Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Heavenly Invitation~

As I sat in a small room, 
waiting to be seen 
by a doctor, 
I could see the elderly gentleman 
sitting in a small room, 
waiting to be seen 
by a doctor, 
across the hall from me. 

His eyes, dim. 
His head, hung low. 
His spirit, weak. 

His eyes met mine, 
and when they did, 
I smiled. 
In his weakened conditioned, 
he smiled back, 
but only with his eyes.

As I turned my gaze 

to the bare white walls,
I heard the voice 
of another patient, 
sitting in a small room, 
being seen 
by the doctor, 
down the hall from me. 

The conversation,
not mine to hear,
drifted into my heart 
anyway. 
His progress, slow.
His diagnosis, dismal.

I looked up at the ceiling, 

and soon found myself 
listening in on 
one-sided phone conversation.

A lady, 
sitting in a small room, 
waiting to be seen 
by a doctor, 
next door to me, 
was checking in on her child. 

Left home alone, 
this mother's heart was there 
with her child 
as she sat on the other side 
of the wall from me.

And right then and there,             

Photo Credit
God showed me 
why I was here, 
in this small room, 
waiting to be seen 
by a doctor.

I was here 
for him, 
and him, 
and her. 

I was here 
for every single person who, 
today, tomorrow,
or all the days after,
will find his or herself 
sitting in one of these small rooms. 

I was here to intercede on their behalf. 

I was sitting in this room, 
so that while I 
was waiting to be seen 
by a doctor, 
I could lift these precious people 
up to 
the Great Physician
who is always and forever 
sitting on the right hand of God 
waiting to hear 
and answer our petitions.

This wasn't about me.
It was about them.


This wasn't simply 

a routine doctor appointment.
This was a heavenly invitation, 

a divine appointment. 

One, 

of God only knows how many,
given to you and me 

each and every single day 
of our life.

May our eyes, see.

May our ears, hear.
May our hearts, respond.
May our spirit, intercede.

Each and every time 

God places a heavenly invitation,
a divine appointment in our midst,
may we never fail 

to accomplish His mission.~♥





~Stacy



Sunday, December 9, 2018

The True Desires of our Heart~



All we could ever imagine, could ever hope for, He is… 
He is the Prince of Peace whose first coming has already transformed society 
but whose second coming will forever establish justice and righteousness. 
All this, and infinitely more, alive in an impoverished baby in a barn. 
That is what Christmas means – 
to find in a place where you would least expect to find anything you want, 
everything you could ever want.
~ Michael Card

Several years ago,
when God opened the door for me
to be a nanny to a family
with three young boys,
I was looking through a Christmas catalog
with my four-year old friend.

As he turned each page,
he would excitedly point
to several pictures and exclaim,
“Oh, I want that! And look, Stacy!
I want that, too! And, that! Oh, wow!”

No wonder this catalog
is so often referred to
as a “wish book”.
This youngster was wishing
with all of his heart.

With each page turned,
his voice grew louder
and his excitement uncontainable.
We finally reached the last page
and to my companion’s surprise,
I was now the one voicing a wish.

“Oh look, Walt!
A pink Barbie Mustang convertible!!!!!
That’s what I want for Christmas!”

“Stac”, came his quick reply,
“We have a problem.
I’M not Santa!”

He was right, of course.
He definitely wasn’t Santa.
But, then again…
neither is God.

As Walt and I sat on the couch,
perusing the Christmas catalog,
we weren’t thinking about Santa.
We were only thinking about
our wants and wishes.

The only reason Santa
had been brought
into the living room that day
by way of our conversation
was because Santa was the one
Walt was counting on
to fulfill all his wishes.
Sadly, Walt’s thoughts of Santa
had nothing to do with Santa at all
and everything to do
with what Santa could give him.

I have a feeling
I don’t need to type
another word.

Like me,
you can already hear the Spirit of God
whispering to your heart.

Traditional Stalker Santa
{Photo Credit}
So often,
we treat God as though
He were Santa.

The only time we think of Him
is when we are in need (or want!).
Our thoughts turn to God
when we are hoping He
will be the one
to fulfill our desire.

Our focus becomes consumed with
the blessing,
the healing,
the answer,
the need,
and not the Giver of all good gifts.

We come seeking
His hand,
the gifts He can give,
not His face,
not who He is.


Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart
.
~Psalm 37:4


Desires.
You and I have plenty of desires,
but are these “desires”
really what our heart
is desperately seeking?

Are they really what will make us happy
or fill the void deep down
in the innermost part of our being?

Will they bring lasting joy and happiness?

Walt didn’t need anything from that catalog
and I certainly didn’t need
a pink Barbie mustang convertible.

We only thought we did.

No doubt, these things would have
brought us some happiness,
for a moment at least,
but before long,
Walt and I would have found ourselves
thumbing our way through yet another catalog
in search of new “desires”.

When we delight our self in the Lord
and love Him for who HE IS,
and not what we can get from Him,
something truly miraculous happens.

As we seek Him and learn of His ways, 
we start to discover 
what we have been searching for all along.

The more His face comes into focus,
the more our desires,
the true desires of our heart,
come into focus, too.

We discover ALL WE NEED
and ALL WE WANT
are found in Jesus.

He becomes our EVERYTHING.

As we turn the pages of His Word,
we find our self
getting more and more excited
with each new revelation
of His character.

Each page finds us shouting,
“Look! I want to be like that!
Oh, and, look! I want to shine like that!
Wow! Take a look at that!
That’s what I want in my life.
I want to be just like YOU, Lord!”

And guess what?

Jesus,
in His awesome love,
wondrous mercy,
and amazing grace,
grants us the desires of our heart.

As we seek His face,
our entire life,
our entire being
is filled to overflowing with HIM.

He’s not Santa,
and I am so glad He isn’t.

He is SO MUCH MORE.

He is our ALL in ALL!

He is the true desire of our heart.~

Heavenly Father, 
Thank you for loving us the way that you do. You know us inside out, backwards and forwards. You know what we truly need. Help us to turn our eyes upon you. Help us to gaze upon your wondrous face. Let us not seek you for selfish gain, but rather may we seek you to gain our real identity in you, through the real desires of our heart. As we turn the pages of your Word, may we always be filled with excitement and wonder at who you are. May our desire always be…to be just like you. In Jesus’ name, Amen~




~Stacy


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Serving Up Hope~

One morning,
several years ago now,
I found myself
ordering a cup of coffee for me
and serving up some hope
for the barista taking my order.

The conversation had started simple enough
with a traditional,
“Good Morning, How are you?”
His answer, however,
was anything but the usual
"Fine. How are you?"

"I honestly don't know," he said.
"Getting out of bed every morning
is getting harder and harder to do.
There just doesn't seem to be anything
to get up for, you know?
Would you like that coffee
with non-fat or skim?"

"Non-fat will be perfect".

While he turned his back
and began his job
of whipping me up a hot drink,
I turned my heart upward
and began my job
of interceding and bringing this young man
before the throne of grace.

"Here you go, Ma’am.
Is there anything else
I can get for you."

"No, thank you, but I have something
I'd like to give you."

Then, as I opened my mouth,
God was faithful to speak.

"The next birthday I celebrate
will find me
saying goodbye to my forties
and hello to fifty.
Sadly, for most of my life,
I felt just like you.

The thought of getting up
and going out into a new day
wasn't very appealing.

Fear, insecurity and hopelessness
were my constant companions
and life was a struggle;
something to survive, to get through."

He nodded his head,
and put down the towel in his hand.

It was obvious
God had his attention.

"I know exactly what you mean.
I don't know," he said
as he shook his head,
"there just has to be more to life than this.
This can't be all there is."

"You're right,"  I smiled.
"There is more to life than this.....
SO much more.
Want to know what changed everything
around for me?"

His mouth didn't respond,
but his eyes did.

"God".

He shifted his weight
from one leg to another
and I could tell
this wasn't the answer
he was hoping for,
and yet I knew 
it was the only answer 
that would ever offer him hope.

"God changed everything for me.
When I began to seek Him,
He showed up
and He has totally changed both
my outlook
and my inlook.

He's given me hope.
He's given me a reason
to get up each morning.
He's made life worth living."

"I don't know.”
He was shaking his head again
and rubbing his forehead.
"There is just so much
sadness and heartache.
It seems like everywhere,
lives are falling apart.
Where is the good in that?"

"The world is full
of pain and sorrow,
but that's exactly why
Jesus came.

He came to heal a broken world.
And while the brokenness
in this earthly world
will always be,
God has come to dwell among us,
sending His Holy Spirit
to live within us
to fill us
with His peace, joy, love and hope
in the midst of the
chaos and the brokenness.

With Christ,
we are never alone.

He is with us,
and He will help us,
and believe me,
He makes ALL the difference."

A customer drove up behind me
and I knew this conversation
was near an end.

"I've lived life both ways -
with God, and without.
For me, life with God has been
so much better and so much more.

If you don't have hope,
you don't have anything,
But, if you have hope,
hope in Christ,
you have it all.
And, speaking from experience,
I know hope in Christ
does not disappoint.
He'll never let you down."

I put my car in gear
and gave him one last smile.

"Thanks for the coffee."

He smiled back,
nodded is head,
and said "Hope, huh?"

"Gotta have it,"  I said,
as I slowly started to drive away,
"and God is the perfect place to find it."





~Stacy

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Not Once~

Even though,
over the past two years -
my face has quite frequently
resembled my face in this photo
from so many years ago,
(I’m the little one on the right)
my heart is still overwhelmed
by the kindness, goodness,
gentleness, and faithfulness
of my Abba Father.


I have no doubt -
if I would have been sitting
on Jesus' lap in this photo instead, -
my expression would have been one
of peace, love, joy and happiness
(even without all the candy canes!).

Because what I know is this:

Some of the most precious moments
of the past two years have been,
when -
with my face looking just like this -
I have drawn near to my Abba Father
and found what my heart needed most.

When -
I have sought Him
for answers, direction,
wisdom, understanding and courage
and found The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

When -
I have fallen helpless from my weakness
into His strength
and found myself
uplifted, safe, secure, and able.

When -
I have run to Him so scared
and so overcome with "lonely"
and found myself held,
oh so very tight
by His embrace,
and completely wrapped up in His comfort.

When -
I have climbed up into His love
so empty, so undone, so broken,
and found Him to be MORE THAN ENOUGH.

He is the true treasure of Christmas,
but much more than this, -

He is the friend
who sticks closer than a brother,

He is the one
who never leaves us or forsakes us,

He is the one who
understands when no one else does,

He is the Lover of our soul -
always and forever.

Yes, I came to my Abba Father
so many times
with my face looking just like this
these past two years,
but praise God,
not once -
after spending time with Him, 
did I leave the same way I had come.




~Stacy

Sunday, December 2, 2018

When Happy and Joyful Are Hard to Find~

December is supposed to be 
a happy month, right? 
The Christmas season, joyful. 

But, what happens when 
happy and joyful 
decide to fly south for the winter? 

What do you do 
when heartache and grief 
consume your heart 
and tears, not smiles,
are seen on your face?

This was me, several Decembers ago. 

And, truth be told, 
this is still me in so many ways 
(yet for so many different reasons) 
now. 

If this is you, this December - 
read on my friend. 
Read on:

************

While others have been decking the halls,
baking sugar cookies,
hanging stockings,
and writing out Christmas cards,
I have been grappling to hold onto 
the joy that is synonymous 
with this blessed season.

On December 17, my precious friend Ruthie passed away, 
leaving behind two children.

The very next day my little dog, Sally, 
who has been in my life for over fifteen years
became ill and then passed away 
two days later.

Tucked between these two deaths was
my birthday and the anniversary 
of my father's death, nine years ago. 
(Yes - my precious daddy passed away 
in the late night hours of my birthday.)

Laughter has been hard to find 
and tears, a constant companion.

And yet,
in the midst of it all,
I have come to understand, 
as never before,
the priceless treasure we were given
that night in Bethlehem 
so long ago.

That tiny babe - 
God's own son -
left the splendor of Heaven 
to come to a world 
that despised and rejected Him.

That tiny little one - 
wrapped in swaddling clothes - 
the Son of man,
was born to die, 
conquering death once and for all.

The Baby Jesus, - 
Immanuel, God with us,
entered our world,
so that one day,
we could enter His:
A world where there is 
no sorrow or crying, 
no sickness or death.

The joy of Christmas isn't contained 
to the manger.
It extends all the way to Calvary.

Death is the very reason Christ came.

Christmas reminds us sin has a cost
and God has a love that knows no limit. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16)

The promise of a Deliverer -
the love of a God 
who would send His own Son -
the blessed HOPE we have
in and through Christ Jesus our Lord -
this is the JOY of Christmas.

This is what keeps us wiping our tears 
 while all the while singing
"Joy to the world the Lord has come".

This is the hope I cling to, 
even when my heart is broken.

And, this is the hope you can cling to, too.~♥



~Stacy

Friday, November 30, 2018

Because of Jesus~

Maybe, 
it was because the messenger was 
an angel.

Maybe, 
it was because the message was beyond all human comprehension.

Maybe, 
it was both.

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
~Luke 1:30-32

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
~Luke 2:10

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
~Matthew 28:5-6

Mary.

The shepherds.

The women at the empty tomb.

All, greeted with the words
"Do not be afraid".

As I ponder these three particular angelic encounters, I see something I've never noticed before.

There it is -
in each heavenly message,
the gift of salvation.

Conception.
Birth.
Death and resurrection.

Maybe, 
it was because the messenger was 
an angel.

Maybe, 
it was because the message was beyond all human comprehension.

Maybe, it was both.

Or maybe,
maybe,
it was because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus, 
we don't have to be afraid.

Do not be afraid, 
you have found favor with God.

Do not be afraid, 
this is God's way of sharing the Good news of peace and joy with the world around you.

Do not be afraid, 
not even death can hold you back or separate you from what God is doing.

Because of Jesus, 
we don't have to be afraid.

When God places a seed of destiny inside us, we don't have to be afraid.

When God is birthing something new in us and through us or around us, we don't have to be afraid.

When God has closed a door, buried a dream, or taken our very last breath, we don't have to be afraid.

The angel spoke it 
to Mary, 
the shepherds, 
and the women at the tomb.

God speaks it to you and I today.

Do not be afraid.

Whatever God is doing, 
we can trust Him.

Wherever God is leading, 
we can follow Him.

Whenever God is calling, 
we can answer Him with a resounding, "Yes, Lord!" -

because of Jesus.

Because Jesus was conceived in a young virgin,
because His birth was announced to shepherds on a hillside,
because He no longer is in the tomb,
but in Heaven,
sitting on the right side of God the Father,
we do not have to be afraid!

Maybe
this is the message of the angel:
the gospel of the Good News, proclaimed to the world.

Immanuel. 

God is with us. 

Jesus has come.

We have nothing to fear.


"Do not be afraid."~



~Stacy

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What a Gift~

I know God loves us all,
with a love
we can't even begin to fathom
or begin to understand.

And yet,
wouldn't you agree -
the way He loves us
so kindly, mercifully, and beautifully
in spite of who we are,
makes us feel
as though He loves us
best,
most?

I am always undone
by His goodness,
by His attention to my life,
by the faithful ones who answer His call
in regards to
simple, little ole me.

In April of 2017,
I was invited to speak at a women's event,
at a church several hours away.

To be asked to attend, a blessing.
To be asked to share my heart,
an honor and a privilege.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time
in the company
of these amazing ladies of faith.
I shared of the loss of my husband,
the loss of my ministry job
because of the loss of my husband,
and God's faithfulness through it all.

Arriving home,
I received an email from the lady
who had coordinated the event.

"Would you mind if we add you to our church prayer list?"

Of course, my answer was
"Yes, please do!"

A week or so later,
much to my surprise and delight,
(and heartfelt appreciation
that poured out of my heart
in the form of tears of thanksgiving)
a Prayer Gram arrived in my mailbox.

"Dear Stacy,
We want you to know that we prayed for you today out of love and concern.
We consider it a blessing and a privilege to do so.
May you experience God's presence, comfort, strength, and guidance in days to come."

The Prayer Gram was a bright and cheery
colored piece of paper.
Most precious of all -
it showcased the signatures
of each person who had prayed for me,
including the precious handwriting
of little ones new to holding a pen in hand,
but already familiar with the sacred honor and duty
of lifting up another in prayer.

What an amazing gift
this church had given me -
the gift of prayer.

Imagine my surprise,
when the following week,
another Prayer Gram arrived.

And the week after that.

And the week after that.

And the week after that.

On and on,
every single week,
week after week.

Including this week.

These precious prayer warriors         
are still praying for me,
eighty two weeks later!

Eighty two weeks later!

Every. single. week.

That they would take precious time
to pray for me, amazing.

That they would take precious time
(and spend precious postage!)
to mail me a Prayer Gram
so I know they did, amazing.

The fact that I am not forgotten,
that I haven't slipped from their minds,
that I am being lifted up
and held in their prayers -
still,
faithfully every week -
priceless indeed.

I know God loves us all,
but sometimes,
in times like this,
when week after week,
these precious Prayer Grams
arrive in my mailbox,
I can't help but think
of the way He loves me.

Thank you Trinity United Methodist Church,
from a heart blessed
beyond words.



~Stacy

Monday, November 12, 2018

Maybe If We Tried God's Design . . .

Grief is messy.

There is no other way around it.

And because it is,
society
(and the deepest part of us, too)
tries to skirt around it,
keep it neat and tidy,
sweep it up and away,
all out of sight -
as fast as new fallen leaves
are raked,
stuffed into trash bags,
and set out on the curb
to be picked up
and taken away.

Only,
God didn't design leaves
to be raked up
the moment they light upon
a perfectly manicured yard.
God didn't design leaves
to be raked up
at all.

Raking is man's idea.

When sin
(and then later, death)
came to the garden
that fateful day when Eve,
deceived by Satan,
took and ate the forbidden fruit,
God had a plan.

God had a purpose in it
and through it.

His ultimate plan:
Loving the world so much
He sent His only Son
to die on the cross,
and then be resurrected to life
so that you and I
can escape the chains of death
and experience life eternal
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And yet,
in the Autumn season,
when leaves take on glorious color,
then fall to the ground
and begin to "break down" into the soil,
God has a plan and a purpose
in place here, too.

Nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium
are released back into the soil.
Earth worms,
which are so beneficial
to the health of our yard,
have a smorgasbord of leaf litter
to munch on and thrive on.
The soil structure,
made stronger by the addition of the leaves,
can absorb more water.
And, critters such as
box turtles, toads, and chipmunks,
have a blanket to shelter under.

Simply put,
fallen leaves are good for our ecosystems.

And yet,
because they are
messy,
unsightly,
and make us
(or our yard)
look less than "put together",
they are scooped up
and disposed of as soon as possible -
before they have a chance
to do the work
God intended for them to do.

Sadly,
I think far too often,
grief is handled
in much the same way.

And yet,
just like a leaf
is broken down
and morphed into something new -
something that -
if left to do its work -
can benefit the world around it,
loss and brokenness change us,
in a way
that through the power of God,
if given enough time
to do its work -
can benefit those in our world, too.

So often,
when we have experienced
significant loss or brokenness in our life,
society acts as though
we should be quick
to return to our "normal self".

But, how can we
when we are no longer
who we once were?

And yet, for the sake of society
and for the sake of looking "put together",
we put all our effort into trying
to "go back".

Only,
God didn't design our broken hearts
to be swept under the carpet of "normal"
or pushed back in to "life as usual"
the moment grief lights upon
a perfectly manicured life.

"Back to normal" is man's idea.

For in the grief process, itself, -
when the sting of death is felt,
and tears fall uncontrollably
(and often times, inconsolably)
God has a plan and a purpose
in place here, too.

A leaning into,
a drawing deeply from,
and a clearer revelation of God's presence
in our grief,
nourishes and strengthens our own relationship with God
in a way that changes us,
and possibly even changes those
watching us
walk through this season.

Our loss and brokenness
and the raw open wound it leaves,
stirs up in us
more compassion,
more sympathy and empathy,
more caring and responding
to those
walking through grief
with us or
after us.

A greater realization
of the brevity of life,
combined with our
"I wish I would have"
and "I wish I wouldn't have"
regrets and shortcomings,
cause us to live
more circumspectly,
more intentionally,
more passionately,
more selflessly,
more completely
which in turn
causes us to
love deeper,
serve greater,
and appreciate fonder,
our fellowman.

And,
possibly most precious of all,
the comfort we receive from His Spirit,
the peace that comes from His presence,
the joy He gives in the midst of,
and the hope we have in Jesus our Lord,
propels us to tell others about our God
like never before.
We know the difference Jesus makes
and we can't help but share Him with others.

Yes,
grief is messy.

There is no other way around it -
only through it.

And yet,
it is the going through it,
it is the allowing God to use it
to work in us and through us
that changes us more and more
into the likeness of God.

Maybe the better solution
is not to return to "normal",
to who we no longer are,
but to instead
walk with courage, grace, and honesty
into the person
God is helping us become
through this loss and brokenness -
unapologetic for our scars,
unashamed of our tears,
and untouched
by the unmet expectations of others.



~Stacy