Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to Win the Battle~

Of course I have no way of knowing,
no way of knowing at all,
the places,
the moments,
the situations,
the circumstances,
that make up your battle.

But, I know without a doubt,
without any doubt at all,
that you are in a battle.

And chances are,
you are not in only one battle,
but two or three or four or five.

It comes as no surprise that a soldier will find his or herself on the battlefield.
It's where soldiers are called to be,
and battling is what soldiers are called to do.
And, you and I,
if we are in the Lord's army,
are front and center,
smack dab,
right there on the front line.

But,
what we don't always remember,
and what we are often quick to forget is this:
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Always has. Always will.

Yes, we are called to take our position.
Yes, we are called to dig in our feet and hold our ground.
Yes, we are called to stand guard and defend our faith.

But,
when it comes to
the strategy,
the maneuvering,
the game plan,
the force,
the ability,
the victory winning power needed to be victorious in our battle,
it is all up to God.

Not you.  Not me.

And, if we happen to gain any ground,
if we happen to divide, defeat, and conquer,
if we happen to be declared the winner,
what we don't always remember.
and what we are often quick to forget is this:
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Always has. Always will.

 Not you.  Not me.

We are not responsible for the outcome.
Period.
God is.

Remembering this
takes the pressure off of us,
and it also takes the "praise" off of us.

Wanting so desperately to speak words of tribute about my man at his celebration of life service,
as well as speak words of life about the God my husband knew and served and lived his life for,
I prayed for God to work in me and through me
to accomplish His will,
to speak His words,
to shine His light.
God graciously and amazingly did just that.

A couple of days ago, I was able to share the video of me speaking at his service with friends who were unable to attend.

One friend sent me the following message:

I just had a chance to listen to what you shared about Steve. My friend you are much stronger than I. I don't think I could have done that. It was very beautiful what you said. He would be proud of you. You are such a great speaker and a great blessing to others. God has really blessed you. You can do mighty things for Him. May He continue to bless you as you serve Him.

I replied back with the following words:

I doubt very much that I am stronger than you. In the very heart of you is the strength that was in the very heart of me that day - God. I knew I had to speak about Steve and about choosing to live for God that day and I prayed God would give me the words. I didn't write anything down before hand - couldn't of written any thing down if I tried - and when I stood to walk up to the podium I simply prayed, "It's all you, God. Speak." And, He did. He knew I wanted nothing more than to be able to personally greet all 198 people who came to his service and to speak. And, he granted me both. You never know how you will react or respond in a situation, but I am here to tell you God is faithful and He will do in you and through you what you could never ever do on your own. I am living proof.

This is where the battle is won -
surrendering fully to what God is calling us to do,
then surrendering fully again,
to allow God to do what only He can do,
in us and through us.

We fight the battle
not in our strength,
but His.

We win the battle,
not in our strength,
but His.

And, we celebrate the victory,
not in our name,
but His.

This is how we win the battle.









Saturday, May 28, 2016

Our Last Amen~

"Unexpected blessings in unexpected ways - 
that's what I am praying for you, Stacy.
Every time God brings you across my heart,
I pray He will shower you with unexpected blessings in unexpected ways."

Add these prayers to the prayer my handsome honey prayed over me every morning,
including the morning he passed away:

"Watch over my wife, Heavenly Father.
Bring only people with good intentions across her path.
Protect her from all evil and all harm.
I pray, Heavenly Father, You will stand guard over my wife
while we are absent one from another.
Bless her mightily in ways only You can.
Use her to be a blessing wherever she goes.
God willing, bring us both home safe and together tonight.
In Jesus' precious name, I pray."

And,
you'll understand why I have no doubt God is not only hearing these prayers spoken on my behalf,
but answering them.

On and on,
moment after moment,
day after day,
God showers me with the most unexpected blessings in the most unexpected ways.

On and on
moment after moment,
day after day,
God brings good, stands guard over me, and blesses me mightily in ways that only He can.

Words of a prayer spoken before
and words of prayers spoken still
are being heard, honored, and acted upon.

A knock on my door,
followed by the smile of my neighbor and these words;
"My husband and son were wondering if they could have the honor of hooking up your air conditioner for you this summer."

The honor?
Only God.

Two days after getting my garage door in working condition, the youth director at the church where I work, arrived at work in a truck pulling a flatbed trailer instead of his usual minivan. Little did he know I had a ton of wood in my garage that was looking for a home.  By the time the sun went down that night, the wood was out of my garage and headed to his barn.
Only God.

An unexpected check from the company where my husband was employed
arrives at the very time and in the very amount needed
for an unexpected expense.
Only God.

On and on,
provision after provision,
God-orchestrated opportunity after God-orchestrated opportunity,
blessing upon blessing,
God is taking care of me.

In ways I notice,
and I am sure,
in so many more that I don't.

And, I am reminded of this truth
God spoke to my heart
so many years ago:

Never underestimate the power of a prayer spoken by you or for you.

Knowing this,
I wonder why we ever get up off of our knees,
or say our last Amen.









Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Text Between Sisters~

How you doing sweetie?

Eh - ok.  Just been bluer than blue, sadder than sad.


I'm so sorry.
Was work ok today?
Anything particular happen or just another sad day?

No - work has been fine. It's Steve not being around that's the problem.

Ya. That's a big problem. 

I'm tired of him being gone All. The. Time.

Ya.

I'm tired of being me without him.

You want the team back.

Yes!!! Tired of being alone.

I wish you weren't alone,
all the time.
I'm sure you wish it even more.

I want to hug him, and talk with him, and laugh with him, and cook with him, and call him, and sleep with him, and pray with him, and look at the moon with him, and on and on and on ................

Can't even imagine your life right now.
Just wish I could help take the loneliness away.

There is no life in my life now - that's the problem.

Yes indeed.  That is the problem.

And, I can't do one thing about it.

Nope. That's true.

It's so hard.

So very hard.
But, I'm so very proud of you.
I really like reading your blog.
It's some of your best writing.
It's raw.
It's honest.
It's emotional.
And, it's a blessing.
Every time.

It's just where I'm at.
But, thank you.

But, you don't have to share where you are at,
but you do.
It's a choice to let others read about your pain.
You do it beautifully while helping others deal with their pain.
It's a blessing.
And, I hope someday you will get to see the ripple effect.
The help you give others through your raw words.
So proud of you and your strength.

I always think "who would want to read this? Read about someone else's loss?"
I write because I have to
or I would either curl up and die
or explode.
Honestly.

Well keep writing!!!
Cause I don't want you to explode!


Me, neither.

I think your writing will be your survival tool through this journey.
And, a big blessing.
Maybe not now, but years to come.

Amazingly, I do get quite a bit of feedback from people going through their own heartache.
They thank me for - like you said - being honest
and giving a voice to feelings they can't explain.
Only God.

Yes!!!!!!!!!
You are a gifted writer.

I am trying my best to make it all count.
It has to count.
And, to do what Ruthie always told me to do -
"Use your gift, Stacy. Keep writing. I guarantee you people will keep reading."

She's right. Totally!

I love you, Laura.

I love you, too.  With my whole heart.

Thank you for always being there, for listening, understanding, being honest, cheering me on.
I'm SO thankful I still have you.

You always got me girl!!!!!
Just wish you had me closer!

Me, too.

We got to change that.

Yeah, maybe so.
I hate being here alone, but I'm afraid if I leave here the memories will fade,
or they might not be as many and as vivid as here.

No hurry. 
The answers will come at the right time.

I'm just praying for God to take care of it all.

Sounds like a good prayer.

And, He's a good God so down deep somewhere in my heart I know it's all going to be ok -
that I'm going to be ok.
Just don't always feel it.

Yes. He's going to take care of you.
He's got a plan.
He loves you more than me!
That's a lot!

Yep! Blessed me.

Love you.

Love you, too. SO MUCH.

I hope you get some good rest tonight.
I hope I get good sleep, too.
Up  with the baby from 10 - 1 last night.

He takes after his momma.
Night owl.
Hope you sleep well, too.
Here's to major zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs tonight!

Yes! Let's do that!

I feel more settled in my heart now after talking (and crying) with you.
Thank you.

I love you.
Want to be there for you.
Anytime.

I know you are there.

Anywhere.

You are.  Always have been.
Nite nite.

Nite nite.
Talk with you tomorrow.

You betcha.













Wednesday, May 11, 2016

When We Choose To Walk Into It~

Without even thinking about it,
without even deciding upon it,
without any anything at all,
it happens.

A word is spoken,
a memory is replayed,
a scent is experienced,
a song is heard -
and before you can stop it,
before you can derail it,
before you can do anything at all about it,
a flood of emotion billows up from the deepest place within
and spills out.

And sometimes,
sometimes, no one around you even notices.

But,
there have been those times,
when tears I have tried to keep hidden, buried, tucked neatly inside,
have been the very instrument through which I have felt the touch of God.

But only,
only when someone chooses to walk into my sorrow.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.

I was standing in the church foyer visiting with a group of elderly ladies.
Good mornings were shared,
hugs were given,
and laughter was heard.

The service began and not wanting to miss what was happening inside, the ladies - all but one and myself, headed into the sanctuary.

Left alone, the other woman looked at me and said,
"Stacy, do you realize all of us women who were just visiting here together are widows?"

And,
without even thinking about it,
without even deciding upon it,
without any anything at all,
it happened.

Before I could stop it,
before I could derail it,
before I could do anything at all about it,
a flood of emotion billowed up from the deepest place within
and spilled out. . .
just as a family was walking in.

I had had the honor of spending much of my early days as Director of Children's Ministries growing closer to Jesus with the children of this family.
Only now,
these children are well on their way to adulthood.

The first to see me
(who more than obviously was right in the middle of a conversation
and was busy walking and texting),
was the teenage daughter.
She gave me a super quick glance, a super quick smile, a super quick wave of her hand,
and then without missing a tap of her finger went right on back to her walking and texting.

But, then -
then there was her brother.

He, too, gave me a quick glance out of the corner of his eyes,
but the glance he gave was enough to see.

And,
without even thinking about it,
without even deciding upon it,
without any anything at all,
he headed straight to where I was standing,
and without saying a word,
not one word at all,
he gave me a hug.

Then, as quick as he had come, he headed into the sanctuary, and was gone.

And yet,
what he probably didn't realize,
what he probably doesn't know,
what he probably never even thought another thought about is this:

He purposely chose to walk into my sorrow,
and God used him to bring immeasurable comfort to my heart.

He could of looked the other way.
He could of pretended he didn't notice.
He could of walked on by.
But, he didn't.

And instead of me teaching him that day,
he taught me.

God can only work through us 
if we are willing to walk into the need he places before us.

Casually glancing at it isn't enough.
Nonchalantly acknowledging it isn't enough.
Quickly gesturing at it isn't enough.

To make a difference,
to truly be His hands and His feet,
we have to be willing to purposefully and intentionally walk into the need.

And when we do,
when we choose to head straight into it instead of speedily away from it,
God can use us to do what only He can do.

I know this to be true.

For that morning,
I felt the very arms of God wrapped around me.
All and only because,
this precious heart chose to walk into my sorrow.










Sunday, May 8, 2016

Just Being Honest~

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
~ Romans 12:15

This verse has always been a tough one for me. Just being honest.

I have no problem with the latter part of the verse.
When sorrow comes into the lives of those around me,
tears flow naturally,
and the pain of others instantly becomes my pain.
Their heartache breaks my heart.

But, (and I am ashamed to admit this) the rejoicing does not come as easy.

Mother's Day is a tough day for me.
Just being honest.

Thankfully, my mother is still alive, so it is not her loss that I grieve.
Sadly, it is the loss of three unborn little ones that brings tears to my eyes and tears to my heart.
It is also the death of a lifetime dream to be a "mommy" that makes this day of celebrating other Mommies so very hard.

Mother Kissing New baby Daughter
{Photo Credit}

And yet,
God has commanded me to rejoice with those who rejoice....
and today.... there were mothers rejoicing!



Rejoicing in the blessed gift of their children.
And, I rejoiced with them.


How precious to be a mother.


How miraculous to be used by God to create another life.


How motherhood naturally calls for celebration and rejoicing.


I, too, rejoiced! 
From the very depths of my heart!


But, only after I  had shed my own tears and once again placed my broken dream and my broken heart in the hands of my precious Jesus. After all, He is the creator of my heart, and little by little, He is re-creating my heart.

As he molds me and makes me more and more like Him, the rejoicing for others, even in the midst of my own pain, comes easier and easier.

And you know what?

As I rejoiced with those blessed to be called "mom", my heart started to smile, too.
And, I felt God's healing touch.

No wonder we are instructed to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep. In doing so, we are not only given the amazing privilege of sharing the joy and shouldering the burden, but we also find our own healing. What a wonderful God we serve!

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful, precious mothers.
I hope you had a joy-filled day,
sweetened with heavenly blessings,
from start to finish.

Just being honest.~

Heavenly Father,
At a time when my heart searches for answers to "how come?" and "why me", thank you that I can find healing and joy in celebrating your goodness with others who have received from your hand. Your ways are not our ways, and for this I am truly grateful. You are my Abba Daddy who loves me and knows what is best for me. May I rest in your unselfish love for me and continue to find joy by focusing on others, happy or sad, and being there for them. In Jesus' name, Amen~








Saturday, May 7, 2016

Love in a Parking Lot~

Have you ever happened upon something,
something so precious,
something so indescribably beautiful,
something so breathtakingly,
awe-inspiring that you felt as though you shouldn't be seeing it?

That this moment was something so unique and so exquisite your presence there didn't belong?
That you were intruding?

I happened upon such a moment while waiting in a drive thru.

I was in a hurry. Isn't that most usually the case whenever one finds his or her self in a drive thru line? Tapping my fingers on the steering wheel in an effort to "move things along", I happened to glance to my right. That's when I saw it.

Love in the parking lot.

No, my eyes didn't catch a teenage couple getting a little too friendly. And no, I didn't gaze upon an elderly couple holding hands, still showing the sparks of romance after all these years. My eyes happened upon an elderly lady and who I assumed to be her daughter, dancing their way across the expanse of the parking lot.

Like poetry in motion, their feet slowly shuffled to the beat of the love between their hearts.
Step by step, motion by motion, move by move, these two were in sync.
If was obvious they had danced before.
In fact, dance was most likely their main mode of transportation.

The elderly lady, who no doubt had walked many a mile over her lifetime, could no longer walk on her own.  The passing of time had stolen her independence, her strength, her balance, her dignity. Now, arms that once carried children and hands that gently wiped away tears were wound tightly around another. The one who had been carried now carried them both.

The mother rested the weight of her body on the daughter, heart to heart; their bodies pressed together in a oneness that proved they had been waltzing for many years. Like two lovers gliding across a ballroom floor, this mother and daughter elegantly and oh so, slowly, made their way to across the asphalt.

As I watched, time stood still.
I was mesmerized by their movement.
I was captured by their grace.
I was challenged by their synchronized sway and two feet,
purposefully and yet, naturally moving as one.


As I watched, my heart was drawn to the Lover of my Soul, Jesus.


I could hear His invitation to dance.
I could see His outstretched, nail-scarred hand.
I could feel the strength of His heart as I began to lay the weight of my life,
the weight of me, the weight of my own heart on his.
I could taste the freedom of release as I let go and surrendered to His leading.
I could smell the fragrance of grace as we became one,
heart to heart,
dancing in unison across the span of life and on into eternity....


A honk from the car behind me jolted me back to reality,
back to the errands at hand,
back to life.


The younger lady turned her head in my direction and quickly I turned away,
hoping she hadn't seen me seeing the two of them, staring, with tears in my eyes.

As I paid for my order and waited for change, I stole one more glance over my shoulder.

As I drove away, I knew I would never be the same.