Friday, January 27, 2017

A Season of Transition~

I thought it was the oddest place to be.

Well, maybe odd isn't the correct word,
but honestly,
when I tried to think of a word to describe the place I am now,
no word seemed to fit.

I realized this Wednesday night.

Seated in a room with twenty-five women,
all of us expectant as to what God would do over the course of the next 7 weeks
as we launched into a new Bible study together,
the facilitator asked us to take turns introducing ourself to the group.

"It doesn't have to be a lot.
Just tell us your name,
if your married,
if you have children or grandchildren,
where you work."

Thankfully, we started from the end of the circle farthest from where I was sitting.

It's not often that I find myself in a new place where introductions are needed.
And yet, in times past, when I have
I could usually answer at least 3 of the "mentioned suggestions" for introduction:
I had a name.
I had a husband.
I had a job.

This time around, I realized
(a slap of reality when I least expected it)
all I had was a name.

That's it.
A name,
Stacy Sanchez.

I love my name,
but it would take me less than 2 seconds to say it.
Then, what?

And, I know,
(and I hope you do, too)
we are all so much more than
our name,
our marital status,
our role as a parent or grandparent,
or our occupational title.

But, when this is the "norm",
the way we let others know who we are,
what do you say?

And, it's amazing,
how so many times,
when we think we are the ones being called upon to speak,
that it is God, Himself, using our very own words to speak to us.

My turn finally came.

"Ok, God," I whispered in my heart. "You're on. Please give me the words."

"Hi, my name is Stacy Sanchez
and I am in a season of transition.
I lost my husband 11 months ago,
and because of issues involved with losing him,
I lost my job several months later.
Right now, I am simply being still and waiting for God to show me what is next
after this season of transition.
I am so happy to be here."

The lady beside me began her introduction
and I hate to admit it,
but I have no idea what she said.

God was speaking, arresting my thoughts with the words "season of transition".

"Season of transition?" I thought.  "Lord, where did that phrase come from?"

And I felt God whisper, "Just tuck it in your heart, sweet girl.  Tuck it safely in your heart."

Fast forward to today, this evening, just an hour ago.

With a meal in front of me,
I had decided to sit in the living room,
a Christian television program as my dinner companion.

As I took one bite after another
and listened to one word after another of this spiritual teaching,
God, unexpectedly
(although with the Lord we should expect nothing less!)
gave me a familiar phrase to digest.

"This is for everyone who is in a season of transition.  God is simply using this season to transition you into your God-ordained destination. God is simply moving you from what has been your current identity to what will become your future destiny.  Don't think that where you are now is where you are going to stay.  Transition itself speaks of change."

I put my fork down.
I pushed my meal aside.
For the next hour,
I listened as this pastor gave one example after another,
from God's Holy Word,
of the principle of transition and God-ordained destination.

who transitioned from tending sheep to tending the children of Israel.

who transitioned from a pit, to a palace, to a prison, back to the palace.

who transitioned from plowing a field to plowing hearts using a double portion of God's Spirit.

And more than who I had ever been before,
God started to reveal to me
who I was becoming.

More than
my name,
my marital status (is widow a marital status?)
my lack of children and grandchildren,
my lack of an occupational title,
God showed me who I was becoming
in Him,
through Him,
because of Him.

There is something about speaking
what God says about who you are
that has an enormous
power releasing,
faith infusing,
hope rising

"Hi, my name is Stacy Sanchez 
and I am in a season of transition."

No longer did this sound weak to me.
No longer did this sound like someone floundering through life.
No longer did this sound without purpose or without hope.

And, I guess I am saying all of this,
to simply say this:

It's not so much about where we've been,
as it is about where we are going.

God is always doing a new thing.
He is Creator-God.
Creating, re-creating, -
this is what God does.

And really,
if we stop and think about it -
isn't our entire life
one season of transition
weaved together with
another season of transition
weaved together with
another season of transition,
on and on and on?

Isn't God,
in His creative, redemptive power,
lovingly and intentionally,
taking us from season to season,
so that in Him and through Him,
He might also take us from glory to glory? 

"Hi, my name is Stacy Sanchez
and I am in a season of transition."

I don't know what your name might be,
but if you are in a season of transition,
let me shake your hand,
and welcome you to the club.

"I am so happy to be here."

Sunday, January 8, 2017

When We Love Out Loud~

I was so blessed to be able to spend the last three weeks visiting my sister and her family. While together, we celebrated my birthday on December 19, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and cried my way through my husband's birthday on January 5th. Every day with her was precious and so good for my healing heart.

Imagine my surprise,
while visiting my sister,
to hear her doorbell ring,
only to see my sister go to her front porch,
pick up a package
and then bring it to me.

"For me?" I asked.    

She just smiled.

I opened the package and inside was this beautiful cup.

"Thank you, Laura."
I said to my sister.

"Oh, it's not from me, "
she quickly shot back.

Who else could it be from?" I asked.

"Look in the box, " she suggested.
"Maybe there's a note."

And, there was.

It was from a dear friend who has faithfully been walking beside me as I try to find my way through this season of grief and a new life without my husband.

"How did she know your address?" I asked my sister.

"She sent me a message request on Facebook."

Tears filled the corner of my eyes.
To think this friend would go above and beyond to seek out my sister,
to get the address of where I would be for my birthday and Christmas,
and send me a reminder
that she was still thinking about me,
still praying for me,
still walking with me.
I was beyond undone by her kindness.

Fast forward a few days later - same scenario - only this time we were at the group mailboxes in my sister's subdivision. Out came another package and again, my sister smiled and handed it to me.

This time, this special friend had sent a beautiful bracelet reminding me
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Again, I was completely undone by her gesture -
by the way she over and over again chooses to live her faith,
live her love for God and others out loud,
so beautifully, so extravagantly.

While I love both the cup and the bracelet,
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love her heart or
how much I love our precious Heavenly Father for the gift of her in my life.

It is my prayer this year that I will love like she does.

It is a big prayer, no doubt,
because the way she loves is without limits,
without bounds,
but isn't that the way God has called each of us to love?

And, when we do,
when we love like Jen does,
the love of God is seen, felt, and experienced in undeniable ways.

When we love like Jesus,
others feel His love.
And, take it from a heart that knows,
there is no other feeling like it in this entire world.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Tuxedo? Absolutely!

Did you see it?

Scrolling through Facebook a couple of days ago,
I ran across an article with a photo of a young man in a suit.

The snippet attached shared with the readers the special occasion that
(in this young man's eyes)
called for such formal attire
and had him looking his best.

His sister was having a baby,
and soon he would be welcoming his brand new niece into a brand new world.

According to this soon to be uncle,
"First impressions matter."

I had to smile.

And while first impressions definitely matter,
I couldn't help thinking the formal attire fit perfectly for this occasion,
but for an entirely different reason.

A new life -
what event could be more worthy of a tuxedo,
than that?

This is why I think my husband thought birthdays were so very special.

In our home,
birthdays automatically called for a day off.
Just like planning a vacation,
requests for these days off were submitted well in advance
so nothing,
not even our jobs,
would stand in the way of celebrating
the workmanship of God
by celebrating the life He had so meticulously created.

Balloons all over the house,
not one cake, but sometimes two,
not just a special dinner, but an entire day of
thanking God,
rejoicing in the gift of the one created,
a full-blown celebration.

And, today is his.

And, this has me missing him so very much.

But, it also has me overflowing with so much thanks:

- thanks to God for creating my man
- thanks to God for saving my man for me
- thanks to God for the blessings of having been his Mrs.
- thanks to God for all this man added to this world
- thanks to God for the blessing of sharing in his life

and thanks that while I am missing my man today,
I never missed an opportunity to celebrate God's creation of him.

Birthdays -
they aren't just another day of the week or month.

They. Are. Special.

They are worthy of celebration,
worthy of tuxedos,
worthy of stopping what we are doing
and giving thanks
and celebrating
in the most extraordinary ways.

you do know,
right -
that extraordinary doesn't necessarily have to mean expensive?

It doesn't cost anything to make someone feel loved and appreciated.

Words of affirmation, affection, "I love you", "I thank God for you" - free.
Hugs and kisses - free.
Time spent together - free.
Prayers of thanks - free.
Handwritten notes tucked into places all over the house to be discovered at just the right time - free.

my heart longs for nothing more
than to be able to spend this day with my man.
I am cherishing the memories of birthdays past
and finding joy in the moments spent together.

And my words to you -
this year,
in 2017,
purpose to go above and beyond to celebrate those in your life.

Break out the tuxedo,
take off a day from work,
pull out all the stops
and celebrate life.

Time is precious.

 A love in your life - even more precious.

you never know when,
you will no longer have either.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Don't Just Hear, Listen~

Why is it,
when we have clearly heard the voice of reason,
we foolishly choose not to listen?

turning a deaf-ear to wisdom
isn't particularly costly.
Sometimes, it is.

This morning,
standing at my sister's dining room window,
my camera in hand,
my usual southwest desert eyes
now farther north and feasting on a winter scene,
I heard the voice of reason.

Taking one photo after another,
all the while trying to capture the beauty on the other side of the glass,
I frowned when my camera beeped,
posted the words "exhausted battery" in my view finder,
and powered off.

Wanting to use up every last bit of my battery,
I turned my camera back on again.
I had learned while taking other photos
on other days
of other things,
that there are always a few more photos that can be taken on an "exhausted" battery.

only a few.
And, you never quite know when your few is up.

As I turned the camera on,
gambling on the remaining life of the current batteries
instead of replacing them with new,
I heard the voice of reason
in words my husband always told me
each and every time
I took this chance.

"Beautiful, just replace the batteries.  You are only going to get one or two more photos from those already in your camera. What if you end up missing a photo opportunity because at the very moment you decide to take an amazing photo your camera powers off? Why take that chance? Replace your batteries, Beautiful."

Standing at the window,
the snowy scene in front of me
and the wisdom of my husband behind me,
pecking me on my shoulder,
I smiled.

"I know, Handsome.  I know.  And, you're right. But, I don't want to waste one bit of these batteries. Just a few more photos and I'll change them."

Snapping a photo or two,
I put my camera down and just gazed outside.
And, that's when I saw it.
There, sitting on the fence,
a beautiful, fluffy tailed squirrel.

Quickly, I picked up my camera,
aimed at this amazing photo opportunity right before me
and  . . .
yep, you guessed it.

My camera powered off.
And then,
before I could even think about putting new batteries in,
my amazing photo opportunity wandered off.

I only had me to blame.

I wish I could say this only happens when I have my camera in hand,
but sadly, that's not the case.

More than my Handsome Honey spoke his wise words to me,
my precious Heavenly Father is always and forever speaking words of wisdom into my life.

Through the pages of His Holy Word,
through the prompting of His Spirit,
through the counsel of Godly friends and family members,
through the lyrics of a song of praise and worship -
all day long,
the voice of reason from my Heavenly Father is clearly heard.

And yet,
I don't always listen.
I don't always heed His counsel.
I don't always obey.

Call me a slow learner.
Call me stubborn and proud.
Call me foolish.

All apply.

And this morning,
as I watched the squirrel make his way down the fence and over into another yard,
I asked my Heavenly Father to help me not simply be content to hear,
but to be intentional to listen.

Missing a photo of a squirrel is no big deal.
Yes, I was disappointed.
Yes, I wished I had changed my batteries.
But, in the big picture of life,
my turning a deaf-ear didn't have huge consequences.

it was in this precious moment,
I realized anew
how gracious and kind my Heavenly Father is -
to teach me this lesson,
once again,
through a matter as tiny and as insignificant as this.

"My precious child",
in my spirit I heard Him speaking,
"heed the lesson I have for you this day.
When My voice of reason speaks,
Right then.
Every time."

And, I heard my spirit answering back.
"Yes, my precious Father.
You are always so faithful to speak.
Help me to not only hear,
but to be faithful to listen."

Still communing with my Father,
I removed the old batteries from my camera
and replaced them with new.
Then, I turned my gaze back out to the winter wonderland before me.

And, who do you suppose I saw?

Isn't that just like God?

Yes, indeed.
Oh, how He loves.