Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Glorious Beginning~

So many times
we look at the 
end of something
and think life
as we know it
is over.

And,
maybe it is
for that particular
season of our life.

But,
what we fail
to remember 
is that 
our God 
is a God
of new.

When one 
season is over,
it is only 
ushering in
a brand new one.

And Fall,
more than
any other season,
reminds us that
"the end"
can be 
a glorious part 
of the new beginning.

For God
is in it all.




~ Stacy


Monday, April 27, 2020

Peace is Found in the Surrender~

Sports and me?
Together?

Well,
let's just say
we're not as close as
peanut butter and jelly
or mac n cheese.

In fact,
when it comes
to sports in general,
I've always tried
to keep a safe distance
between them and me.

And yet,
I have found myself
actively engaged
in an activity
of a sporty nature.

And not just any sport,
mind you.

No - the sport
I have found myself
thrown into
is oddly
(or maybe not odd at all)
the one that allows
the least distance
between competitors.

WRESTLING!

If ever there was a
full-on,
no space between,
contact sport -
wrestling is it.

As to the hows and whys
that brought me to this place,
and positioned me on this mat,
most likely this will all unravel
in future posts -
(I'm still processing it all -
because you know as well as me,
whenever God is in it,
it can be overwhelming
and it takes some time
to find the appropriate way
to communicate His move
in ways that do justice
to the all of who He is),
but for now -
it's safe to say,
this wrestling has done it's job.
(at least for the moment)

And that's the thing about wrestling:
in order to stay in the game,
in order to gain an advantage,
in order to pin your opponent,
and be declared the winner,
you have to
lean into,
press against,
and lay all your weight up against,
the one you are wrestling with.

Thankfully for me,
I have no problem
at all
leaning into,
pressing up against,
and laying all of my weight
on the one I'm wrestling.

In fact,
it is the very close proximity
and the very nature of wrestling
that has positioned me
right where I need to be:
leaning into,
pressing up against,
and laying all of my weight
on my Jesus.

I couldn't be
in a better place.

So, while sports
definitely aren't my thing,
I've come to love wrestling.

Not for the sake of wrestling,
because anyone who has wrestled
knows it can twist you
and turn you in some
unique and unusual positions
before the match is over,
wearing you out
and leaving you flat on your back
with nothing left to give,
but simply for the fact
that it brings me
so close,
so very, very, very close
to the heart
of my Father.

So close,
I can hear the beat
of His heart
and soon,
amid all the huffing and puffing,
amidst all the tossing and turning,
in spite of all the moaning and groaning,
(from me - never my Lord)
my own heart beat,
my own breaths,
begin to fall into rhythm
with His.

And like Jacob,
who wrestled
with His Lord, too,
when you come away
from the match,
you are changed -
in ways you can't even explain,
but in ways you can't deny.

And while some might feel
it is irreverent
to wrestle with the Lord,
I would humbly disagree,
for the place I have been,
the position I have found myself in,
this place of wrestling,
of leaning into,
pressing up against,
and laying all of my weight
upon my Savior
has been nothing less
than sacred and holy.

Through this wrestling,
God has
met me,
held me,
challenged me,
instructed me,
re-positioned me,
and humbled me.

He has
given me deeper insight
into who I am
in light of who He is,
and has shown me unquestioningly
the areas of my life
where spiritually speaking,
I am still so
vulnerable and weak.

And while most wrestlers
play to win,
the greatest lesson I have learned,
while wrestling with my Lord
is preciously and powerfully this:

Peace is found in the surrender.

When King Jesus is
finally and officially
declared the winner,
peace reigns supreme.

Yes, anything that draws us
closer to our Lord
is a blessing.

And for me
the blessing has come
through wrestling -
a wrestling, which in turn,
brought me to place of
willful surrender,
which ushered in
the peace
that passes all understanding.

And even though,
someone watching from the sidelines
would declare Jesus
the true winner in this match,
(which He unequivocally is -
always and each and every time,
for all time)
I have to say,
and forever give thanks,
that my losing me
to better
serve and love Him
has me
feeling like a winner, too.




~Stacy 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Do the Unthinkable~

So many times in life
we find our self
in a place where we never
thought we would be.

Divorced.
Addicted.
Depressed.
Abused.
Overweight.
Unemployed.
Diagnosed.

The list could go on and on -
but, you don’t need me to identify your present location.
You are there.
You already know the place where you are all too well.
And, you feel trapped.
You feel as though you have no way out.

Either by choices we have made
or circumstances beyond our control,
life takes an unexpected turn,
down an unanticipated path,
to a never before imagined,
unthinkable place.

Before we know
what has happened
or where we are,
we find our self
behind locked bars
with no key and no way out.

I know.
I’ve been there.
So have Paul and Silas.

Acts 16, NLT
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and thrown in jail. They found themselves in a place where they never thought they would be. It wasn’t their choice to be where they were. It was the choice of the angry mob. Yet, here they were. Mistreated. Locked up. Trapped.

Sometimes we, too, find our self in a place not of our own choosing.
Someone else or circumstances out of our control have made the choice for us.

We didn’t want a divorce.
Cancer wasn’t in our plans.
We did nothing to deserve being abused or mistreated.
Yet, it happened.
We were stripped of our dreams,
beaten down by something outside of our self,
and thrown into our situation.

We are there -
seated right beside Paul and Silas.

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, 
and the other prisoners were listening.

Amazingly enough,
despite what they had just experienced
and in spite of where they now found themselves,
Paul and Silas decided to pray and sing.

PRAY AND SING!

Life sent them to an unthinkable place
and in turn, 
they did they unthinkable.

With feet bound,
and flesh torn,
they praised God.

Those around them couldn’t help
but hear the praises
flowing from their hearts.

Chances are you
are not alone
in your unthinkable place.

If you look around,
you will discover others
going through the same experience you are.

Could it be you have
found yourself in this place
by no choice of your own
because God has plans to use you
to bless others who are walking this road with you?

26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

Paul and Silas chose to praise God
and when they did,
God responded.

And, don’t miss this!

Their praise not only set them free,
but it brought freedom to the entire prison.
EVERYONE in the prison was set free.

Today in the very midst of your situation,
I challenge you to praise God -
not silently, but boldly.

Praise Him with everything you’ve got!
Praise Him no matter where you are
and no matter who may hear.
Praise Him from the very depths of your heart.

Like Paul and Silas,
your praise has the potential
to not only set you free,
but to loose the chains
of all those imprisoned with you!

27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer was the one responsible
for all the prisoners.
This was his job.
This is what he had been told to do.
This was his place in life.
Yet, when the prisoners appeared to be free
and he thought his job and his life were over,
he almost killed himself.

Chances are the ones in your life
who have been holding you prisoner
are in this place because
this is what they know.
This is what they have been taught.
This is where life has placed them.

Those who have been abused often abuse others.
Hurting people hurt people.
But notice,
through the power of praise,
even the jailer -
the one holding them captive -
was set free!

29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” (Act 16)

Did you notice the jailer
brought them out of the jail.
They didn’t remain where
they once were
now that they had been set free.

When God opens
locked doors in our life
we can’t dilly dally around
and stay in the place
that once held us captive.

We must get out.
We must move 
into the new place of freedom 
God has for us.

The jailer knew this.
He wanted nothing to do
with the old place he had been.

And, he wanted whatever it was
Paul and Silas had.

He wanted joy -
the kind that makes you sing
when you are imprisoned.

He wanted power -
the kind that opens prison doors
and sets captives free.

Most of all, though -
He wanted to experience
true freedom in Christ.
He (the only one physically free)
wanted to truly be set free!

It doesn’t matter where you are today.
It doesn’t matter if you are there
because of choices you made
or choices someone else made.  
All that matters is that God is there with you.

Like Paul and Silas, you can be set free.
Like Paul and Silas, God can use you to set others free.
The choice is yours.

Are you in an unthinkable place today?

Then, like Paul and Silas - do the unthinkable.

PRAY AND SING! PRAISE GOD! -
and watch God do the unthinkable!

Watch God move!
Watch God shake your world!

Watch God open the doors
and loosen the chains
and set you
and everyone around you,
free!




~Stacy



Saturday, April 4, 2020

Don't Settle~

Dust settles.

When life stirs it up,
it simply settles,
however and wherever.

Although made of dust,
when life stirs you and me up
through hardships,
trials,
challenges,
disappointments,
frustrations,
and dead ends,
you and I
should be very intentional
as to
when,
where,
and how
we settle.

Through each of these
"dust flying moments",
God can work a work in us
that will far outweigh
and greatly exceed
any inconvenience,
any anger,
any hopelessness
we might experience
in the midst of it.

Our job is not
to simply "settle"
for what life hands us;
our job is to place our life
in God's hand
and allow Him
to use every bit of it
to settle us
in Him.

And after you have 
suffered a little while,
the God of all grace
[Who imparts all blessing and favor],
Who has called you to His [own]
eternal glory in Christ Jesus,
will Himself complete
and make you 
what you ought to be,
establish and ground you securely,
and strengthen,
and settle you.
~1 Peter 5:10 (AMP)

Don't ever settle
for anything less
than God's best for you.

Don't ever settle
until God, Himself,
has settled you.




~Stacy

Monday, March 30, 2020

All You Need~

Lying in bed,
head on my pillow,
eyes closed tight,
head focused on God,
my spirit cried out to God.

"Lord, fill me with all I need."

There in the darkness,
I listened for His still small voice.

"My child,
you already have
all you need.
You have my Spirit
living inside you.
All that I am is yours,
ready to be accessed
any time,
any place,
in any situation.

You have all you need
because you have Me.

My child, don't you see?
You ask amiss.

The cry of your heart
is not about what you need,
it's about what you fear.
And for this,
you have all you need, as well.

For I did not give you
a spirit of fear,
but of power,
and of love,
and of a sound mind.

Power - my Spirit working in you.
Love - my Spirit flowing from you.
A sound mind - my Spirit living through you.

Don't be afraid, My child.
You have Me
and you already have
all you need.

Rest in this truth.
Rest in Me.
Simply rest, My child."

And, I did.~♥️

♥️


~Stacy


Friday, March 20, 2020

How'd I Miss That?~

When my father's health was declining,
the Lord opened the door for me
to move back home with my parents.

Unfortunately,
my husband wasn't able
to make the move.

For five years,
seven hours of driving each way,
my husband and I commuted
back and forth
on long weekends and holidays.

(Did I mention we traveled
this seven hour road
back and forth,
forth and back
for five years?)

Each time I found myself
behind the wheel,
I was on a mission:
getting home
to see my husband
or getting back up
to my parents.
Both hands
on the steering wheel,
eyes locked on the road
in front of me,
full steam ahead.

A couple of years ago,
far removed from the situation
that had been my life
for five years,
I traveled this same route
once again.

This time was different, though.
I had no mission.
I was leisurely traveling North
to spend time with my mother.
I was on a mini-vacation.
Time was my friend,
not my enemy.
The trip was inviting,
not to be endured.

And,
what a trip it was.

I saw antelope,
bouquets of wild flowers,
fluffy clouds,
a stately windmill,
the smile on an elderly lady
as I drove down the main street
of a little town.

Everywhere I looked,
I saw beauty.
Each time I turned
my head or a corner,
I saw life.

The entire trip
I saw everything
I had failed to see
for five years!

How had I missed all of this before?

Sadly, each time
I drove this road before
I only saw
what was right
in front of me.

The commitments.
The obligations.
The demands.
The deadlines.
The distance to be traveled.

The same was true of Elisha's servant.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17
When he awoke one morning,
all Elisha's servant could see
was an army surrounding him.

That's it!

He only saw
what was directly
in front of him.
But then,
Elisha prayed
the eyes of this
"spiritually blind" man
would be opened
to see what was
truly before him -
the army of the Lord
surrounding them.

It makes no difference 
if we are merely out
for a joy ride 
or fighting the battle 
of our life, 
we cannot afford 
to lose our spiritual vision.

We cannot settle
for merely seeing
what is before us.
We must also see
beyond that,
to see God
in every place
of our life.

In the beauty
of a desert landscape,
He is there.

In the operating room
of a hospital,
He is there.

In the traveling
of life's highway,
He is there.

And yes,
even (and especially!)
in the deadlines,
demands,
disappointments
and diseases
of life,
He is there.

Don't miss 
what you can't see
by only concentrating
on what you do see.

Faith looks beyond.

Faith sees
what can't be seen
(yet!).

When we allow God
to open our eyes,
our vision becomes clear.

We see beauty
where we have never
noticed it before.

We see the
army of the Lord
encamped around us
ready to
protect and defend.

We see God!


~Stacy

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Squinty Eyes, Still~

Sometimes,
most times, in fact,
even if we aren't even looking -
God is faithful to place right in front of us,
exactly what our heart is needing most.

At least that's the way
it happens most often for me.

Not while on bent knee
(although He does speak to me here),
not while knee deep in scripture,
(although He does speak to me here),
not while sitting on a pew
(although He does speak to me here),
not while crying out in desperation
(although He does speak to me here),
not while I am looking for Him
(although He does speak to me here).

No,
more times than not,
when I'm completely lost in my own little world,
not focused on my Abba Father at all,
love gifts for my heart
that are undeniably from Him,
and all about me,
are placed smack dab in front of me.

And,
maybe,
because these precious gifts come
at a moment when I'm not looking at all,
they bring with them,
each and every time,
an even deeper awareness of our God
who is ever
intimately,
actively,
tenderly,
purposefully,
intentionally,
lovingly
present in our life.

Such was the case one day
while I was mindlessly scrolling
through my Instagram feed.

God showed up in the most beautiful place,
unveiling desperately needed truth
in the most precious of words:

"Like Lazarus,
we've all had our brush with death,
a moment or two when
the light was eclipsed
by a terrible dark.
We know what it's like to
feel the breath squeezed out of us
by hard relationships,
tough circumstances,
unexpected events.
And although we might push through
to the other side,
it often takes us more than a minute
to adjust our eyes from dark
to the light."
~Michele Cushatt

As my heart reached out
to grab hold of each and every word,
I realized I was doing so
through squinty eyes -
eyes that have not yet
fully adjusted to the light
of this new season
where I now find myself.

Like this morning -
with news of the pandemic
making its way
from video of far away places
to the next state over,
and now indeed,
the next city over,
new, never-before felt
feelings of grief
sprung up from deep inside.

And what was most
surprising of all,
beyond the fact
that - here -
four years later,
grief still washes over me,
sometimes with the intensity
of the waves of grief
I experienced early on -
was the emotion
this wave stirred up:
anger.

I've heard it said
anger is one of the
"normal" stages of grief,
but honestly,
before today,
I haven't really come
face to face with it.

But today,
the anger was strong.
And the face of the one
I saw in my anger,
the face of the one
my heart was mad at,
was that of my husband.

Only instantly -
as soon as the anger came,
as soon as I realized my man
was the one my anger was directed at and to,
I tried to squelch the emotion
before it came full blown out and out -
anger.

Not that the anger didn't seemed justified,
because my broken heart
certainly thought it was,
not that the anger wasn't a "normal" grief emotion
because like I said,
I've read enough
and been told enough
to know that it is,
but simply because
if I let this emotion run free,
if I let myself get mad at my man,
how would I ever be able
to apologize to him
and make it right again?

The conversation
I heard myself
having with myself
went something like this:

ME:
How could you, Handsome?
How could you leave me alone
after promising to be here
to take care of me?

Also Me:
Take it easy.  Don't be angry.
Yes, He promised,
AND he kept that promise.
The promise was only until
death do you part.

ME:
Yes, but Handsome -
you always said you would be here
when things got crazy.
That's why I married you.
(Well, ok - that's not the only reason,
but it was on the list!)
You know how to hunt and gather.
You know how to survive in the woods.
You know these mountains
better than our city streets.

Also ME:
Really, Stac?! C'mon, girl.
Yes, yes, yes to all of that,
but if he was here
you know what he would say.
"Look to the mountain maker, Beautiful.
That's where your help comes from."
C'mon, don't get angry.
Keep the peace between you.

(Honestly, that line there -
I have no doubt
was the Holy Spirit speaking.
Over the 25 years of being
with my man,
I had heard that very line
spoken to my heart
time and time again
in the heat of a "disagreement".)

ME:
You're right.
I know you're right.
I don't want to be angry.
I don't want to be mad.
I think I'm simply feeling fear
and that vulnerable feeling of being just one
after so many years
of being a mighty, unstoppable force of two.

Also ME:
I get that.
But again,
you know what he would say.
"Look to the mountain maker, Beautiful.
That's where your help comes from."
It's where he got
his strength,
his wisdom,
his peace.
It's where you get yours, too.
With God, you are
never, ever just one.
Don't be angry.
Look to God.

And the treasure of this moment -
this moment when God spoke
and I wasn't even looking,
was this:

It was more than ok
that I was
fighting the waves,
the unexpected,
don't see them coming
until they hit you
waves of grief -
still.

It was more than ok
that I was
feeling a sense
of fear and vulnerability
trying to transition
back to one
after so long having been
a mighty, unstoppable force of two -
still.

It was ok,
if the light
from this new season,
had me looking out at life
with squinty eyes,
trying to adjust
and see clearly -
still.

It was all ok,
as long as -
(and this is HUGE)
as long as my eyes
never lost sight of my God
in the midst of it all.

As long as
my eyes were fixed on my God -
still.

Yes,
more times than not,
when I'm completely lost in my own little world,
not focused on my Abba Father at all,
love gifts for my heart
that are undeniably from Him,
and all about me,
are placed smack dab in front of me.

This -
a precious gift, indeed.



~Stacy




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Saturday, March 14, 2020

On Fear, Crayons, and the REALity of it All~

"Joshua, it's ok, now. You can take your fingers out of your ears."

Several years ago, I was given the awesome privilege of serving as a Nanny for a wonderful young couple who had been blessed with three small boys. One son attended a Christian preschool in the mornings. One day, when I arrived around noon to pick him up, I walked in on this conversation between his teacher and one of his fellow classmates.

Noticing I had entered the room, the teacher shared with me that the school fire alarm had been malfunctioning, sounding numerous times over the course of the morning. It was obvious by the look on Joshua's face, and of course the fingers in his ears, that the alarm was getting to him.

"Joshua. Finish coloring your picture, Honey."

Joshua, who had no intention of using his fingers for anything other than preventing the loud, shrill sound of the alarm from penetrating his small ears again, just sat there.

"Really, it's ok, Buddy. I think the men have fixed the problem. I don't think we will hear it anymore today."

"But what if there's a fire?" he asked.

"Honey, the fire alarm isn't going off because there is a fire in our school. It's just not working right today. It's ok, though, because there are some men here fixing it. There is no fire. Our school is fine. "

"But what if there IS a fire?" he asked again.

"Well then, we will simply do what we did earlier today when the alarm went off and we practiced our safety drill. We will go outside where we will be safe. It's ok, Joshua. There is nothing to worry about. Finish your picture, Sweetheart."

Still, Joshua sat totally immobilized by the fear which had gripped his heart.

"I don't want to die in the fire!!!" he finally screamed.

Walking over to Joshua and gently taking his fingers out of his ears, the teacher knelt down beside this scared little three year old and looked him right in the eye.

"Don't worry, Joshua. I'm right here. I promise I won't let anything happen to you. I'll take care of you, Joshua. I promise. Teacher is right here with you."

For the first time since I had entered the room, a look of peace flooded Joshua's face. It was ok. He didn't need to worry. Teacher was here and she would take care of him. He was safe because she was right here with him. Joshua reached for his blue crayon. Soon, he was back to work coloring his picture and sharing in conversation and laughter with his classmates.

As I'd witnessed this scene, I'd realized I am a lot like Joshua. I have a tendency to let the cares and worries of this world grip my heart, leaving me paralyzed in fear, unable to enjoy all that is going on around me. I become consumed with fear and allow it to steal the life (not to mention the joy) right out of me.

As I watched Joshua, I was reminded of a acronym I once heard for the word fear:

F - false

E- evidence

A- appearing

R - real

This was certainly the case with Joshua. Joshua was fearful of a fire that didn't exist. I, too, am fearful of things that probably don't exist either, or most likely will never even happen. Yet, even though what I fear is not usually real, the fear itself most definitely is!

Maybe you are like Joshua and me. Maybe you also struggle with fear. If so, how can you and I learn to escape this fear, once and for all, and live in the freedom and abundance of life that Christ wants us so desperately to experience?

It's quite simple, really. Joshua found his peace when he realized his teacher was right there with him and would take care of him. We can partake of this same peace by keeping our heart and mind fixed on our Heavenly Father, who promises to never leave us, nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) Even more than this teacher could ever hope to be there for Joshua, our God IS there for us. We don't have to fear ANYTHING in this life, because our Father is with us.

I have heard it said that the phrase "Fear Not" is found 365 times in the Bible. 365 times! That is one time for each day of the year or each day of our life. Obviously, God wants us to live a life free of fear.

Fear tries to take us prisoner, causing us to think irrationally and respond unwisely. We need to remember that most fear comes from Satan. The Bible tells us that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but rather one of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) Only when we choose to keep our focus on Christ, knowing and believing that He is always with us, will we be free from the torment of fear. As we rely on Him to take care of us and to work all things out for our good and His glory, we will be able to let go of fear and instead take hold of the power, love and sound mind freely available to us through Christ.

The choice is up to us. We can either choose to sit around with our fingers stuck in our ears, fearful of what might happen, all the while missing out on what IS happening, or we can rest in the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father, embracing and thoroughly enjoying each and every minute of our life

Now..... where did I leave my crayon?






~Stacy