, laughing children couldn’t wait to rush over to the the outside decorated area and see what was going on. Many of the not-for-profits had decorated a tree.

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We were early-birds and the singing presentation would be quite a bit later. We didn’t stay for it. We did listen to the teenagers rehearsing their Christmas carols. They sounded great.JAX Chick-f0;-A Carolers

Jacksonville is on the First Coast (called thus because St. Augustine was the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the Americas) and the First Coast is very Christmasy. Nothing can compare to it.  It seems every single church is having a presentation of some type (classical Christmas music, Christmas worship music, children’s presentations, a series of family-friendly Christmas movies, and much more). There are local neighborhood Christmas crafts fairs, food fairs, and the like.

JAX Chick-fil-A Cow

I did get to meet the Chick-fil-A cow from the television commercials. He is real.

The Jacksonville Historical Society has an extraordinary Gingerbread Extravaganza display every year. Grade school classes contribute displays as well as professional bakers.

Jacksonville Beach has Deck the Chairs every year. I went last year and it was spectacular…forty decorated lifeguard chairs.

When I lived in NYC, my husband and I went many times to see “the tree” and huge lighted angels at Rockefeller Center. Each time it was wonderful. But, let me tell you, St. Augustine’s Night of Lights at Christmas has NYC beat by a mile. You have not seen a Christmas light display like this. It’s not to be missed.

Fireworks Show ~ at Evangel Temple

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My energetic, fun friend Deborah Williams knows almost everything that’s going on in Jacksonville. Well, almost everything that would be of interest to her group of friends (a bunch of seasoned gals to like to kick back, but also want a few laughs now and then).

So, she told me about the pre-holiday fireworks display at Evangel Temple [5755 Ramona Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32205]. I said, “Yippee doodle, let’s go.” And we did.

It turned out to be the quintessential Fourth of July celebration. Little kids ran around playing with sparkling toys their parents purchased at various booths on the church grounds. Some of the girls turned cartwheels. Deborah and I got steak hamburgers and fries from one of the food trucks in the parking area.

A pastor gave a sermon about freedom in Christ changing one’s life which was appropriate, I thought. There were worship songs and patriotic marches. The young lady who sang the Star Spangle Banner did a wonderful job. Whenever that song is sung, I always wonder if the singer will be able to hit the high notes. She did.

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Then they shot fireworks from the roof of the church. A totally professional extravaganza that seemed to go on and on thrilling everyone, especially the children

Evangel Church bills itself as a vibrant evangelical church in the heart of Jacksonville. They certainly lived up to that.

 

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Celebration Church ~ 20th anniversary

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The main entrance to Celebration Church’s Arena Location

 

Sunday I drove to my church, Celebration Church in Jacksonville. It has four locations in Jacksonville, one in Zimbabwe, and one in Paris. I attend at the arena in the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville. I was in a state of anticipation, as we will be celebrating the church’s  20th anniversary the entire month of November.

On the way to church, I prayed there would be not one pretzel stuffed with spinach and cheese left in the cafe. I got on line, with resolve to purchase only a large coffee. When I got up to the counter there was one spinach and cheese pretzel left. This is absolute proof that the old adage is true, the devil does indeed go to church. [LOL] I took a deep breath, prayed through and got the coffee. Whew!

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What profoundly hit me in Senior Pastor Stovall Weems preaching Sunday was that the church was holy ground, but not just church property (which certainly is sacred space), but, the body of Christ, we are also holy ground. The Kingdom of God on earth is holy ground. I had a revelation in a new and profound way what “kingdom” meant in Biblical terminology, history, culture. I came away with a new understanding of how I am a citizen of the that holy kingdom right here on earth.

I had a deeply insightful revelation of myself as a child of the King. Now, even in the earthly realm, a king can have many children. Solomon did. Many kings of old did. My heavenly Father has billions of children and I am one of them. I’m a daughter of the King. I’m in His family. I am family to the King and this just tickles me and I’ve never felt that before. I have the right to sit at His table…and He’s got a big table. This became more real to me than it ever has before, and it was such an enriching, uplifting, and fun experience.

Pastor Stovall went through a list of things that are holy ground, that perhaps we don’t have enough reverence for. I can’t give you his exact list, but here is my list: communion, water baptism, Christian schools and colleges, Christian radio and TV stations, and yes, yes Christian homes.  My home and the homes of all saints are holy ground and to be treated as such. At the end of the service, Pastor Stovall blessed everyone’s home. This was particularly meaningful to me as I just moved into a new condo. When Pastor Stovall gave the blessing, I felt as if the King was in the sanctuary…His Holy Spirit was…and that my home was indeed blessed, thoroughly blessed.

Celebration Church

 

 

European Street @Park Street in Riverside ~ a restaurant review

 

 

I’m late writing this review since I went to the European Street Cafe on Park Street/Riverside  in the winter. I was cold that day and immediately asked for coffee. The very nice waitress brought it right away with half and half. I don’t know if I wasn’t thinking due to the cold, but I wanted plain milk. So, I asked and she brought that. The coffee was very good, warmed me. [I must note, having once been a New Yorker, cold in Jacksonville, Fl is anything below 50 degrees.]

For lunch, I ordered the Smoked Pastrami Reuben sandwich on black bread with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, which was excellent. There certainly is plenty of meat between the bread slices. The chips were crispy. I finished the meal with carrot cake, which for some reason I didn’t photograph. I probably simply devoured it as it was yummy. My friend ordered a huge cookie with whipped cream. I also didn’t photograph her lunch selection. As I said I was cold and probably grumpy that day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the fun of European Street is browsing the cake display and bottled beer offerings after eating. I’m not a beer aficionado and didn’t purchase any but looking added to the experience

This is an American cafe with a definite German twist.  Casual dining. A good place for robust sandwiches and/or German beer. Frankly, I’m all eyes for their cakes. The prices are very reasonable.

Gator’s Dockside, Baymeadows, Jacksonville ~ restaurant review

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This big boy is their mascot, a chalkboard with specials is behind it.

My author friend and I had business in Baymeadows. We were hungry so we stopped in for lunch. She’s a great fan of the Monte Cristo sandwich which she first had near Buffalo, NY. She said it’s hard to find one in Jacksonville. I’d never had one, so we both ordered it and it came with fries. It’s American and Swiss cheese stacked between wheat bread, and then batter-fried golden brown. It’s covered in powdered sugar and served with raspberry preserves for $11.99. It was very good, filling, and not on my diet.

We were seated in a booth in which the cushions were placed in a wooden frame that was uncomfortable to get in and out of. Once seated, it was very comfortable, but I wanted to limit getting in and out. Next time I’ll sit at a table. Our server was attentive and warm. All of the staff was courteous as far as we could see. When we arrived the place was pretty empty. Two guys were at the bar, a large family was about to leave. About half way through our meal, a few more families came in and sat at tables.

The ladies room was very clean. We weren’t there to watch a game, but it seems it would be a good place to do so.

This review first appeared in Yelp.

8650 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, Fl 32256

904-449-0500

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High-top tables