Saturday, August 20, 2016

When We are Blind to What Matters Most~

As her words tumble into one conversation after another,
I know she isn't even aware she has said what she has said
and it makes my heart hurt,
for hers.

For without even thinking about it,
without even realizing it,
she has,
through the words she has spoken,
given me a window's view into her heart.

"What you say flows from what is in your heart."
~Luke 6:45

Words of prejudice.
Words of judgment.
Words of pride and arrogance.

Words that
make my stomach flip,
momentarily steal my breath,
and bring an uneasiness to my spirit.

Words that now have me writing words of my own.
Not because I want to.
Not because I am not guilty of this sometimes, too.
Not because I am one bit comfortable in doing so.
But, because God won't let me rest until I do.

Who are we to class everyone into a group
and then flippantly reply,
"a typical . . . "?

Who are we to use assumed financial success or assumed financial failure
as a measuring stick of someone's worth or value?

Who are we to somehow feel as though our hidden sins
are any less sinful than-the-can't-help-but-be-seen sins of others?

Who are we to ever think we are somehow more?

More saved.
More accepted.
More valuable.
More, period.

We are all the same.
We all struggle with the same kind of different - sin.

We are all despicable.
We are all vile.
We are all sinners.

And yet, the ones least likely to see this
are the ones who can't see their own shortcomings
for focusing on the shortcomings of those around them.

The only thing worse than being despicable
is not being able to see it.

The only thing worse than being prideful and arrogant
is not being able to see it.

The only thing worse than being a sinner
is not being able to see it.

Because,
until we see it,
until we are heart-breakingly, sin-confessingly, tear-producing repentingly aware of
our own need,
we won't cry out to our Saviour.

Until we can see
the truth of who we are,
we will not seek the one who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Until we get our eyes off of them
and stare honestly at our self,
we will never see
what others around us can see
as they follow our words (and attitudes) through the window view into our heart.

We will never see us.









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Monday, August 15, 2016

Not Highly Visible, Yet Extremely Necessary~

I marvel at his wisdom,
and his intentional choice of words.

The two combined always find me jotting down phrases
to ponder again and again,
long after his words have been spoken.

Most recently the phrase rolling around and around in my heart and mind is this:
"Not highly visible, yet extremely necessary."

We were in a staff meeting at the church where I am employed. The topic of discussion - the new heating and cooling system currently being installed.  It's been a lengthy, hot, process to say the least, especially since we have been without air conditioning the entire summer.

As the pastor launched into this subject, he asked our facilities manager to give a report on the progress, as well as the current work being done.

Pencil in hand, I knew there would be a gem waiting to be mined as this humble, wise man began to speak.

He explained all of the old system had been completely removed, and now workers were replacing the electrical system.

"It's not highly visible, yet extremely necessary."

I'm sure as he walked us further through the progress there were more gems spoken, but honestly, I never got beyond this one phrase to hear what else he was saying.

Over and over again these words replayed in my mind.

Over and over,
situation after situation,
circumstance after circumstance,
I could see where these words fit
into the puzzle pieces that are
coming together to reveal my life.

So many situations and times in my life
when it seemed,
at the time,
things weren't progressing as fast I thought they should,
or not even progressing at all,
now came into focus.

Moment after moment
of days, and weeks, and months
when it seemed,
at the time,
God was not responding,
not listening,
not answering,
flashed through my mind.

Not highly visible, yet extremely necessary.

Sitting around the table that morning,
I realized anew:
God is always at work.

Sometimes it's highly visible,
and sometimes it's not.

Sometimes it is more than obvious what God is doing,
and sometimes it is not one bit noticeable.

Sometimes we see the work of His hand,
and sometimes we don't.

Just because we don't see it,
doesn't mean
it isn't happening.

Just because it isn't highly visible,
doesn't mean what God is doing
isn't extremely necessary.

Just because we can't discern it
it doesn't mean
that God isn't working,
that progress isn't taking place,
that mountains aren't moving,
that prayers aren't being answered,
that miracles aren't in the making.

Evidently,
sometimes,
what we can't see,
is just as important as what we can.










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Thursday, August 11, 2016

When We is Better Than Me~

I sit in the background,
just watching and observing,
and seeing more of myself than I would like to admit.

As my sister lives out her days
mothering her two children,
I can't help but catch glimpses of me in her 18 month old.

Knowing he desperately wants something,
but not at all sure of what it is,
he pushes away her attempts to
step in and help.

As he falls to the ground
in a puddle of frustration
she reaches down to
rub his back and bring comfort,
or take his hand
and gently help him back up,
only he will have none of it.

With tears streaming from his eyes
and cries that can be heard a mile away,
he slings his arm around
as if to say "No! No! No!"

Every one watching,
even his 9 year old brother,
can see he is refusing what he wants the most -
comfort,
help,
the ability to do what he cannot do on his own.

And, it is in this moment I see me:

Sitting in the middle of the floor of life,
not at all sure of what I want,
tears streaming down my face,
my cries of sorrow and frustration loud enough to be heard a mile away,
slinging my arm around
as if to say "No! No! No!"

And, I see those around me
and my precious Heavenly Father, too,
trying so desperately
to help,
to comfort,
to offer their assistance
in any form or any way that I might need,
and yet,
I refuse to
reach out and receive it.

And, I have a feeling,
as you are sitting in the background,
reading these words unfold upon your screen,
you might be seeing more of yourself than you would like to admit.

It's a common problem,
this need for independence that leaves us completely undone,
rolling miserably around in the middle of our completely dependent lives.

For how can we who were created
ever hope to do life alone
without our Creator?

How can we who have
need upon need,
hurt upon hurt,
frailty upon frailty,
ever hope to be
completely full,
completely healed,
completely whole
all. on. our. own?

As my sister scoops down
and picks up my nephew
in one quick move,
he eventually settles into the
comfort found in her embrace,
the strength undergirding his own,
the closeness of being held,
and peace returns.

Maybe it's time
I let others help me.

May it's time
I let God hold me.

Maybe it's time
you did, too.








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Sunday, August 7, 2016

When Happiness Looks More Like Holiness~

Once upon a time my husband and I attended a memorial service for darling elderly couple.

The wife's health had started to fail first. Hip surgeries, along with dementia, had left her feeble and in a nursing home. Faithfully, her husband was at her side each and every day until he was stricken with an aggressive form of cancer. Within a few months, the love of her life was gone. In her weakened state of mind, her heart couldn't understand why he had stopped coming to visit her.

Not a day went by that she didn't ask for him by name, crying out until she was hoarse and could speak no more. Desperately longing for the man who had stolen her heart, she would grab the arm of a son or daughter sitting near her and spell out his name in the palm of their hand. His name was cradled by her final breath. Five weeks to the day of her husband's death, she passed away. His death came as an unexpected surprise. Hers did not. They had been Mr. and Mrs. for 64 years.




Marriage -


a union between a man and a wife.

two becoming one flesh,

sharing the same name,

the same bed,

the same life.



Today, my husband and I are celebrating fifteen years of marital bliss. A far cry from 64, but a good start none the less. On that memorable day when I said "I DO", I have to admit, the vision I had in mind was happily ever after {emphasis on happily}. Now, fifteen years later, I am starting to see God's vision is so far beyond this.

Within the marriage experience,{adventure, journey, roller coaster ride, whatever words you might choose to use!} God desires to make us more holy. Amazingly, one of the tools he uses is...

wait for it

...submission.

For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 
~Ephesians 5:22

True biblical submission is not meant to be scary, demeaning, or degrading. God, himself, established this principle and designed it to be something for wives to embrace. After all, submission is not meant to place us "below" or "beneath" our husband. Beautifully, submission places us under; under the care, protection and leadership of our man. The husband is the one called by God to bear the responsibility of the family. We, as wives, get to “rest” in his authority.

But, as wonderful as resting in our man sounds, we know all too well that submitting does not come easily or naturally. Submission is a choice of the will. We have to intentionally choose to do it. I think God wired us that way on purpose.

It is in choosing to submit that we discover the inner strength of the Holy Spirit enabling us and empowering us to submit and do as He commands.

It is in choosing to submit that we develop trust both in our husband and in our God.

It is in choosing to submit that we are able to show our husband respect and draw him into a deeper love relationship with us.

It is in choosing to submit that our true God-graced beauty as a woman is showcased and revealed.

This is how the holy women of the past used to make themselves beautiful. 
They put their hope in God. And they followed the lead of their own husbands. 
~1 Peter 3:5, NIRV

As the memorial service drew to a close, the family showed a video of this special couple. It had been made four years earlier in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary. As I watched their journey through life together, I felt a longing in my heart. A longing to have what they had. A true, abiding love.

It was obvious from the photos (and from cherished moments in the company of this sweet couple) this wife had accepted and embraced the authority of her husband.

One look at him, looking at her, told you this groom only saw beautiful when he looked upon his bride.

In her husband and his leadership and guidance,
this dear, spiritually wise lady had found security, love and a restful abiding.

In his wife and her submissive, respectful, Christ-like demeanor,
this strong, independent, "self-made" man had found...

wait for it

...the Lord.

Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. 
Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the word, 
they may be won without a word by their wives’ way of life. 
After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives. 
~ 1 Peter 3:1-2, CEB

Holy?

When I got married I never saw that coming. But, I should have. True marriage isn't about my husband making me happy (although he does!) It isn't about me making my husband happy (although it helps when I do!). It is about the two of us living our lives together in a way that glorifies God and makes God happy.

What could bring more happiness than that!?


(Thanking God especially day - on what would have been our 16th anniversary - and celebrating our marriage and the beautiful ways it drew me closer to my God and to my man.)






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Monday, August 1, 2016

Ever Miss A Blessing?~









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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Let Him Work~

Her words hit hard and heavy,
completely saturated with the Holy Spirit.

I had posted a post on my Heartprints of God Facebook page
only to remove it a few minutes later.

Choosing to work instead on a photograph,
I was tapped on the shoulder
by an alert notification
signaling I had received a message
on my Heartprints of God page.

The message was simply this:
Why did you remove your post?

I sat there speechless,
staring at the screen
and that three letter word,
why.

And, I knew in my heart,
as soon as my eyes glided over the very first word,
this question was being asked of me
by more than this curious Facebook friend,
it was being asked of me
by the Holy Spirit.

Why, Stacy?
Why
when I spoke these words to your heart
and prompted your heart to post it,
why
did you remove it?

I didn't have a good answer for this friend,
and I certainly didn't have a good answer for the Holy Spirit.

A few moments later,
my response back to both was simply this:
A moment of "insecurity" maybe?

A moment or two later,
I felt the chastisement of the Holy Spirit again in her words:
Don't deny us your gift of words God gave you.

It was a sting unlike any I have ever felt,
a rebuke and scolding to be sure,
but it was also chastisement in its most purest form.

For chastisement from the Lord
has one purpose in mind:
restoration.

Chastisement from the Lord is discipline with a purpose -
to turn our hearts towards obedience
so God can in turn turn our obedience into restoration,
a restoration that will in turn position us to fulfill our God-given destiny.

God has gifted me to write.
This is not something I have decided,
this is something God decided before I took my first breath.

And, I'm learning, too,
God has graced me to speak.
This, too, is not something I have decided,
this, too, is something God decided before I took my first breath.

For me to doubt His gift,
for me to choose to ignore His prompting to
share His words,
to tell His story through the living out of my own,
to remove a post He has told me to post -
is disobedience.

My God given gifts are not for me to do with as I choose,
but as He chooses.

My only appropriate response
now and always
is "yes, Lord."

And I am reminded once again.

Like a tool in the hand of a master,
the success of the mission is not dependent on us,
but on the Master.

It is not up to the tool to tell the Master what to do.
The successful completion of the task at hand
belongs totally and completely to the Master.

Like the tool,
our only responsibility is to be available,
to be willing to be used by The Master
whenever and however
He sees fit.

We are simply a vessel in His hand.

We can't worry about how God will work through us,
we just need to let God work.

We don't need to carry the weight of the mission
on our shoulders.
we just need to let God carry us through it.

We don't need to ponder and fret over and over
about what we think should be done or not done,
we just need to let God do what needs to be done.

It's not about me.
(It's not about you, either.)

We are simply a tool in the Hand of God.

He, and He alone, is the Master.

We simply need to let Him work.









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Thursday, July 21, 2016

When God Smiles~

God must have been sitting on the edge of Heaven just waiting for this moment.

He who delights in our delight
and who promises to give us the desire of our heart,
must have been ready to burst!

As I was organizing the items I will be taking with me to a speaking engagement this weekend, I reached for the same bag I used the last time I spoke.

Not surprisingly, (especially if you know me) when I opened it up and peered inside, I discovered it was still home to old notes, pencils, pens, tissue, and several different note pads. As I reached in and started pulling the old out so I could make room for the new, I found the most amazing treasure.

A note.

Not just any note.

A note from my Handsome Honey.


Not just any note from my Handsome Honey,
but a note he had lovingly (and sneakily) tucked into this very bag
two years ago
when I was heading to the mountains to speak  -
for the very first time,
at the very first women's retreat I had ever had the privilege to attend,
much less the honor of speaking at!




Moments before making this God-orchestrated discovery,
I had been on my knees,
leaning into the recliner where my husband always sat,
my head resting where his lap was supposed to be,
longing to hear his voice,
wanting so much to hold his hand,
and wishing I could look into his face.

As tears ran down my cheeks,
I wished for what quite possibly could be the millionth time
that he was here,
that he could speak words of encouragement,
that he could pray with me, pray over me, and pray me through.

After a few moments,
when I had cried my tears dry,
I surrendered for what quite possibly could be the millionth time
this second-guessing God's plan,
this wanting so desperately for my man to be present here,
this desperate desire to undo what God himself had so mercifully done.

As God's Spirit tenderly, yet powerfully, infused my inner man with strength,
I  headed to the bedroom to pack.

That's when it had happened.

That's when I had made this discovery.

And, I can't help thinking,
that when I did,
God, himself,
smiled a smile so big
all of Heaven must have seen it.

It wasn't my man,
but it was his words,
and having this to hold in my hand
was the next best thing to him being here.

And, I thought about how
so many times,
even before losing my husband,
I have been homesick for Heaven,
Not so much the place,
but for The One who makes Heaven, well - Heaven.

How,
when my heart longs to be near Him,
to reach out and hold His nail-scarred hands,
and climb up into His lap of love,
I do
what I can only do
this side of Heaven.

I reach for my Bible.
I reach for His love letter to me.
I reach for His words,
and having this to hold in my hand
and tuck into my heart,
is the next best thing to being face to face with my Abba Daddy.

And, I can't help thinking,
that every time I do,
reach for by Bible, that is,
or spend time in prayer with the Lover of my soul,
God, himself,
smiles a smile so big
all of Heaven must surely see it.






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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Until You Have~

I stood in the back of the wooden chapel.

It was the last worship service
of a week long full
of worship services and mountaintop experiences
at a Christian camp for 4th-6th graders.

When this worship service was over,
so was camp.
When we bowed our heads and said our final "amen"
we would all be loading into vans
and heading back home -
to wherever and whatever home might be.

For the last six years,
when the last day of camp was over,
my heart would be a little hesitant to come down off the mountain
and step back into the normal routine of life again.
Always, though, the joy and excitement of returning home,
of seeing my Handsome Honey,
and sleeping in our bed,
and sharing once again in the living of our life
balanced out the longing of wanting to stay on the mountain.

Not this year.

This year when I arrived home there would be
no one to greet me.
No one to ask about my week.
No one to hug and hold.
No one to listen to me re-tell story after story of God's moving on the mountain.

Only an empty house
and the unwelcome reality
that this year was not the same as years past and never would be the same again
would be there to welcome me home.

And, the thought of not having home to return home to
swelled up inside me so fast and so furious
I had to step outside of the chapel into the expanse of mountain air
just to find my next breath.

And, then the tears came -
SO many tears.

Tears for me, yes.
But honestly, this time -
tears for them, too.

For the children who had to leave this taste of heaven on earth
and return to a world that was not so pleasant -
to a place where they experienced unrest, turmoil, bullying, or fear.

Each year before,
as we made our way out of the chapel and towards the van,
I had seen tears in the eyes of some of the children.

As we would drive the road that wound us through the mountains
and led us back to our hometown,
I would pray for God to give me the words to comfort these children,
to help ease them back into the world that was their every day.

But, you don't truly understand what another is
feeling,
experiencing,
dreading,
until you have.

Knowing this year would be no different than years past for some of the children,
I made my way down the hill from the chapel
straight to the office of a precious, precious friend.
As soon as I saw her face,
I broke apart and again,
the tears came -
SO many tears.

And, she held me.
And, she held me some more.
And I cried for all of us -
for me,
for them,
for our broken world.

After the tears subsided -
this beautiful woman of God prayed for all of us -
for me,
for them,
for our broken world.

No, you don't truly understand what another is
feeling,
experiencing,
dreading,
until you have.

But, once you have -
ah, once you have . . .

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.  He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (Voice)

This time,
unlike any other time off the mountain before,
I was in their shoes.

This time,
unlike any other time off the mountain before,
I truly understood.

And this time,
unlike any other time off the mountain before,
I felt the God of all comfort,
surrounding me
as I in turn,
prayed and spoke words of His comfort to surround them.

And I discovered anew,
you can't tuly feel
the peace that passes understanding,
the comfort that comes from the Great Comforter,
the presence of God Himself,
until you have.

But, once you have,
you are able to give it to someone else.

And I realized once again,
that no matter how I may be feeling,
our God is bigger,
and our God is always with us.

The same God who was on the mountaintop
would come down from the mountain with us.
The same God who we felt among us
as we were among the tall pines,
would be among us below in the desert,
because our God
has chosen to make His home
inside us.

He would be with us.

His presence with us
didn't end once we climbed inside the church van
and buckled our seat belts.

No, His presence
would climb in with us
and follow us home.









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