Thursday, July 28, 2016

Let Him Work~

Her words hit hard and heavy,
completely saturated with the Holy Spirit.

I had posted a post on my Heartprints of God Facebook page
only to remove it a few minutes later.

Choosing to work instead on a photograph,
I was tapped on the shoulder
by an alert notification
signaling I had received a message
on my Heartprints of God page.

The message was simply this:
Why did you remove your post?

I sat there speechless,
staring at the screen
and that three letter word,
why.

And, I knew in my heart,
as soon as my eyes glided over the very first word,
this question was being asked of me
by more than this curious Facebook friend,
it was being asked of me
by the Holy Spirit.

Why, Stacy?
Why
when I spoke these words to your heart
and prompted your heart to post it,
why
did you remove it?

I didn't have a good answer for this friend,
and I certainly didn't have a good answer for the Holy Spirit.

A few moments later,
my response back to both was simply this:
A moment of "insecurity" maybe?

A moment or two later,
I felt the chastisement of the Holy Spirit again in her words:
Don't deny us your gift of words God gave you.

It was a sting unlike any I have ever felt,
a rebuke and scolding to be sure,
but it was also chastisement in its most purest form.

For chastisement from the Lord
has one purpose in mind:
restoration.

Chastisement from the Lord is discipline with a purpose -
to turn our hearts towards obedience
so God can in turn turn our obedience into restoration,
a restoration that will in turn position us to fulfill our God-given destiny.

God has gifted me to write.
This is not something I have decided,
this is something God decided before I took my first breath.

And, I'm learning, too,
God has graced me to speak.
This, too, is not something I have decided,
this, too, is something God decided before I took my first breath.

For me to doubt His gift,
for me to choose to ignore His prompting to
share His words,
to tell His story through the living out of my own,
to remove a post He has told me to post -
is disobedience.

My God given gifts are not for me to do with as I choose,
but as He chooses.

My only appropriate response
now and always
is "yes, Lord."

And I am reminded once again.

Like a tool in the hand of a master,
the success of the mission is not dependent on us,
but on the Master.

It is not up to the tool to tell the Master what to do.
The successful completion of the task at hand
belongs totally and completely to the Master.

Like the tool,
our only responsibility is to be available,
to be willing to be used by The Master
whenever and however
He sees fit.

We are simply a vessel in His hand.

We can't worry about how God will work through us,
we just need to let God work.

We don't need to carry the weight of the mission
on our shoulders.
we just need to let God carry us through it.

We don't need to ponder and fret over and over
about what we think should be done or not done,
we just need to let God do what needs to be done.

It's not about me.
(It's not about you, either.)

We are simply a tool in the Hand of God.

He, and He alone, is the Master.

We simply need to let Him work.









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Thursday, July 21, 2016

When God Smiles~

God must have been sitting on the edge of Heaven just waiting for this moment.

He who delights in our delight
and who promises to give us the desire of our heart,
must have been ready to burst!

As I was organizing the items I will be taking with me to a speaking engagement this weekend, I reached for the same bag I used the last time I spoke.

Not surprisingly, (especially if you know me) when I opened it up and peered inside, I discovered it was still home to old notes, pencils, pens, tissue, and several different note pads. As I reached in and started pulling the old out so I could make room for the new, I found the most amazing treasure.

A note.

Not just any note.

A note from my Handsome Honey.


Not just any note from my Handsome Honey,
but a note he had lovingly (and sneakily) tucked into this very bag
two years ago
when I was heading to the mountains to speak  -
for the very first time,
at the very first women's retreat I had ever had the privilege to attend,
much less the honor of speaking at!




Moments before making this God-orchestrated discovery,
I had been on my knees,
leaning into the recliner where my husband always sat,
my head resting where his lap was supposed to be,
longing to hear his voice,
wanting so much to hold his hand,
and wishing I could look into his face.

As tears ran down my cheeks,
I wished for what quite possibly could be the millionth time
that he was here,
that he could speak words of encouragement,
that he could pray with me, pray over me, and pray me through.

After a few moments,
when I had cried my tears dry,
I surrendered for what quite possibly could be the millionth time
this second-guessing God's plan,
this wanting so desperately for my man to be present here,
this desperate desire to undo what God himself had so mercifully done.

As God's Spirit tenderly, yet powerfully, infused my inner man with strength,
I  headed to the bedroom to pack.

That's when it had happened.

That's when I had made this discovery.

And, I can't help thinking,
that when I did,
God, himself,
smiled a smile so big
all of Heaven must have seen it.

It wasn't my man,
but it was his words,
and having this to hold in my hand
was the next best thing to him being here.

And, I thought about how
so many times,
even before losing my husband,
I have been homesick for Heaven,
Not so much the place,
but for The One who makes Heaven, well - Heaven.

How,
when my heart longs to be near Him,
to reach out and hold His nail-scarred hands,
and climb up into His lap of love,
I do
what I can only do
this side of Heaven.

I reach for my Bible.
I reach for His love letter to me.
I reach for His words,
and having this to hold in my hand
and tuck into my heart,
is the next best thing to being face to face with my Abba Daddy.

And, I can't help thinking,
that every time I do,
reach for by Bible, that is,
or spend time in prayer with the Lover of my soul,
God, himself,
smiles a smile so big
all of Heaven must surely see it.






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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Until You Have~

I stood in the back of the wooden chapel.

It was the last worship service
of a week long full
of worship services and mountaintop experiences
at a Christian camp for 4th-6th graders.

When this worship service was over,
so was camp.
When we bowed our heads and said our final "amen"
we would all be loading into vans
and heading back home -
to wherever and whatever home might be.

For the last six years,
when the last day of camp was over,
my heart would be a little hesitant to come down off the mountain
and step back into the normal routine of life again.
Always, though, the joy and excitement of returning home,
of seeing my Handsome Honey,
and sleeping in our bed,
and sharing once again in the living of our life
balanced out the longing of wanting to stay on the mountain.

Not this year.

This year when I arrived home there would be
no one to greet me.
No one to ask about my week.
No one to hug and hold.
No one to listen to me re-tell story after story of God's moving on the mountain.

Only an empty house
and the unwelcome reality
that this year was not the same as years past and never would be the same again
would be there to welcome me home.

And, the thought of not having home to return home to
swelled up inside me so fast and so furious
I had to step outside of the chapel into the expanse of mountain air
just to find my next breath.

And, then the tears came -
SO many tears.

Tears for me, yes.
But honestly, this time -
tears for them, too.

For the children who had to leave this taste of heaven on earth
and return to a world that was not so pleasant -
to a place where they experienced unrest, turmoil, bullying, or fear.

Each year before,
as we made our way out of the chapel and towards the van,
I had seen tears in the eyes of some of the children.

As we would drive the road that wound us through the mountains
and led us back to our hometown,
I would pray for God to give me the words to comfort these children,
to help ease them back into the world that was their every day.

But, you don't truly understand what another is
feeling,
experiencing,
dreading,
until you have.

Knowing this year would be no different than years past for some of the children,
I made my way down the hill from the chapel
straight to the office of a precious, precious friend.
As soon as I saw her face,
I broke apart and again,
the tears came -
SO many tears.

And, she held me.
And, she held me some more.
And I cried for all of us -
for me,
for them,
for our broken world.

After the tears subsided -
this beautiful woman of God prayed for all of us -
for me,
for them,
for our broken world.

No, you don't truly understand what another is
feeling,
experiencing,
dreading,
until you have.

But, once you have -
ah, once you have . . .

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.  He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (Voice)

This time,
unlike any other time off the mountain before,
I was in their shoes.

This time,
unlike any other time off the mountain before,
I truly understood.

And this time,
unlike any other time off the mountain before,
I felt the God of all comfort,
surrounding me
as I in turn,
prayed and spoke words of His comfort to surround them.

And I discovered anew,
you can't tuly feel
the peace that passes understanding,
the comfort that comes from the Great Comforter,
the presence of God Himself,
until you have.

But, once you have,
you are able to give it to someone else.

And I realized once again,
that no matter how I may be feeling,
our God is bigger,
and our God is always with us.

The same God who was on the mountaintop
would come down from the mountain with us.
The same God who we felt among us
as we were among the tall pines,
would be among us below in the desert,
because our God
has chosen to make His home
inside us.

He would be with us.

His presence with us
didn't end once we climbed inside the church van
and buckled our seat belts.

No, His presence
would climb in with us
and follow us home.









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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Strength from Within~

For as long as I can remember,
I've known that I am a spiritual being living in a physical body.
That I was created with Heaven in mind,
but I am a citizen of earth
until that glorious day when I can change my physical address here
for my spiritual address there.

And for some reason,
(I'm not really quite sure why),
I've never truly grasped how my physical being and my spiritual being
are being lived out in my every day,
day to day living of my life.

Until recently, that is.

Until losing my husband.

My physical being misses my husband.

It physically misses his physical presence -
his touch, his laugh, his voice, his companionship.

It physically hurts from losing him -
soreness in every muscle,
fatigue in every waking moment,
a heartache that radiates through every inch of me.

It is my physical being that longs for him to be here with me still.
It is my physical being that mourns his passing, that feels the emptiness, that fights to go on.

But then,
there is my spiritual being.

When we become born again by His Spirit,
God graciously and amazingly,
places His Spirit inside of us,
in our inner man.
May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your heart through your faith.  And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God's people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God's presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].
Now to him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask of think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen. ~Ephesians 3:16-21 (AMP) 
It is my inner man,
filled with His Spirit
that is the core of
who I am,
and what I do.

And, I am discovering it is this part of me,
my inner man,
that
keeps stirring up my faith,
keeps mustering up my courage,
keeps praising my God,
keeps seeing His faithfulness,
keeps trusting His plan,
keeps stepping out,
keeps believing,
and keeps moving on.

It is my inner man that is upholding and sustaining my physical being.

It is my inner man,
empowered by His precious Holy Spirit,
that makes the difference in whether I lie down and give up,
or keep on keeping on.

And, I am reminded of the story of Jacob.
How Jacob loved Rachel with a love that was willing to work 14 years to win her hand in marriage.
How together, they had Joseph, but sadly, years later,
Rachel died giving birth to their second son, Benjamin.
So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath, (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day. ~Genesis 35:20
Jacob was heartbroken to be sure.
And I can't help thinking his physical being felt this loss
the same way I am feeling the loss of my Handsome Honey,
the same way you may be feeling a loss in your own life.

He placed in the ground the love of his life.
Then, he placed a memorial at the sight,
so she wouldn't be forgotten,
so her memory would live on.

And, I'm sure he wept tears.
And, I'm sure Jacob wondered what he would do now,
and how he would do what he needed to do now.

But then,
there is the spiritual being,
there is the part of us that has been touched and transformed by God's touch.

Sometimes when this happens we are given a new name
(as was the case with Jacob when God changed his name to Israel),
but all times when this happens
we are given a new identity in God,
an inner strength birthed in our inner man,
an inward movement of His Spirit
that leads us in an outward and forward direction.

Just look at Jacob.

Just look at the very next verse.

Jacob buried the love of His life,

but then . . .
Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. ~Genesis 35:21










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Friday, July 8, 2016

When Peace Rained Down~

I sat in the floor of the hallway, my hand doing what the rest of me wanted to do - rubbing this space of carpet where you last were, hoping so desperately to be able to touch you instead of these woven fibers. In my mind's eye, I could see you there, and I longed to hug you, to reach my hand out to you and lift you back up to your feet.  To hold you and be held by you.  To bury my head in your neck and be engulfed by your scent and wrapped in your arms.
But instead, I found myself alone with carpet, an empty doorway leading to the bathroom, and a whole lot of questions and a heart spilling over with wishes.  And, I cried.  And, then I moaned.  And, then my sorrow turned to out loud wailing.  I couldn't stop it.  How do you suppress a force stronger than the ocean?  So, I let it all out.  For the umpteenth time since you've been gone, Handsome, I sat where you were last and I wept til I could hardly breathe.
Only today, Handsome, I didn't weep alone.  As I surrendered to the weight of my missing you and rolled off of my knees onto my back, looking up at the ceiling, I heard it.  Sprinkled in with my sobs, I could hear the pitter-patter of rain drops on the skylight in the bathroom.  And, I knew down in the deepest place of my heart, this wasn't a brief afternoon shower, this was the very God of Heaven weeping with me.
It brought me to my feet and straight out to the patio.  As the droplets fell from the sky, so did my tears.  For the first time since you've been gone, God and I cried together.  His sorrow not removed from my own, but right there in the hallway and right there on the patio with me.
And I remembered the story of Lazarus and the tears God wept then.  Not tears because He was supposedly too late and Lazarus was dead, but tears that flowed from a heart overcome with the sorrow spilling out of the hearts of Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha.  The very same God who knew in the next few moments Lazarus would walk in newness of life wept tears with those who wept.  He was touched by their sorrow.  And tonight - like I'm sure every moment since you've been gone, God was touched by my sorrow.  I know because my spirit  - which is home to His Spirit in me - testified to this very fact.
And the comfort that came as my tears intermingled with these droplets of Heaven can not be explained.  There is not a word in this world to capture the moment, to describe the communion, to adequately convey the immersion of my sorrow into His and His into mine.
The Most High God came to me in my most low moment and wept with me.  Not tears because He was supposedly too late and you are gone, but tears that flowed from a heart overcome with the sorrow spilling out of my heart.  The very same God who knows in the blink of an eye this life will be over and we will be together face to face for all eternity wept tears with me while I wept.
Our creator God, the very one who bent low and scooped dust in His hands to form the first man, remembered I am dust.  The Breath of Life, the very one who breathed into each of us the breath of life, knew how sorrow and death and separation from you makes taking my next breath feel impossible sometimes.  Our Abba Daddy, the very one who loves me with a love that knows no end, who understands my heart like no one else, and who understands the true extent and depth of my grief, felt my overwhelming sorrow.
He remembered.
He knew.
He felt.
And, He wept with me.
And then, the great I am, oh so gently, and yet, oh so very powerfully, reminded me of this truth:
Resurrection and Life 2-
And, as the raindrops and the tears flowed down my cheeks, my praise flowed upward and outward from a heart overflowing with hope and thanksgiving.  They met in the middle - sorrow and praise, grief and thanksgiving - and out of their union, peace rained down.
Beautiful peace.
Not the peace the world gives, but the peace that can only be found in the blessed hope we have in and through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
What a precious moment.  What a precious Savior.
If only you could have been here to feel it.  If only you could.
(Sharing from my other blog, "If Only I Could . . .")






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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On Fighting Giants~

Lately, I've been feeling a little bit like David going out to fight Goliath.

I say a "little bit"
because unlike David,
I am finally learning,
I have been approaching the fight from all the wrong angles,
and in all the wrong ways.

Actually,
if truth be told,
the only semblance to David
that I can claim as my own
is the fact that I am face to face with a giant. (Grief)

Because you see,
unlike David,
when others come to me,
placing their suit of armor over my shoulders,
on top of my head,
and belted round my waist,
I let them.

Their intentions are good,
no doubt,
and they are only trying to protect me with what seemed to work for them,
but like David knew,
and I am learning, too,
their armor won't work for me.
It is cumbersome, ill-fitting, stifling,
and only serves to stand in my way
and hold me back.

Advice.
Comments.
Remarks.

Their armor only leaves me wondering what I am doing wrong,
why I can't seem to operate they way they supposedly did,
and why I am feeling so clumsy.

Trying to wear their armor into my battle
honestly,
makes me feel defeated before I even start.

I can't fight my battle hiding behind what worked for them.
I have to fight my battle with what works for me.

And because,
unlike David,
when the enemy flexes his muscles,
and struts his giantly stuff,
I tend to forget past battles,
and past victories,
and instead,
I see only him.

My concentrating on the enemy at hand seems smart,
no doubt,
but like David knew,
and I am learning, too,
it is when we remember how God led in battles of the past,
that we find the courage to step out into the battles of now.

I can't let what I am facing now blind me to what I have faced then.
I can't allow the fear of this new giant to defuse the faith that was stirred up when God slew giants in the past.

And because you see,
unlike David,
when the giant I am fighting
taunts me into coming closer,
drawing me ever nearer and nearer,
strategically placing me on his playing field,
within easy reach,
I listen to him.

My heading straight toward my giant seems valiant,
no doubt,
but like David knew,
and I am learning, too,
the enemy can't hurt me if he can't reach me.
If I only approach for a short distance,
draw a battle line,
and refuse to cross it,
I am the one with the advantage.

Goliath, who fought with a sword,
needed David to come close.
David, who fought with a slingshot,
only went as far as was needed to be within slingshot range.

I can't win my battle by marching straight up to my enemy,
and fighting him face to face.
I can only win if I keep my distance,
fight in the name of Jesus,
place The Rock of my Salvation in my slingshot and take aim.

Yes, I am feeling a little bit like David,
fighting this giant named Grief.
But if I take notes,
if I watch, observe, and learn
from this man after God's own heart,
I think I will one day win this battle.

Not by fighting the way someone else has or did,
not by forgetting the way God has fought for me in the past,
not by trying to face it head on and up close and personal,
but simply
(and victoriously!)
by keeping my distance,
drawing a battle line,
standing my ground,
and fighting in the name and the power of Almighty God.










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