Friday, November 17, 2017

When We're Ready . . . or Not~

I never really knew
just how ready he was
until today.

One year, nine months, and thirteen days -
this is how long it has taken me
to get up the heart
to tackle emptying out
my husband's truck.

And by emptying out,
I mean that in every sense of the word.
You see,
my man's truck wasn't just a form of transportation,
it was his own personal, small, on-hand storage center.

This Chevy with an extended cab
was jam packed with all the things
that made him, him.

A Bible (the very first one he ever owned)
Toothpicks (he always had one in his mouth)
A pine cone
A can of Fix a Flat
Cards from me
2 camou caps
A tarp
Emergency Kit
Toothpicks (he loved toothpicks!)
Trinkets that belonged to his mother
Forest Service maps
A bottle of automatic transmission fluid
Protective eye wear
Small bottle of cologne
2 hunting jackets
Filled water bottles
Toothpicks (have I mentioned toothpicks?!)
2 small saws
Pop up chair
Can of WD-40

To name just a few.

opening the door and climbing inside today
was like stepping inside a museum of my man.

As I tenderly removed each item
I thought back to
hunting trips,
fishing trips,
and woodhauling trips,
where inevitably,
each time before he drove out of the yard
I always asked,
"Are you sure you're ready?
Do you have everything you need?"

"Yes, Beautiful.  I'm ready.
Trust me. I'm more than ready.
I've got everything I need."

And, I did trust him.

But, today,
as I laid hands
on all that showed he was ready,
I truly knew it to be so.

My man had been ready.

And, I couldn't help thinking back
to past conversations I had overheard
as my love spoke on the phone with his father,
who was in his 90s.

"Your bones hurt?
And, you want to go to the doctor to find out why?
Here, I'll save you some time and money.
You're old.
That's why your bones hurt, Pop.
{Insert his throw back your head
and laugh with everything you have laughter here}
It's just part of life.
My bones hurt and I'm not anywhere close to 90!
No - when my time comes,
I'm ready.
Anytime God wants,
trust me,
I'm more than ready."

And, I don't know if his Pop trusted his words,
but I did.

And, I couldn't help thinking back
to that night
one year, nine months, and thirteen days ago.

When a call from him
while I was at my office
found me driving home at record speed
only to walk through the front door
to the sound of silence.

I'll never forget that moment -
the moment I saw him lying
motionless in our hall bathroom.

And, I'll never forget his face -
a face radiant with the joy of the Lord,
a face filled with peace,
so much peace.

As I knelt down beside him
and tenderly held him close,
I laid hands
on all that showed he was ready,
and I truly knew it to be so.

"Yes, Beautiful.  I'm ready.
Trust me. I'm more than ready.
I've got everything I need."

And, he did.
For He had the one
who died that he might one day live again.

He had the blessed hope
of life everlasting with Jesus, our Lord.

My man had been ready.

And, I couldn't help thinking about me,
in that moment.

My man knew he was ready,
but me,
I didn't know I was, -

ready to be without him,
ready to do life alone,
ready to be a me after being a we,
ready to face all that was up ahead,


when I least expected it
and the time came,
in that very moment of not being ready at all,
not one bit ready,
my already-trusting-God-with-my-life heart
reached out and laid hands
on all the promises of God,
and I trusted HIM.

I believed HIS word.

And in that moment,
and in every moment since,
I have truly known HIM to be so.

One year, nine months, and thirteen days,
and my God has been with me every second of the way.

Just like He was today,
as I,
in one more tear-dropping way,
let go of what was -
all the while
holding on even tighter to
what one day will be.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Changing of the Seasons~

I wrote this post for Incourage
only a few short months
before losing my Handsome Honey.

As I typed the final period,
I asked my man
to come into the bedroom
so I could read it to him.

"Did you get it, Beautiful?"

"I don't know," I said.
"I'm not sure if I should submit it.
What if they don't like it?"

"Then, they won't choose it," he answered back,
"But, if they do
and it's God's will,
it will happen.
And hey,
you miss 100% of the shots
you don't take."

I wasn't surprised
he threw in that famous quote.
It wasn't the first time
he had tossed it in my direction.

"Let me hear it."

I don't know why, -
maybe because he wasn't a computer guy,
or maybe because I never asked him to,
but, he had seldom read any of my writing.

When I finished reading the post to him,
he just stood there for a bit.
Then, clearing his throat and wiping a tear,
he said, "That's good. Really good.
These words God gave you
can bless someone.
Send it in."

Last night,
(well, actually, I guess 12:08 AM would be morning)
as it came up in my "On This Day" Facebook memories -
a reminder that I had shared it
on my personal Facebook page
the day it was posted on the Incourage website -
I sat alone in my mom's kitchen,
missing my man
with a missing
that can take your breath away,
re-reading these words once again
and remembering that night
two years ago.

And, as usual,
my man was right:
- I would have missed this shot
if I wouldn't have taken it
these words God gave me
did bless someone, -
last night.

(You can read the post I submitted and had accepted HERE.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

When You are Smushed and Squeezed~

It seems to me
if a ketchup packet is labeled a ketchup packet,
when you smush it and squeeze it
until it can't take the pressure one bit more,
ketchup should squirt out.

It's just right.
It just makes sense.

And, that's what has me feeling so very broken.

No, someone didn't slip me a faulty ketchup packet.
If fault is to be found,
it can be found with no one but myself.

You see,
here lately,
life has been smushing me and squeezing me
until it almost feels as though
I can't take the pressure one bit more.
And, as hard as it is to admit,
and as hard as it is to write it here
in black and white
for everyone to see,
this heart that has been labeled
is squirting out anything but
Christ-like qualities.

In fact,
what has been spewing out of my heart
(and subsequently my mouth)
doesn't represent Christ at all,
not one bit,
not by a long shot.

And despite all the stress I am under,
despite all the issues I am wrestling with,
the one thing that bothers me most,
the one thing that has found me broken and shattered,
is the realization of who I am.

And, I realize
stress and emotional issues don't usually
bring out the best version of who we are,
but if we are Christ's,
if we have truly surrendered
who we are
to who He is,
shouldn't we resemble the best version of Him,
especially in difficult times?

Isn't this the true test of
what is truly in our heart?

"Don't take it so hard, Stacy.
Some people just know how to push our buttons."

"We aren't going to get along with everyone.
Sometimes you just have to walk away."

And, while I know this to be true,
I also know
that as easy as it would be
to blame my reactions on someone else,
deep down inside the truth is this:
My reactions belong to me and me alone.

I can't blame
how I respond,
how I react,
on someone else.

When I am smushed and squeezed
and Christ doesn't pour forth from my heart,
I only have me to blame.

And if this is where the story ended, -
me lost,
wallowing aimlessly in a sea of guilt and shame -
I would be broken and shattered
beyond any hope of repair.

But, praise God,
this is the very place where Christ
once again,
faithful and true,
loving and kind,
merciful and full of grace,
steps in.

While I am the only one to blame for my actions,
Christ is the only One powerful enough to free me from them.

While I am the only one to blame for my ugliness and stench,
Christ is the only One who can bring beauty in place of them.

My brokenness breaks me
not to condemn me,
but to convict me:
to show me once again
my continual need of my Savior.

Walking with Christ is not a one time,
this prayer fixes everything,
you're good to go,
kind of journey.

Yes, it is true,
our salvation is granted
the moment we cry out to God in our sinfulness,
but the refining of our character,
the transforming of our behavior,
the molding and re-shaping of our heart,
the sanctification process itself -
this takes a life time.

And it is this very place I find myself in now,
that is allowing God to do some of His greatest work in me.
I have to believe this to be true
even though I still don't see
His beauty,
His reflection,
His character,
squirting out of me under pressure.

My painful awareness of my lack of Christ-likeness,
and my brokenness about who I truly am on the inside,
both assure me
Christ is at work.

Otherwise, I wouldn't care.
Otherwise, I would be sleeping right now
instead of here,
working through this issue with my God,
as I type on my keyboard.

Yes, God is at work,
and He will be faithful to finish what He started.

I'm not who I yet long to be,
but praise God,
I am not who I used to be either.

I am a work in progress
and progress takes,
well - progress.

Moment by moment,
day by day,
as I allow God's Spirit
to have His way.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

When You Feel Out of Sorts and Out of Sync~

Chances are if you ask me to go,
I'll say "no".

I don't know why,
but for some reason,
I'm just not a parade person.
I don't really care to attend them,
and I definitely don't want to be in them.
Somehow watching people pass by in front of me,
doesn't capture my attention.
And being the center of attention,
passing by all those watching the passerbys
is just not my idea of a good time.

And yet, life -
if you really get to dissecting it,
is a lot like a parade.

you are the one on the sidelines watching,
and sometimes,
you are the one parading through it.
And sometimes,
you are trying to do both.

And for someone like me, -
someone who doesn't "parade"
in any form or fashion, -
it can be an uncomfortable place to be.

Like the last three months,
when I have simultaneously found myself
on the sidelines watching my mother live her life,
while trying to keep step in my own.

And, I'm here to tell you -
it is not easy to do both,
and to do both well.

As I crank my head to keep an eye on her,
I can't help but step out of line and bump into
all the hoopla happening around me.

In trying to stay focused on her,
I am losing focus on
where I am going,
what's happening around me,
where I need to be,
how I am doing.

My forward progress,
which had been going in a fairly straight line,
now resembles a figure 8.

I feel dizzy,
out of sorts,
out of step,
out of me.

And my mom,
in spite of all my best intentions,
remains untouched by my efforts.

It's like an invisible glass wall between us -
we are in sight of each other
(even living under the same roof these last three months!)
but because
her parade is not mine
and mine is not hers,
we are not in sync.

Not anywhere close to being in sync.

From my parade, I point at her to turn left in hers.
Only she doesn't want to go left,
she wants to go right.
I signal for her to pick up the pace
and she instead marches in place.
I motion for her to try a new maneuver
and she keeps with the old, familiar routine.

And when I finally turn around
and focus back on me,
I discover my own parade
has left me in the dust.

And if this wasn't bad enough,
I feel as though the whole world is watching.

And then today,
as tears of frustration, failure, and fear
pour down my face,
a trusted friend
hugs and comforts,
encourages and strengthens.
prays and counsels.

I text her later:
"Love you! So much thank you."

Her reply:
"I don't think it's possible for you to love me more than I love you Stacy."

You do love beautifully well.

You do NOT have to be ok with me!!
Because that's what real friends do,
they are there for each other in the tough times, too!!

To be able to be me in my mess - what a gift. Thank you.

And I've come to realize
parades can be messy.

Batons can be thrown up
only to be missed on the way back down.

Decorations can adorn a makeshift float
only to catch a gust of wind and become airborne.

Feet can walk over asphalt
only to trip on the smallest bump and stumble.

Anything can happen in a parade.
Especially in a parade that hasn't been rehearsed,
that was spur of the moment,
jumped into and embarked upon in a split second.

But the thing about a parade is this:
It has to keep moving forward.

If it ceases to move,
it ceases to be a parade.

And, I have to believe
that my mom in her way
and me in mine
will eventually make it to our own finish lines -
it just might not be pretty along the way.

We are going to miss some batons,
lose some decorations,
and stumble our way through,
but if we keep going,
if we keep marching,
if we keep listening to the directions
from The One who knows the way we should go,
our Abba Daddy,
the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End,
we will eventually arrive.

And even though people are watching,
messy just might be ok for them to see,
because maybe just maybe,
it will encourage them in their own journey.

Maybe it will help them not feel so alone
when they are out of step,
out of sorts,
and out of sync.

Maybe just maybe,
it will encourage them to keep going.

Yes, chances are if you ask me to go,
I'll say "no".

But sometimes,
sometimes God takes your "no"
and pulls you into the parade anyway.

And for someone like me, -
someone who doesn't "parade"
in any form or fashion, -
it can be the very place,
I will come to know myself
and know my God
in ways I never would otherwise.

And if I parade in tune with His Spirit,
messing up,
trying again,
and again,
and again,
maybe just maybe,
it will be the place where others
will come to know themselves
and their God
in ways they never would otherwise, too.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

That She Might Know~

I suppose in some families
when the topic of God comes up,
the conversation sadly goes something like this:
"No, I don't want anything to do with God.
Quit pressuring me. Quit talking to me about Him.
Leave me alone. I don't want and I don't need God."

And, I can only imagine how heartbreaking
these words spoken,
and these words heard,
must be.

I can only imagine because
in my family with my own precious momma
when the topic of God comes up
the conversation sadly goes something like this:
"Don't worry, Momma.
I've got God!  I've got God!
More than the air I breathe,
more than anything and anyone,
I've got God."

To which she always replies,
as she sadly shakes her head,
a look of worry and fear all over her face,
"I sure hope so.  I sure hope you do."

And, I don't even have to imagine how heartbreaking
these words spoken
and these words heard,
must be;
I know.

And no matter how hard I try to convince her,
no matter what I say or what I do,
no matter how I try
through the help and empowerment of the Holy Spirit
to live out a life of "Christ in me",
I can't bring the peace
of knowing that she knows that I have God
to her heart.

after word after word was spoken
and all attempts to reassure her once again
fell on deaf ears,
I sit here in the midnight hour,
tears a steady stream
and the groans of my heart,
ascending to Heaven.

And, I hear my God whisper,
"I know, sweet girl.  I know.
You don't need to say a word,
I know.
And, it is enough."

"But, I need her to know.
I don't want her to spend
one more needless moment worrying about me,
about my place with You,
about my salvation."

And, again -
He whispers,
"I know, sweet girl.  I know.
You don't need to say a word.
I know.
And, it is enough."

So - I do what only I can do,
I leave it here with my God, -
the God I have
more than the air I breathe,
the God I have
more than anything and anyone,
and because I know
He knows
it. is. enough.