Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't Be Afraid~

God has given each of us the privilege of being His hands and feet to those in need around us. Just open your eyes and you will see opportunity for giving and sharing everywhere you look. I have always been keenly aware of these opportunities, yet shamefully, I must admit, I have usually turned my face to these calls for help and avoided them altogether.

No, that's not exactly true.

Whenever I've been given the honor of helping someone in need of food, clothing or money, I have always been more than willing to share what God has blessed me with. This kind of giving is easy. It's not hard to drop off a box of food, or write out a check. I guess the type of giving I'm referring to is the kind that requires giving of yourself.

For the past six months or so, my neighbor has been courageously fighting a battle with cancer. I know this not because I have spoken to her, but because her husband has been sharing her struggle with my husband during chats over the fence that separates our yard from theirs. Knowing she has been facing this, you would think I would be doing whatever I could to help her, right? Wrong! I have instead willfully chosen to turn my face to her and her obvious need.
Day after day, I remain silent, doing absolutely nothing to help her.

Why?

It's simple.

Fear.

Fear of invading her privacy.
Fear of saying or doing something wrong.
Fear of making her uncomfortable.
Simply put.....fear of making her situation worse and not better.

I rationalize my total complacency to her need by convincing myself she would be much better off without me. And, believe it or not......I actual believe this to be true.

So, I stay away.

More than ten years ago, my mother in law was fighting her own battle with cancer. Her eyes were growing dim and her strength all but gone. While her family was in the kitchen sharing in a meal, I was sitting at her side. Feeling so incompetent to be in this position, it wasn't a place I would have chosen to be. Yet, God placed me there for this moment in time.

As I gazed upon her frail body, lying there in her bed, I noticed her neck, which appeared to be in an awkward position.

"Are you OK?" I asked. "You don't look very comfortable. Would you like me to try and adjust your pillow so you can rest your head more comfortably?"

With all the energy she could muster up, she nodded her head "yes".

Immediately, fear flooded my entire being.
What am I going to do?
How can I possibly move her without hurting her?
If only someone else was here with me. I don't know what to do.

With a whirlwind of thoughts, doubts and fears racing through my mind, I leaned over this precious woman, gingerly placing my hand under her head. As I tried to figure out how best to reposition her on her pillow, she reached out with her own hand, placing it firmly on my shoulder. Then, using what little strength she had, she said slowly and deliberately, "DON'T BE AFRAID".

I lifted her head, readjusted her pillow, and gently laid her head back down once again. She looked up at me and smiled. Those three words, DON'T BE AFRAID, were the last words she spoke to me. Two days later, she passed away.

I have carried those words in my heart ever since. Dying words meant to speak life. Yet, unfortunately, I have allowed these words and the power they bring to lie dormant in my heart. Ten years later, I am still choosing instead, to listen to the lies of Satan. Lies that only serve to imprison me in fear and render be totally useless as God's hands and feet to those around me. My neighbor needs me, and I am not there for her.


And that is my whole point in writing this.

I want to be used by God no matter HOW he chooses to use me.

Be it lending a dollar or lending my heart.

Until I am willing to give of myself, I will never be able to live up to the true potential of my calling -to serve my fellowman.

This giving of myself will most likely not be easy and will most likely make me extremely uncomfortable, but then again....it's not about ME, right?! It's about forgetting all about me so I can instead focus fully on the one in need.



{Photo Credit}
It's also about forgetting my obvious incompetence and instead, focusing on the Lord, who IS able. He is able to do all I could ever thing or imagine and then some!!! I know I am not able to meet the needs of others.....but the great I AM certainly is! All I need to do is surrender to my need for Christ to work in and through me, and He in turn, will be faithful to use me to meet the needs he brings before me.

I love 2 Corinthians 4:7 -

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

No, it's not about easy and it's not about us.

It's about surrender.
Surrender to all that is holding me back,
and possibly holding you back, too.

Be it our pride,
our selfishness,
our laziness or our fear.

All are simply tools of Satan to keep you and I turning our heads, and walking away.

It's about surrendering.
It's about trusting.

It's about time!

I've wasted so many God-given opportunities to serve. 
I've turned down countless God-issued invitations to help.
I've skipped over and around God-designed moments
to be His hands,
to show His love,
to Make. It. Count.

I don't want to waste one more second.

Do you?

It's time to leave fear behind, to step out in faith, and to start being used by God to make a difference!

(Reposting in honor of Helen Flores Sanchez, my precious mother-in-law. Today is her birthday. Remembering her, the words she courageously and deliberately spoke into my heart, and the legacy she left behind.)






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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Who Do They See?~










 
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Even Though~









 
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Monday, October 21, 2013

In An Instant~

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

(Re-posting this, while living life to the full - cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway in California with my precious sister this week.)








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Saturday, October 19, 2013

United in HIM~









 
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Callling~









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Sunday, October 13, 2013

What's Stopping Your Flow?~

Hurrying out the door, I filled my travel mug with coffee and away I went. 

Moments later, seated at my desk, I picked up my mug in anticipation of a moment of "aah" as I tilted the mug to my lips and began to drink. Only . . . nothing came out! How could this be? My cup was full, the opening in the lid was open, and yet, no coffee. 

After examining my cup, I tried again. 

Coffee mug to lips - √,
tilted in downward position - √,
warm coffee cascading down my throat - not so much.

Upon closer inspection of my travel mug lid, I discovered the teeny, tiny, eensy weeny air hole opposite the mouth hole was clogged. I found a needle and poked it in the hole. Then, to my delight, when I tried the third time, satisfaction galore!

Lesson for the day: it doesn't take much to stop the flow.

So often, we come to God with our hands and our hearts wide open to receive of 

His blessings, 
His wisdom,
His guidance, 
His comfort, 
His love, joy and peace, 
and yet still find ourselves expectant and empty. 

We try and try 
to receive and partake,
but we just can't quite make a connection.

Could it be, somewhere in our thoughts, actions, motives, or ______, we have a clog?


It doesn't take much to stop the flow. 

In order for God to pour into our life, 
we need to make sure our ENTIRE life is open to Him.

We can't leave one teeny, tiny, eensy, weeny spot 
closed off from 
His leading,
His correction, 
His refining, 
His cleansing. 

If we do, we may very well find ourself in lack.

Today, ask God to search your heart and show you

any place that is in need of cleansing. 
Pray for His Spirit to reveal specific places
you have not yet fully opened up to Him. 

Then, 
upon close Godly inspection, 
surrender this clogged area to God 
and allow Him to remove anything and everything standing in the way of your relationship with Him.

God desires, that in Him, we might 

be complete,
be made whole, 
be filled to overflowing with His Spirit, 
and be more than satisfied. 

It doesn't take much to stop the flow. 

Today, let God - ALL of God - pour into your life and make you whole.~♥








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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Still~











 
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Can Only Imagine~

"Hi, Aunt Stacy!"

These words, spoken by my precious little nephew, were like a dream come true. From the moment I made my airplane reservations, I pictured Sebastian's sweet face and visualized hearing those words. Arriving at the Denver airport Wednesday night, I finally saw and heard both.

My heart just melted.

As I hugged my nephew tight, I thanked God for granting me this desire of my heart: to be with my sister and her little man.

Special time together. Special moments that later become special memories.

Soon, my time here will be over.
Soon, my sister will drive me back to the airport and this time,
this time I will hear the words that break my heart.
Goodbye.

Sweet reunions like this make my heart long for Heaven. There, we won't have to try to capture memories in our mind. There, we won't have to pray for the time to go slow and the days to last long. There, our "hi" will never turn into "goodbye". Heaven will be a forever "hello" and I can't wait.

Tonight, as I sit in my sister's kitchen, typing away on her laptop, after tucking in my nephew, kissing him goodnight and whispering "sweet dreams", my heart is overflowing with thanksgiving. I am so thankful for this moment in time - time to soak in, drink in, and enjoy every moment with my precious family.

But, I am also thankful for the blessed hope of Heaven. For moments that will never end. For the opportunity to spend time with my loved ones with no thought of an upcoming goodbye. For being with my precious Jesus through out all eternity.

 Right here, right now is precious indeed.

 But, Heaven.....I can only imagine how beautiful that will be.~







 
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Monday, October 7, 2013

He Still Is - He Still Does~











 
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Friday, October 4, 2013

All the Way to Best~











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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Inevitable~


We pray for God to make us stronger, 
to grow our faith, 
to deepen our walk with Him. 

As we say our "Amen" and step out into life, 
more times than not, 
we are caught off guard by what is almost inevitably coming next - 
temptation, 
trials,
suffering, 
hardship, 
disappointment, 
grief.

As much as we love "easy", 
God in His infinite wisdom, 
merciful favor, 
and unfathomable love, 
knows the only way we will grow in our faith
is to come face to face with that which builds our spiritual strength. 

Easy doesn't require faith. 
Easy doesn't build spiritual muscles. 
Easy doesn't draw us deeper into relationship with God.

It is in the hard times 
that we come to depend upon our God and discover He is dependable
It is in the hard times 
that our faith reaches with everything it has deep into the heart of God 
and there discovers everything it needs
It is in the hard times, 
when we have nothing else, 
that we come to discover God is more than enough.

We pray for God to make us stronger, 
to grow our faith,
to deepen our walk with Him. 

When God, 
in His infinite wisdom, 
merciful favor, 
and unfathomable love,
answers our prayer, 
may we not murmur, complain, resent or rebel. 

May we instead, embrace His gracious gift 
and discover what is inevitably coming next - 
spiritual strength, 
a deeper faith, 
a closer walk with our God.~










 
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