Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Led by His Kindness~







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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grappling with Faith~


I've been wondering a lot lately about the level of my faith.

Not wondering, really . . . more discovering.

I talk faith.

I believe faith.

I think I have faith.

Then, I find myself seated in a pew at the funeral of a four month old.  From the angle where I sit, I can see the tiny casket resting atop a green and yellow striped baby afghan. 

And, I listen.

 And, wonder. 

And make myself face this question head on.

"Do I really have faith?"

As the lady seated in front of me wipes a tear from her eye, I wipe a continuous stream of them from  my own.  Pew after pew, eye after eye.  It seems no one here is untouched by this heartbreaking loss.

"Faith isn't faith until it is tested.  It is in times like this that we stand on our faith and it carries us through.  It is in times like this that we discover the kind of faith we have."

The words of the minister reach deep into my soul.  I can hardly stand the pain I feel seated in this place, in this moment. It is overwhelming, suffocating, too much.  My eyes  keep veering right and then left; any direction except straight ahead at the reality before us and the reason we are here. 

And, I think of this precious mother, this broken father, these young sisters and tiny brother.

To suffer such loss.

To bury one so tiny, so helpless, so innocent.

To love God in spite of and in the midst of.

To believe without a doubt that God is good all the time, even in times like this.

Faith.

Do I have it?

Or am I simply spoiled by the goodness of the Lord?

My life has been an easy one. 
God's blessings have been abundant.  Sorrows, few.
It's easy to have faith when all is well, life is happy, "God is good."

But, what about when God's goodness is disguised in heartbreak?

What about the times when everything falls apart and nothing makes sense?

What do we do with our God when our God allows something into our life that pulls the rug of our heart right out from underneath us?

What do we do when our foundation shakes so violently we find ourselves grappling to keep our footing.......and our faith?

And, I wonder. 

And, I hear God's Spirit asking me the hardest question of all:

Do you trust me?

And, the only answer I know, the only answer I can give, the only cry of my heart is this:

"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
~ Mark 9:24





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Monday, January 28, 2013

Ponder This~







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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Meeting Place~

“I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.” ~ Psalm 138:2, NLT
As the first rays of light reach forth to the sky,
I bow my heart before you, Lord.
Seeking you.
Desiring you.
Worshiping you.



To know I can breathe a prayer and you hear.
To trust I can whisper your name and you answer.
To believe I can come into your Holy presence and find open arms.




Incomprehensible!
Unbelievable!
And yet, the undeniable TRUTH I stand on
every single moment,
of each and every day.


Just like David,
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
Just like David, I, too, have discovered
your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.
So, I meet you here.
And, you meet me back.
Strengthened.
Renewed.
Cleansed. 
Filled.







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Friday, January 25, 2013

We're All His~






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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Live Like That~










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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God Is Enough~







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Ever Mindful~

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
~ Psalm 8:3-4
The work of your hands,
creation,
above me,
below me,
all around me.


Vivid reminders of
Your
majesty,
glory,
and power.


And then,
there is me.
A tiny speck in this vast universe.


And yet,
You, oh God, are mindful of me.
You, my God, know me by name.
You, Father God, have count of the hairs on my head.



Who am I that you You would even notice me?
And, yet you do.



Your eyes are always on me.
Your ears are always open to my prayers.
Your thoughts are always toward me.



Not because of who I am,
but because of who YOU ARE.



You are
My Creator,
My God,
My Father.



And me,
I am never
out of your sight,
out of your love,
or out of your care.


Sunrise I Manly
{Photo Credit}



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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Way of The Cross~

Akward and uncomfortable, a fellow believer and I stand in the hallway at church; our words guarded, our conversation stiff. Words spoken in the past have now formed a dam, causing the normal flow of communication to seek alternate routes. As we sputter and stammer and search for the right words, we are interrupted by a five year old boy on the way to his classroom.

"Look, Ms. Stacy! I have something to show you!"

With one hand, he tugs on my pant leg. With the other, he tries balancing his open Bible, while flipping pages with his chin.

"WOW. Did you get a new Bible?" I ask.

"No. It's my same old Bible, but what I want to show you is new."

As he searches for the new treasure he longs to share, we "adults" attempt picking up our awkward conversation right where we left off. It is obvious our hearts are on different sides of this issue. It is also obvious this is a chasm that will not easily be crossed.

"Oh, look! Here it is, Ms. Stacy. Here's what I want to show you! LOOK!"

He points to a picture of Jesus, bent low, under the weight of the cross.

"Oh, honey. It's a picture of Jesus carrying the cross."

"Yeah. It's sad. Don't you think?"

My eyes meet the eyes of  the man standing beside me. We both nod in agreement.

"Yes, sweetheart. It is very sad. But, that's how much Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us so much He was willing to carry that heavy cross and He was willing to die on it."

"Yeah," he shakes his head up and down. "And He died for all of us, didn't He? For me, and you and you." Now he's using his free hand to point at me and my brother-in-Christ.

"Well......want to hear the new part?" he asks excitedly.

"Yes, I'd love to hear it."

Again, eyes of two different viewpoints meet and we wonder together what this little heart has discovered.

"The new part is from when I looked at that picture. I prayed and told Jesus I would carry it for Him. It's new because this story is old, BUT, if it was a new story, this time, I would carry the cross for Him."

With that, he snaps the Bible shut, and heads down the hall to his class, skipping and smiling all the way. Standing alone once again, all we can do is smile, lower our heads and walk, each to our own destination.

Strife.

Division.

All too familiar roadblocks in the body of Christ.

One person sees it this way.
One person sees it that way.

Neither can see past their own way to see The Way.

The same old story - time and time again.


crossing the wey
{Photo Credit}
But,
what if?

What if this time,
we chose to make the story new?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to bend low?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to sacrifice,
to trade our want for the want of the other?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to walk the road of love?


What if this time, one of us was willing

     to carry the cross of the other,

          to walk in a different pair of shoes,

               to see this issue from a different point of view,

                    to give up our all that all might be gained?

I peek in the window of the classroom where this sweet little boy now sits at a table with his friends. As he points to the picture and excitedly shares his revelation, I lift my eyes to heaven and smile.

Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you for loving us, ALL of us, enough to carry the cross;
the cross you would give your very life on.
Thank you for this precious little boy who has opened my eyes to see a new way,
a death to self, life-giving way.
May, I too, be willing to carry my cross, to die to self,
that your body, the church, might live.

As I head down the same old hallway, I carry a brand new truth in my heart:

The only way to cross a chasm is by way of the cross.~




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Saturday, January 19, 2013

God, The Maker~










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Thursday, January 17, 2013

In an Instant~

The  recent death of a 4 month old in our church family has me re-thinking and re-posting this "older" post about the brevity of life. . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This morning started like any other morning. My alarm jolted me out of my dreams and then out of my cozy bed as out into the world I stepped.

At work, this day started like any other morning, too. Emails to answers, projects to complete and phones to answer.

In fact, it was answering a phone call that turned this ordinary day, upside down.

"Stacy," the voice on the other end of the line sounded urgent," is the Pastor in?"

"Yes, just a moment please."

I put the phone on hold and walked the short distance down the hall to the front offices, then informed the pastor about the caller waiting on line 1.

I returned to my desk, opened a another email, then looked up as the pastor entered my office.

"It was a massive heart attack. I'm headed to the hospital."

Minutes later, another phone call. This one from the Pastor.

"He didn't survive. He's gone."

In a matter of moments, a member of our church was gone. One moment, he was on the golf course, taking in this beautiful fall day and breathing in life. The next, fallen onto the grass to breathe of this life no more.



In an instant.

A moment.

Suddenly, nothing about my own life felt ordinary anymore.

As I hung up the phone, I distinctly remembering feeling my lungs inhale and then exhale as I took my next breath. I felt the pounding of my heart, as each beat pumped blood through my veins. I felt the blinking of my eyes as tears welled up and overflowed. I felt my stomach, a sea of emotion.

As I unconsciously pulled the collar of my shirt up close around my neck, I smelled the "scent of my husband" still lingering on my shirt, a precious reminder of our morning embrace.

Looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, I spotted a photo of my sister, her precious little boy and me. Walking through a mall one day while we were both vacationing at my mother's home, we had spotted one of those fun little photo booths, looked at each other with that twinkle in our eyes and dove in. The photo brought new tears.

As I sat in my office, my little cubicle of the world, I was suddenly aware of life,

of being alive.



Emails, projects, to-dos, bills, the argument I had with my husband the day before, my dirty house...

none of it mattered anymore.

NONE. OF. IT.

I was alive. I had been blessed with one more minute of life. Possibly one more hour or one more day or one more week or one more year.

What a gift.

What a privilege.

And shamefully, regretfully, what a waste...all the days before when I was simply going through the motions, existing, and doing, and completing my list, but not really living.

As I sat in my office, I thought about my life.
I thought about how many minutes had been wasted on

piddly bickering,

thankless complaining,

endless worrying,

mindless living.



What if today was my last day?

What if that would have been me?

Not another opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun,

to hear the wind whistling through the trees,

to taste the sweetness of honey,

to laugh until it hurt,

to dance when no one was watching or maybe even if they were,

to experience life,

ALL OF IT~

What if that phone call would have been about me?

Am I satisfied with how I have lived my life?

Am I ok with the way I have chosen to spend the minutes I have been so graciously given?

AND.............

Am I content to keep living this way?


NO.


I.


AM.


NOT.

I don't want this day to end like any other ordinary day.

I don't want my life to end like just another ordinary life.

When my end comes,
when I breathe my last breath,
I want my life to have been lived to the full,


 


          abundant,
                      overflowing with LIFE~


Teach us how short our lives really are

so that we may be wise.
~ Psalm 90:12, NCV




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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Always On Your Heart, Always on Your Lips~





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Saying Adios to Rose-Colored Glasses~

Have you ever seen yourself

Mirror
{Photo Credit}

in the behavior of someone else?

Lately, the Lord has been giving me a dose of my own medicine. Sans a sugar coating to sweeten each revelation, these new insights have been pretty hard to swallow.

It's easy for me to fool myself into thinking I am something (or someone) I'm not. Especially, when I look at other people and then compare my behavior in light of theirs.

Sure, I'm hopping mad, but at least my temper isn't as bad as his!

Wow, I can't believe how critical she is. I would never judge someone else like that!

I hear you laughing. You know exactly what I'm talking about because you, too, have said or thought the exact same thing! We humans are funny creatures, aren't we?

And yet, there's nothing like catching our reflection in the actions of someone else to steal the chuckle right out of us!

Why is it that we have such a hard time seeing the real us? Good or bad. Those with a chip on their shoulder often see in themselves qualities, gifts and talents the rest of us can't quite see, while those with a poor self-image have trouble spotting that which is so obvious to everyone else.

I think it is because we tend to look at our self and others through human eyes. But God, He sees our heart. And, it is the ugliness in my heart that has been popping up in the least likely places.

I really shouldn't be surprised, though.

A few weeks ago, I decided to pray the same prayer David prayed.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
~Psalms 139:23-24, NLT
The great I am, the Lover of my Soul, my faithful Shepherd is He. And, mercifully, tenderly and often painfully, He is revealing to me ... ME.

The real me.



Not my reputation, but my character.


Not who I think I am, but who I really am.



And...

it hasn't been pretty.


But, it's exactly what I needed.
Unless we come face to face with real us,
 we will never come face to face with our need for a Saviour.

The closer I get to God, the more I realize just how wretched I am.


The more I learn of His spotless character, the more I discover the sinfulness and filthiness of my own.


The deeper I fall in love with my Savior, the more I humbly bow before my God and thank Him for


the gift of Jesus,


the gift of salvation,


the gift of redemption,


the gift of re-creation.




This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT


Slowly, but surely, one revelation at a time, God is remaking me into His image.

At times it is painful, embarrassing and down right humiliating, not to mention, depressing, but I am learning to let God search me and try me, and then, to miraculously change me.

Nope!

Upon Godly inspection, I am definitely not who I thought I was.


But, hallelujah,


thanks to Godly sanctification,


I'm not who I used to be either!



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Friday, January 11, 2013

Even More Still~






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Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Rock Solid Purpose~

"Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
No! There is no other Rock—not one!”
~Isaiah 44:8, NLT


Lord,
Sometimes, it's so hard to see your purpose
shining through the day to day of my life.
And yet, before the foundation of the earth,
You had a purpose for me in mind.


You created me
ON purpose,
FOR a purpose,
WITH a purpose.


When I start to sink in the waves of
discouragement,
doubt,
dread,
disobedience,
it's hard to keep my focus on Your purpose.


Help me to forever stand my life on You,
THE ROCK.
There is NO OTHER.

Hold me up that I might always have a clear view of you
in the midst of all that is surrounding me.


Remind me daily,
that You have a purpose for
my pain,
my heartache,
my victory,
my path,
my life.



I will not tremble.
I will not be afraid.
I will trust in Your purpose.
I will trust in You,
my solid rock,
my God.
There is NO Other.

Ovingdean Chalk Beach, Seaweed, Sea and Groyne
{Photo Credit}





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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Live Carefree~








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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Anything Less?







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