Thursday, October 4, 2018

That Which Remains~

"I'm sorry, but I don't think you understand."

And really,
how could she possibly understand?

A letter from my credit card company
alerting me to suspected fraudulent activity on my account
found me on the phone
engaging in a conversation
that soon
had me fighting back tears.

The conversation had started out fine.

"Ok, Mrs. Sanchez,
you will not be responsible
for these unauthorized charges.
We will be sending you out new cards
within the next few days,
but before we do, I'll need to speak
with the primary person on this account
to verify this information."

This is where the conversation
headed in a downhill direction.

"My husband passed away."

"Hold please."

The next thing I knew
I was speaking to an entirely different person
about an entirely different subject.

"Since your husband is now deceased,
and this account was listed
under his social security number,
we will be closing this account immediately."

"No, that's ok.
I'd like to keep this account open.
Since my name is already on our account,
please just update our information
using my name and my social security number
instead of his."

"I'm sorry, but that's not possible.
This account will be closed immediately."

"I'm sorry, but I don't think you understand.
We have had this account for years
and I would like to keep it open."

"I'm sorry, but that is not an option."

"Is there someone else I can talk to about this?
I really don't want to close it."

"No. I'm sorry. You can reapply for your own account.
Would you like to do that?"

And while my head
(understanding the whys behind
why this was happening)
was trying its best
to stay in this conversation,
my heart was completely lost
in a conversation all of its own:
"We can't close this account.
Not THIS account.
Not THIS card.
Why isn't she listening?
Why won't she cooperate?"

"Ma'am?  Would you like to do that?
Would you like to reapply for your own account?"

Fighting back tears,
all I could say was
"No, thank you.
Without him,  - - -
it  - - - it - - -
wouldn't be right."

Sensing I was coming unraveled,
the woman on the other end of the line
thanked me for my call
and ended our conversation.

As I hung up the phone,
another conversation
from so many years ago,
began to play in my heart
like it was yesterday.

"Hi, Beautiful! Glad you're home, Baby."

Arriving home from work,
the look on my husband-of-barely-three-week's face
gave away the surprise
that he had a special surprise
to share with me.

"Here you go, Beautiful."

Standing proud and tall,
and sporting a huge smile
and a sparkle in his eyes -
my husband handed me
a credit card.

"Look, Baby.
It's got your name on it.
Your married name.
Stacy Sanchez.
As soon as we were married,
I called my credit card company
and told them to add you to my account.
And,
(he was very proud of this next point)
I told them I wanted your card
to have your name on it.
That way you'll never have any trouble
if you need to use it.
Put it in your wallet, Beautiful,
and always keep it with you.
If you ever have an emergency,
you'll have this to use."

Oh, the look on his face.
Oh, the pride of officially being my husband
and longing to watch out for
and take care of his new bride.
Oh, the beauty of that moment.

No,
unless she would have been me
standing in our living room
that day so long ago,
there is no way she could possibly understand.

What I was feeling
had absolutely nothing to do
with a piece of plastic or
an account with a credit company.

Here, once again,
was simply another
vivid,
not-to-be-missed,
undeniable,
can't-do-one-thing-about-it
reminder
of my husband's death,
of the hard to accept he's-no-longer-here truth,
of all the changes his passing
continues to bring to my life.

Having my husband in my life
was like opening my wallet
and seeing this credit card.

I knew they were there.
I knew I could count on them.
I knew that I knew
I had what I needed.

No longer having this account,
no longer having this card,
pierced my heart -
yet one more time -
with the truth that
I no longer had him, either.

And as it usually does,
this truth
completely broke me.

When I finally quit crying enough
to be able to speak,
I fell to my knees
and began to  . . .
thank my Heavenly Father.

And this is when the downhill spiral
took an upward turn.

Early on in my journey of grief,
this wouldn't have been my natural response.
I would have fallen to my knees
because (thank God) my grief always took me there,
but I would have questioned,
I would have wrestled,
I would have fought to understand.

And I think all of those reactions are
more than fine, more than welcome,
more than understood by our God.

And, eventually -
God's Spirit at work in me
and at work for me,
would always lead me to a place of
thanksgiving.

Now,
two years and eight months
into this journey,
thanksgiving comes easier.

I am learning to bypass the
how comes,
why nots,
if onlys,
and just settle in on the
thank yous.

Because what I've learned about grief
is this:
It's the not having
what you once had
that breaks your heart.
It's the once having,
but no longer having
that hurts so much.

But -
it's the fact that you once did,
it's the fact that you once had,
that is worthy -
so very worthy -
of our thanksgiving.

And it is in this place of thanksgiving
that I am always reminded again of
my Father's heart,
my Father's love,
my Father's goodness,
my Father's care,
my Father - period.

And more than a
piece of plastic
with some numbers
and my name on it,
tucked into my wallet
could "protect me"
or "take care of me",
my Father can
and my Father does.

And more than
the love of my life,
my husband -
a mere human being
could "protect me"
or "take care of me",
my Father can
and my Father does.

And more than
the reminder
that neither of these
are no longer in my life,
I was reminded once again -
in the most
beautiful,
powerful,
vivid,
not-to-be-missed,
undeniable way -
that my Father God
has been,
is still,
and will always be
with me.

I know He is here.
I know I can count on Him.
I know that I know
I have all and so much more
than I'll ever need.

The reminder of the loss hurts -
oh, how it hurts.

But,
the reminder of my God who still remains -
comforts,
strengthens,
and heals -
oh, how He heals.

And, I'm starting to understand -
it ways I couldn't possible before -
this,
this is a beautiful part of the journey.



~Stacy

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Where's Jesus?~

Have you ever moved
forward in life
only to discover later
you went on ahead
without Jesus?

It happened to Mary and Joseph,
and if we aren't careful
to stay in close proximity to Jesus,
it can happen to us, too.

"After the Feast was over,
while his parents were returning home,
the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem,
but they were unaware of it."
~Luke 2:43

I wonder how many times
you and I
have journeyed ahead
totally unaware
that Jesus has stayed behind.

I wonder how many times we have
jumped into conversations,
signed on dotted lines,
turned the next corner
without ever stopping to see
if Jesus was with us
in this decision,
in this timing,
in this direction,
in this move.

It's so easy
to make our plans,
to start out on our journey,
to move ahead
assuming
Jesus is with us -
especially when what we are doing
is for His kingdom,
for His purpose,
for His glory.

How we need to
commune with our Jesus
before
we ever take one step.

How we need to
seek His presence,
stay close by His side,
abide with Him
every moment
of every day.

If we don't,
we may very well find ourself
in the same situation
as Mary and Joseph.

"Has anyone seen Jesus?
Where's Jesus?
We thought he was with us."



~Stacy





Monday, September 17, 2018

Being Still in A Hurry Up and Go World~

Hurry up! Go! Hurry up! Go!

Looking back over the span of my life,
I can't think of a time when I didn't feel the pressure to hurry up and go,
(except for three weeks, in three separate years,
when my sisters and I were on our yearly sister vacation.)

From my earliest childhood memory
of my mom waking me up for school,
the story of my life (and most likely yours, too!)
has been hurry up and go.

As my mom placed breakfast before me, -
the minutes until the bus for school would arrive
ticking away faster than the speed of light -,
she would look at me with frustration on her face and say,
"Don't just sit there, do something. Hurry up! Go!"

From hurrying to catch the bus,
to hurrying to finish homework assignments,
to hurrying to graduate high school,
to hurrying to get through college,
to hurrying to find a job,
to hurrying to find a husband,
to hurrying to make a living,
to hurrying to get through life,
my life has been set on "hurry up and go".

And here,
now,
in this season between seasons,
I feel the pressure
to hurry up and go
more than ever.

Having felt God leading me
to say "Adios" to my old job
and having yet to say "hello" to a new one,
I hear the words of my mom all over again,
"Don't just sit there, do something. Hurry up! Go!"

With days on the calendar ticking by
faster than the speed of light,
and knowing full well
everything that the world demands of me -
I feel the pressure to
be about the business
of being about my business.

Only, I have no idea exactly
what my business is . . .

Should I look for a new job here,
or somewhere else?

Is God calling me to stay here in my home,
or move?

If I move,
what am I going to do
with all of my husband's belongings?

Am I ready to part with his things,
with our home,
with our life here?

If I choose to stay here
do I really want to be here without him?

If I decide to sell our house,
how long will it take to sell?

What will I do if our home doesn't sell quickly
and I haven't found a new job here
because I'm waiting to get a new job there (wherever there is)?

On and on and on
the questions,
the searching for answers,
the trying to make plans
when I don't have a plan,
all have me feeling
the all too familiar pressure
to hurry up and go.

On the outside, that is.

Oddly enough,
(or maybe not odd at all)
deep within,
down in the center of who I am,
flowing from my inner, spiritual man,
I feel the overwhelming conviction
to "be still".

While the world is trying its best to
push me into action,
prod me into moving,
pressuring me into deciding,
I hear God's voice telling me
to think and pray,
to wait and see,
to hope and believe,
to trust and obey,
to hold off and hold on,
to "be still".

And, because these are two
directly opposite forces,
I feel as though I am in the midst
of an intense spiritual battle.

Add to this,
the fact that my husband isn't here to
counsel and pray with me,
and it only makes matters worse.

Hurry up! Go!

"Be still."

Hurry up! Go!

"Be still."

And, I remember the story my husband told me
over and over and over again.

How,
when young and "chasing the American dream",
while living in Phoenix, Arizona,
he was walking along one of the canals in the city,
wondering if there was more to life than
working and paying bills and going to bed
only to get up the next day and spend it
working and paying bills and going to bed.

As he walked along,
the Holy Spirit suddenly came upon Him.
He always smiled as he told this part of the story,
adding that when God's Spirit touched him,
he felt a warm sensation from the top of his head
all the way through him to the bottom of his feet.

As he took his next step,
it was as though the eyes of his heart
had been opened,
and for the first time,
he really saw life.

He saw birds flying above him.
He saw flowers lining the path before him.
He heard children playing nearby.
He felt the warmth of the sun
and the breeze on his face.
He saw the beauty of life,
and he heard God tell him,
"This is life.  Appreciate it -
appreciate everything about it."

Knowing God's presence was with him,
he continued walking until he came to a church
in the heart of the city.
He went in,
sat down,
and pulled out a Bible from the hymn rack
on the back of the pew in front of him.

As he opened the pages of God's Holy Word,
God led him to Matthew 6:25 - 34,
the first words he ever read from the Bible:

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?


Therefore do no worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

And, I ponder all of this in my heart.

Time waits for no man,
this is true.

Bills will keep rolling in,
and I will need to find my new place
in the world soon enough.
I can't sit idly by and do nothing,
and yet I know
Godly wisdom is counseling me
not to rush into anything, either.

There is a time and a season for everything.

And in the meantime,
there is a God
who is very aware of my needs,
very attuned to all that pertains to me
not only physically, but
mentally,
emotionally,
and spiritually, too.

While it seems time is ticking by
and nothing is happening,
I have to trust
God is at work, -
that He is already in tomorrow,
going before me,
preparing the way.

For now,
I will be still.

I will do what He has asked me to do:
to think and pray,
to wait and see,
to hope and believe,
to trust and obey,
to hold off and hold on,
to "be still",
to seek first the kingdom of God,
knowing full well my God shall
supply all my needs,
provide all the answers,
open and close all the right doors,
guide, lead, and direct my path -
in His time,
in His way.

And when the time is right,
when God gives me the green light -
when He is the one
pushing,
prodding,
pressuring me to move -
then,
my only appropriate response will be
to listen and obey,
and to hurry up and go!



~Stacy

Friday, September 14, 2018

It's All in Your Mind~

Please hold your laughter (if possible)
until you have moved on from this post,
opened another email,
or jumped down to another Facebook post.

I've never said
I am the brightest lightbulb in the box,
and what I am about to reveal
will certainly "back me up"
when it comes to this claim.

Sometimes (ok, most times),
it takes me a little while to catch on.

What others grasp instantaneously,
I have to grapple with for a bit.
What others come by naturally,
I have to ponder, digest, and reflect upon.

Thankfully, AHA moments do happen for me,
sometimes they just take a while to happen.

Like, for instance, my most recent AHA moment.
This one only took fity years.
And, it is the simplicity of the revelation,
combined with the fifty year time frame
in which it took me to process it,
that has me asking you
to please hold your giggles.

Balance is all in your head.

(There - it's out in black and white,
typed out on paper for all to see. )

For fifty years of my life,
I struggled with balance,
particularly balance when it came
to standing on one foot.
Try as I might,
no positioning of my arms
or controlled movement of my leg
seemed to bring success.

As soon as I lifted one leg up,
I would teeter and totter until I finally
(ok, quickly!)
had to place the lifted foot
right back on the ground.

For fifty years,
I could not balance on one foot.
Could. not. do. it.

And then, it happened.

One day,
while trying to lift my foot long enough
to take off a very uncooperative sock,
I started to teeter,
and when I did,
I heard myself (out loud) telling myself,
"Stacy, come on, girl!
Think about what you're doing here!"

And, I did.

For the first time ever,
I intentionally thought
about what I was doing,
about what I was wanting to accomplish,
about the need to stay steady and stable.

And, you know what?

The more I thought about being in balance,
the more I was.

The more I thought about standing steady and sure,
the more I was.

The more I took my mental focus
from what I wasn't doing
and placed it into what I wanted to do,
the steadier (and prouder) I stood.

Have you ever been there?

Teetering and tottering through life?

Wanting so desperately to stand
steady and sure
in a temptation,
through a trial,
during the battle?

Struggling to not lean
to the left or the right
in a moment of weakness,
when faced with opposition,
in times of fear and doubt?

If so, remember this:
The victory begins in your mind.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
~ Romans 12:1-2 AMP



Keeping our mind on Christ,
intentionally focusing our thoughts on God,
allowing God to transform
our ability,
our resolve,
our wishy-washyness,
our unbalanced living,
into
a rock-solid faith.

This is how you and I
can begin to find our spiritual balance.

Enlisting the power of the Holy Spirit
to do what only He can do
and what we never can,
seals our victory.

It's not about trying to
position our emotions just right.

It's not about trying to
place one foot of faith here
so as to outweigh one lean toward fear there.

It's not about trying to
stand steady on our own.

It's about surrendering
our need to be in control,
by placing our mind
on The One in control,
and then allowing Him
to do what we can't.

It's about removing our focus
from self,
and placing our mind
on The One
who can bring all things into focus.

It's about taking our thoughts off of
our problem,
our situation,
our temptation,
our need,
our trial,
our whatever is trying to throw us off balance,
and placing them back on
our Almighty God,
our Heavenly Father,
our Good Shepherd,
our Jehovah-Jireh,
our Abba Father.

It's all in our mind.

Believing,
Knowing,
Surrendering.

The next time you find yourself
wavering to the right
or swaying to the left,
set you mind on things above.

The next time you feel
wobbly and gimpy
standing on your own,
stand your spiritual ground
by focusing your mind back on to Christ Jesus,
the one on whose promises you stand.

The next time you start
to teeter and totter
and wave your emotions frantically
in an effort to find something stable
to grab on to,
reach your mind upward
and grab hold of your God -
the rock of your salvation,
the anchor of your soul.

Yes, it's all in your mind.

And, as long as your mind (and mine)
is fixed on Jesus,
we will stand.





(God brought this post from January 29, 2016 to mind today.  I hope you don't mind me sharing it again.)



Monday, September 10, 2018

Wondering Out Loud~

I'm talking to myself,
but by all means -
feel free to listen in
if you would like . . . 

So many times,
when we are faced
with a challenge,
our first response is 
usually always
"What am I going to do?"

We feel helpless
and hopeless,
and it's no wonder we do.

As soon as we start 
relying on self,
as soon as we ask
"What am I going to do?",
we limit our responses,
we limit our resources,
we limit our strength,
we limit our outcome.

We are humans,
simple human beings,
who have limits.

Instead of asking
"What am I going to do?",
what would happen 
if instead 
we turned our question 
into a declaration of faith:
"God, I can't wait to see 
what You're going to do."

His responses,
His resources,
His strength,
His outcomes are limitless.

He is God,
amazing God,
who has no limits.

Nothing is impossible for God.
Nothing is beyond His ability.
Nothing is too hard or too much.

For every need,
God has a limitless supply.

It is not up to us
to try and figure out
what seems to be impossible.

It is up to us
to cry out to
and wait upon 
our God 
who makes all things possible.

And, 
knowing all of this -

I wonder why 

we often don't.