Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An Open Invitation~

I've sat in her chair more times than I can count,
and yet, not nearly as often as I would like.

She, the artist -
my hair, her canvas.

As she paints away the dull gray,
and adds definition, highlight, and color with each stroke of her brush,
we pour open our hearts in conversation,
and explore the colors of life.

All the colors-
the oranges, pinks, and purples of laughs, celebrations, and blessings,
the reds, blues, and yellows of every day living,
the greens and browns of changing seasons,
and all the mixed hues of all the moments nestled in between.

We laugh,
and we cry.

We ponder,
and we reflect.

We challenge,
and we console.

We confirm,
and we convict.

And, we see God in the midst of it all.

Through her situations and circumstances and mine.
Through her trials and challenges and mine.
Through her blessings and rejoicings and mine,
Through her laughter and tears and mine.

And although it is my hair that has brought us together,
it is our love for the Lord that makes our time together so precious.

For more times than not,
as I sit in her chair,
feeling the stroke of her hand through my hair,
I hear the very voice of God speaking through this heart,
this willing vessel who is
open to His leading,
open to His teaching,
open to His instructions,
open to His precious Holy Spirit.

More than a place to revive and freshen up the look of my hair,
this is a place,
where each and every time I am there,
God revives and refreshes the deepest places of my heart.

It's why today,
when my heart was so overwhelmed with grief,
and my tears would not stop falling,
instead of making my way home,
I made my way straight to her salon,
straight to her work station,
straight to her open arms,
straight to her heart.

"Come by anytime. I'm always here.  Even if you just need a hug. Stop by. Come. Honest."

As she spoke these words to my heart the last time I sat in her chair,
I knew they were not just words casually thrown into the final moments of our visit.

I knew these words were words I could tuck down in my heart
and pull out in a moment when I needed something and someone to pull me back out of my sorrow.

I knew these were words that gave me
permission to boldly walk in at anytime and
permission to boldly interrupt at any moment.

I knew these were words that meant exactly what they said.

So today, I did.
I walked in and I interrupted.

And, I found the peace and the solace my heart was so desperately in need of,
because once again,
God was there in the midst of it all.

And when two or three of you are together because of me, 
you can be sure that I'll be there.
~ Matthew 18:20 (MSG)


Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 
If one person fall, the other can reach out and help.
 But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 (NLT)

I've sat in her chair more times than I can count,
and yet, not nearly as often as I would like.

And, today,
a chair wasn't even needed,
just an open invitation,
and a heart ready to answer the call.












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Monday, March 28, 2016

Angry? Here's a Plan~

What do you do when angry gets on you
so thick you feel it in every single muscle and every single part of your body?

What do you do when angry gets a hold of you
so tight you feel it strangling the very breath out of you?

What do you do when angry gets full reign of your thoughts and emotions
so completely it flings you every which way but loose?

What do you do when angry gets the better of you
and leaves you with nothing but worse?

What do you do when angry gets you?

All of you?

Every last bit of you?

You remember the words found in Ephesians 4:26.
Words that were written not only upon the pages of Holy scripture, but written upon your heart.
Words you have tucked deep inside the deepest part of your heart for a time such as this.

You wield your sword of the Spirit and you stand your ground against the enemy of your soul.
The very one hoping you
let anger win,
let anger sin,
let anger fling wide open the entrance to your heart and life.

You be angry, but sin not.
You don't let the sun go down on your wrath.

You fall to your knees and you cry out to your God.

"Help me, God."

You take hold of that which is trying to take hold of you
and you place it all in the hands of your God.

Because,


if


you


don't,


you give place for Satan to barge right in.

It's why Ephesians 4:26 was written -
to protect you and I and to warn us about the devil lurking in the Ephesians 4:27 places of our life.

26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath
 (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) 
last until the sun goes down.
27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].

If we don't deal with our anger,
if we don't give it up before the sun goes down,
if we don't drive it out of us before it drives us to sin,
if we don't let it go and let God take control of it,
it becomes
an invitation,
a welcome sign,
a "come on in and create havoc in my life",
a golden opportunity,
for the devil.

What do you do when angry gets
so close to consuming the very all of you?

You give it ALL to God.

Every last bit of it.

You live out Ephesians 4:26.

You open your heart to God.
You invite His Spirit
to flood over you,
to cleanse you,
to release you,
to set you free,
and in turn,
to shut,
to bolt tight,
to completely secure,
the door to your heart.

You leave Satan on the outside looking in.
Ineffective.
Unable.
Defeated.

You give up your "angry" to God,
so that the only one angry then,
is the devil, himself. ~♥







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Thursday, March 24, 2016

This Is Love~

Your legs looked beautiful today.

We're sitting at a restaurant, chipping and dipping, waiting for our meal to arrive. As the words of my husband float from my ears to my heart, my eyes begin to fill with love. Somehow, love takes a turn and expresses itself in a smile before one tear is shed.

He looks up from the table and smiles, too.

They did.

I know it is love talking because my legs are not beautiful.

Two hours earlier my legs were the reason we found ourselves at the local hospital. Poor circulation has left its mark on my left leg. Discolored skin. Unsightly blue markings. Lifeless scars from past wounds.

As I underwent an extensive ultrasound on both legs, my husband sat across the room. From the place where I rested, I could only see his shirt tail peeking out beneath the sonogram machinery that separated us, but it was enough.


This is love.

Human love.

And. it. is. beautiful.


Summer Love [Explored]
{Photo Credit}


No wonder divine love is beyond my comprehension.

Only God could looked at this girl and find beauty.


Sins of pride, jealousy, anger, (to name only a few) have left marks of their own, marring and disfiguring. Selfishness and resentment have left bruises and scars.


Ugliness abounds.


And yet, as I follow in His footsteps, My God is there.

As I look toward Heaven,
I see a glimpse of my Father God,
peeking out beneath the world which no longer separates us,
and it is more than enough.

As I look in His Word,
I see a glimpse of my Jesus, my Savior,
peeking out beneath the sin which no longer separates us,
and it is more than enough.

As I look in the mirror,
I see a glimpse of His precious Spirit,
peeking outbeneath my own ugliness which no longer separates us,
and it is more than enough.


This is love.


Divine Love.


And, it. is. beautiful.








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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

By Way of the Cross~


Awkward 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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Sunday, March 20, 2016

When You Spot It~

I love spotting elk as they majestically meander their way through the tall pine trees of their mountain home.

But, even more than this, I loved spotting my husband spot elk.

There was something about
seeing the sheer delight and excitement on his face,
feeling the sudden jerk of his foot on the brakes,
hearing "There's one! See it? Right there! Look! There's two of them - a momma and her baby!"
and experiencing his experience in this experience that thrilled my heart no end.

One night, (well, technically, I suppose 3:00 am would be considered one morning),
my elk loving husband and I took a leisurely drive down a lone mountain road in hopes of spotting these majestic animals out on a "midnight" stroll.

As we slowly made our way down a back mountain road through the forest, we were not disappointed.

One after another, we spotted an elk here and an elk there -
tucked behind trees,
nibbling on grass growing near the road,
sauntering down a stately hill,
gracefully leaping over a fence.

And each and every time my husband delighted in spotting one of these kings of the forest,
I delighted in his delight.

And, right there - in the middle of this mid of the night moment, I realized this:

I love spotting God in the midst of my life.

But, even more than this, I love spotting others spot God in the midst of their life.

There is something about
seeing the sheer delight and excitement on their face,
feeling the sudden burst of emotion,
hearing "And then, God . . . , But, then God . . . , And, I knew it was God who . . . ",
and experiencing their experience in this experience that thrills my heart no end.

Because you see, when my husband spotted an elk and everything in him responded to this sighting,
it stirred up a response it me, too.

When his heart started beating faster, and his words started coming quicker, and his actions mirrored the thrill he was feeling inside, I felt it, too.  All of it. And, it made me want to keep peering into the darkness, keep driving mountain roads at 3:00 am, keep believing beyond hope that the elk were there in our midst, just waiting to be spotted.

And when a friend, a family member, a casual acquaintance, a stranger on the street, a brother or sister worshiping on the pew next to me spots God and everything in him or her responds to this sighting, it stirs up a response in me, too.

When a heart starts feeling His presence, and tears start flowing down cheeks, and what I see is mirroring the emotion that is being felt inside, I feel it, too. All of it.  And, it makes me want to keep peering out into my own life, keep following wherever God is leading, keep believing beyond hope that God is there in my midst, just waiting to be spotted.

When was the last time you spotted an elk moving through the forest?

More importantly,
when was the last time you spotted God moving in and around your life?






Just like the elk in the mountains,
He is there.



He is ever present.



He is ever moving



He is ever at work in our life.







Maybe,
just maybe,
it's time to do some spotting of your own.~







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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sometimes, It Takes Some Time~

He pats the dirt one more time,
(just because, I think)
then, looks at me and smiles.

"There you go, Beautiful. Now, you have a lilac bush of your own!"

And, I have to laugh, and cry, and hug him all at one time.

Calling it a bush is faith in action.
For what I see, sticking out of the ground before me, is a clipping.

Stopping by his mother's house, earlier in the day, I had breathed in deep the aroma of fresh lilac blossoms exploding from her lilac bush.

"Oh, I love lilacs! They always remind me of my childhood and walking through the front gate at my Grandma's house. I wish we had a lilac bush."

And with that, my love had reached down into his pocket, pulled out his pocket knife, and clipped a clipping.

Now, here we stood, welcoming our own lilac bush.

Each year the clipping grew, sprouting more limbs and more leaves, but sadly, no blossoms.

One year went by.
Two years went by.
Bigger and bigger the lilac bush grew, but still no blossoms.

"It takes time, Beautiful," my husband would gently remind me.  "Remember, it started out as a little clipping. Once this bush matures, it will blossom.  It just takes time."





Three years went by.
Four years went by.
Five years went by.




And, then,


suddenly and amazingly,


this week it is happening.



The blossoms I have been waiting for are appearing for the very first time.
Only,
I'm the only one to see them.

My love, who lovingly planted the small, tiny, clipping passed away before he ever saw the "fruit of his labor". Knowing this, causes a sea of emotion to billow up inside me and escape in tears.

Not owning a pocket knife of my own,
I go into the house and come back outside, scissors in hand.
And, I clip the small limb showcasing this "miracle".

I bring it inside and place it in a small vase,
small enough to carry with me,
wherever I may be -
at the kitchen table,
seated on the couch,
or tonight,
asleep in bed.

And I think about my Grandma,
the very one who these aromatic blossoms remind me of.
How she prayed night and day, day and night,
and all hours in between,
for my Grandpa.

My Grandma longed for nothing more than for my Grandpa to come to know and love Jesus the way she did.  Modeled out before him, in the day to day living of her life, my grandma preached the gospel without using words.  Her humility and sacrificial love, her patience and unending kindness, her forgiveness and unconditional love - this is how I first caught a glimpse of Jesus.  It's a huge part of the reason I still see Him so vividly in my life today.

And, then,


suddenly and amazingly,


it happened.


My Grandpa started attending church.
He started learning about God.
And, before long, he was baptized.
Only,
he, my mom, my two sisters and me,
were the only ones to see it.

Grandma, who lovingly planted the small, tiny, seeds of faith into his heart, passed away before she ever saw the "fruit of her labor".

And, I'm starting to understand more,
this principle of sowing and reaping.
How something planted in faith,
and nurtured in prayer,
will reap a harvest.
It's simply a matter of when.

I'm also starting to understand, too,
that the planting isn't always for us.
Sometimes, (most times it is beginning to seem)
the planting is for them.
It is for those who come behind,
those who come after,
those who come down the road,
around the next bend,
as the next generation.

Regardless of whether or not we see the fruit,
regardless of whether or not we are around to see the outcome,
what we planted
can and
very well may
come to fruition.





"It takes time, Beautiful," my husband would gently remind me.  " . . .  It just takes time."










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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nothing Between~

I've felt it before.

This sunset only stirs up the ache once again.

I feel it every time a breathtaking sunset
or a gorgeous moonset are happening before my very eyes-
only this neighborhood that I live in,
comes in-between.



You see,
on the other side of these houses,
far to the west,
is a mountain range.

Can you imagine this sunset minus the houses?

Sady,
imagine is what I do most often.
And, while I am so very thankful for the view that I do have,
it makes me long for nothing between.

Nothing between.

I've felt it before.

Today,
(and yesterday,
and all last month,
and especially losing my Handsome Honey)
only stirred up the ache again.

I feel it every time I feel God's presence so deep within my spirit I long
to reach out and feel His embrace,
to take hold of His hand,
to be right next to Him -
only this world that I live in
comes in-between.

You see,
on the other side of this human existence,
in a celestial home waiting just for me (and you),
is my precious Jesus.

Can you imagine fellowshipping with our precious Savior minus the world?

And yet,
until then,
imagining being face to face with Jesus is all I can do.
And, while I am so very thankful for the communion I do have,
it makes me long for nothing between.

I have a feeling
the beauty of who He is
leaves you longing for
nothing between, too.~♥












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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Your God Will~











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Sunday, March 6, 2016

How Could I?

Really, a word is just a word until it moves into your life.

Until you experience a word,
it is simply consonants and vowels strategically placed in an order that conveys a meaning.

Webster's dictionary can convey all it wants,
but most words are left meaningless until
an experience in life
defines the meaning not with letters
but with
an emotional reaction.

Take the word "grieve", for instance.

Dictionary.com defines grieve like this:
to feel great sorrow

Words on a page
until,
in less than a minute,
a heartattack
leaves you separated from the love of your life.

Words on a page,
until,
in less than a minute,
a phone call tells of the tragic news.

Words on a page
until,
in less than a minute
a doctor's report places an "expiration date" on your life.

"It's ok, Stacy. Give yourself permission to grieve," a well-meaning friend tells me.

"Your ongoing tears are the way your body needs to grieve," another friend tells me.

"You will grieve for a little while, but not forever," a sister in Christ tells me.

"You have to grieve. If you don't, you won't heal, Stacy," another friend tells me.

And, I think about this word that has suddenly become synonymous with me: grieve.
How I don't like it,
how it doesn't seem to fit,
how it and I are not compatible at all.

How, if I could, I would run away from it as fast as I could and as far as I could.

And yet,
like it or not,
how it is now embedded within me.

And how,
I would not even wish this word,
this emotional reaction,
this "grieve"
on my worst enemy.

Then, my eyes stumble upon these words in Ephesians 4:30:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (NKJV)

Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
(MSG)

Words on a page,
until,
in less than a minute
a sin causes you to become separated from your God.

For it is separation that causes us to grieve.

And, I think of the way,
uninvited,
the need to grieve came barging into my life.

And, I think, too,
of the way,
by my own choosing,
I have allowed
my sinful actions or reactions,
to barge into the heart of my God
and grieve His precious Spirit.

And,
I realize more than ever
the high cost of sin,
and all that is wrapped up in the word "grieve",
and how I never ever, ever want to make
the precious Holy Spirit experience this word.

When "grieve" entered my life,
I didn't have a choice.
I do,
however,
have a choice as to whether
"grieve" will be a result of my life.

To make the most precious part of my life,
the Holy Spirit,
grieve -
now,
knowing full well what the word grieve means-
how could I?

How could you?









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Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Note About Yesterday's Post~


For all my faithful email subscribers -

Yesterday's post entitled, Perfect Words, should have included a voice mail message.  If this did not come through in your email, please follow this LINK. 

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading,
and most especially,
for continuing to lift me in your prayers.

I am so blessed by you-






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Perfect Words~

Sometimes,
most times in fact, 
I am completely overwhelmed and come completely undone 
by God's indescribable love for me.

Yesterday, 
well, there are no words,
but this story needs to be told
so here I go.

Unlike any other day since February 4,
the desire to hear my husband's voice was overwhelming.

Next to God,
he was my voice of reason,
the one who would fan the flame of my faith when it started to grow dim.

A month without him
found me needing both,
and needing so desperately to hear his voice, 
which always, always, always brought such clarity and peace.

"Oh, Lord - I just need to hear his voice."

Leaving work at noon,
spent and cried out,
I put on work clothes and headed out into my yard.

As I raked and watered,
I kept crying out to God.

"It's been so long, Lord.  28 days.  I haven't heard my Handsome Honey in 28 looooooong days."

Then, out of the blue,
(and no doubt, straight from Heaven)
my phone,
tucked deep in my back pocket,
sounded an alert.

I took off my gardening gloves,
reached for my phone and discovered this message:
Voicemail almost 100% full.

Of course, voicemail!
Why hadn't I thought of it before now?!

I immediately started scrolling through previous voicemail messages
until I spotted one from my man.
Hitting the play button and placing the phone to my ear,
I was beyond overwhelmed with the words that poured into my ear
and down deep into my heart.





Only God.

These were not just any words,
these were the perfect words my heart needed to hear.

Perfect words,
from a perfect God who is so intimately in love with us
that He will stop at nothing to meet the deepest needs of our heart.

As tears flooded my eyes
and mixed with the dirt on my face,
a joy and a peace
unlike any other day since February 4
flooded my heart.

Yes, God will use this for good.

Yes, I believe.

Yes, Lord,
You who grant the desires of our heart,
will stop at nothing to
make this count
for our good,
for Your kingdom,
for Your glory.

And while You do,
I have no doubt 
You will continue to pull out all the stops,
to go above and beyond
to hear the cries of my heart
and answer in ways that completely overwhelm me
and completely undo me.

It's who You are.

And me,
I am so blessed to be loved by You.










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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I Hear Him Still~

We sit across from each other,
my sister and I,
a plate of biscuits and gravy in front of us both.

As we say "amen",
we reach for our fork and "dive in".

Our conversation is light,
small talk at its best.
Just my sister and I,
finding our way through a season of grief.

As the conversation flows,
my sister asks me a question.
And while I can't remember what she asked,
I remember my answer,
and the unexpected laughter that followed.

"I don't know.  I'm not sure.  I think she may have, no wait, she might actually have... You know.  I really don't know."

Then, laughter.

With a tilt of her head,
and an eyebrow now raised,
my sister holds her coffee cup in midstream between the table and her mouth and asks,
"What's so funny?"

And, I tell her.

It is the voice of my husband from so many times past,
running through my mind,
as plain as if my man was seated beside me.

"T-H-A-T'S  R-I-G-H-T, Stacy. You don't know. Just say you don't know."
(which, if he would have been here to say it, would have been followed by a smirk distinctly his own and the twinkle of his eye.)

It's what he said each and every time I rambled on and on trying to come up with an answer I didn't truly know.

His reply always made me laugh.

And here,
in this season of deepest sorrow,
here,
even in his absence,
the memory of his words were able to stir up a laugh that even my broken heart couldn't escape.

When I needed a reminder of my love,
words he had spoken in the past were heard in my heart.

And I thought about the thin, crisp pages of my Bible
and all the precious words of my God written there.
How when I least expect it,
but need it the most,
words He has spoken through His written Word
run through my mind,
as plain as if my God was seated beside me.

In relationships: Love another as I have loved you.

In trials: Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

In decision-making: Acknowledge me and I will direct your paths.

In my mistakes: Confess your sins to me and I will forgive you.

In my fears: I didn't give you a spirit of fear. I gave you love, power and a sound mind.

In my day-to-day life: I am with you always.

One after another,
just when I need them,
God is faithful to bring to my remembrance
promises He has spoken to my heart in seasons past.

When I need a reminder of my God,
words He has written upon the pages of my heart
stir up my faith,
rekindle my strength,
gird my heart,
and bring a smile.

I am so thankful I can still hear the voice of my beloved husband in the memories of my mind.
His humor and love warm my heart still.

Yet, I am most thankful for my Heavenly Father,
the Giver of all good gifts,
the One who gave me the precious gift of my Handsome Honey,
the One who knows me better than I know myself.

It is HIS voice that leads me into the paths of righteousness.

It is HIS voice that leads me to my eternal home.

It is HIS voice I want guiding me each and every day.











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