Thursday, October 4, 2018

That Which Remains~

"I'm sorry, but I don't think you understand."

And really,
how could she possibly understand?

A letter from my credit card company
alerting me to suspected fraudulent activity on my account
found me on the phone
engaging in a conversation
that soon
had me fighting back tears.

The conversation had started out fine.

"Ok, Mrs. Sanchez,
you will not be responsible
for these unauthorized charges.
We will be sending you out new cards
within the next few days,
but before we do, I'll need to speak
with the primary person on this account
to verify this information."

This is where the conversation
headed in a downhill direction.

"My husband passed away."

"Hold please."

The next thing I knew
I was speaking to an entirely different person
about an entirely different subject.

"Since your husband is now deceased,
and this account was listed
under his social security number,
we will be closing this account immediately."

"No, that's ok.
I'd like to keep this account open.
Since my name is already on our account,
please just update our information
using my name and my social security number
instead of his."

"I'm sorry, but that's not possible.
This account will be closed immediately."

"I'm sorry, but I don't think you understand.
We have had this account for years
and I would like to keep it open."

"I'm sorry, but that is not an option."

"Is there someone else I can talk to about this?
I really don't want to close it."

"No. I'm sorry. You can reapply for your own account.
Would you like to do that?"

And while my head
(understanding the whys behind
why this was happening)
was trying its best
to stay in this conversation,
my heart was completely lost
in a conversation all of its own:
"We can't close this account.
Not THIS account.
Not THIS card.
Why isn't she listening?
Why won't she cooperate?"

"Ma'am?  Would you like to do that?
Would you like to reapply for your own account?"

Fighting back tears,
all I could say was
"No, thank you.
Without him,  - - -
it  - - - it - - -
wouldn't be right."

Sensing I was coming unraveled,
the woman on the other end of the line
thanked me for my call
and ended our conversation.

As I hung up the phone,
another conversation
from so many years ago,
began to play in my heart
like it was yesterday.

"Hi, Beautiful! Glad you're home, Baby."

Arriving home from work,
the look on my husband-of-barely-three-week's face
gave away the surprise
that he had a special surprise
to share with me.

"Here you go, Beautiful."

Standing proud and tall,
and sporting a huge smile
and a sparkle in his eyes -
my husband handed me
a credit card.

"Look, Baby.
It's got your name on it.
Your married name.
Stacy Sanchez.
As soon as we were married,
I called my credit card company
and told them to add you to my account.
And,
(he was very proud of this next point)
I told them I wanted your card
to have your name on it.
That way you'll never have any trouble
if you need to use it.
Put it in your wallet, Beautiful,
and always keep it with you.
If you ever have an emergency,
you'll have this to use."

Oh, the look on his face.
Oh, the pride of officially being my husband
and longing to watch out for
and take care of his new bride.
Oh, the beauty of that moment.

No,
unless she would have been me
standing in our living room
that day so long ago,
there is no way she could possibly understand.

What I was feeling
had absolutely nothing to do
with a piece of plastic or
an account with a credit company.

Here, once again,
was simply another
vivid,
not-to-be-missed,
undeniable,
can't-do-one-thing-about-it
reminder
of my husband's death,
of the hard to accept he's-no-longer-here truth,
of all the changes his passing
continues to bring to my life.

Having my husband in my life
was like opening my wallet
and seeing this credit card.

I knew they were there.
I knew I could count on them.
I knew that I knew
I had what I needed.

No longer having this account,
no longer having this card,
pierced my heart -
yet one more time -
with the truth that
I no longer had him, either.

And as it usually does,
this truth
completely broke me.

When I finally quit crying enough
to be able to speak,
I fell to my knees
and began to  . . .
thank my Heavenly Father.

And this is when the downhill spiral
took an upward turn.

Early on in my journey of grief,
this wouldn't have been my natural response.
I would have fallen to my knees
because (thank God) my grief always took me there,
but I would have questioned,
I would have wrestled,
I would have fought to understand.

And I think all of those reactions are
more than fine, more than welcome,
more than understood by our God.

And, eventually -
God's Spirit at work in me
and at work for me,
would always lead me to a place of
thanksgiving.

Now,
two years and eight months
into this journey,
thanksgiving comes easier.

I am learning to bypass the
how comes,
why nots,
if onlys,
and just settle in on the
thank yous.

Because what I've learned about grief
is this:
It's the not having
what you once had
that breaks your heart.
It's the once having,
but no longer having
that hurts so much.

But -
it's the fact that you once did,
it's the fact that you once had,
that is worthy -
so very worthy -
of our thanksgiving.

And it is in this place of thanksgiving
that I am always reminded again of
my Father's heart,
my Father's love,
my Father's goodness,
my Father's care,
my Father - period.

And more than a
piece of plastic
with some numbers
and my name on it,
tucked into my wallet
could "protect me"
or "take care of me",
my Father can
and my Father does.

And more than
the love of my life,
my husband -
a mere human being
could "protect me"
or "take care of me",
my Father can
and my Father does.

And more than
the reminder
that neither of these
are no longer in my life,
I was reminded once again -
in the most
beautiful,
powerful,
vivid,
not-to-be-missed,
undeniable way -
that my Father God
has been,
is still,
and will always be
with me.

I know He is here.
I know I can count on Him.
I know that I know
I have all and so much more
than I'll ever need.

The reminder of the loss hurts -
oh, how it hurts.

But,
the reminder of my God who still remains -
comforts,
strengthens,
and heals -
oh, how He heals.

And, I'm starting to understand -
it ways I couldn't possible before -
this,
this is a beautiful part of the journey.



~Stacy

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Where's Jesus?~

Have you ever moved
forward in life
only to discover later
you went on ahead
without Jesus?

It happened to Mary and Joseph,
and if we aren't careful
to stay in close proximity to Jesus,
it can happen to us, too.

"After the Feast was over,
while his parents were returning home,
the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem,
but they were unaware of it."
~Luke 2:43

I wonder how many times
you and I
have journeyed ahead
totally unaware
that Jesus has stayed behind.

I wonder how many times we have
jumped into conversations,
signed on dotted lines,
turned the next corner
without ever stopping to see
if Jesus was with us
in this decision,
in this timing,
in this direction,
in this move.

It's so easy
to make our plans,
to start out on our journey,
to move ahead
assuming
Jesus is with us -
especially when what we are doing
is for His kingdom,
for His purpose,
for His glory.

How we need to
commune with our Jesus
before
we ever take one step.

How we need to
seek His presence,
stay close by His side,
abide with Him
every moment
of every day.

If we don't,
we may very well find ourself
in the same situation
as Mary and Joseph.

"Has anyone seen Jesus?
Where's Jesus?
We thought he was with us."



~Stacy





Monday, September 17, 2018

Being Still in A Hurry Up and Go World~

Hurry up! Go! Hurry up! Go!

Looking back over the span of my life,
I can't think of a time when I didn't feel the pressure to hurry up and go,
(except for three weeks, in three separate years,
when my sisters and I were on our yearly sister vacation.)

From my earliest childhood memory
of my mom waking me up for school,
the story of my life (and most likely yours, too!)
has been hurry up and go.

As my mom placed breakfast before me, -
the minutes until the bus for school would arrive
ticking away faster than the speed of light -,
she would look at me with frustration on her face and say,
"Don't just sit there, do something. Hurry up! Go!"

From hurrying to catch the bus,
to hurrying to finish homework assignments,
to hurrying to graduate high school,
to hurrying to get through college,
to hurrying to find a job,
to hurrying to find a husband,
to hurrying to make a living,
to hurrying to get through life,
my life has been set on "hurry up and go".

And here,
now,
in this season between seasons,
I feel the pressure
to hurry up and go
more than ever.

Having felt God leading me
to say "Adios" to my old job
and having yet to say "hello" to a new one,
I hear the words of my mom all over again,
"Don't just sit there, do something. Hurry up! Go!"

With days on the calendar ticking by
faster than the speed of light,
and knowing full well
everything that the world demands of me -
I feel the pressure to
be about the business
of being about my business.

Only, I have no idea exactly
what my business is . . .

Should I look for a new job here,
or somewhere else?

Is God calling me to stay here in my home,
or move?

If I move,
what am I going to do
with all of my husband's belongings?

Am I ready to part with his things,
with our home,
with our life here?

If I choose to stay here
do I really want to be here without him?

If I decide to sell our house,
how long will it take to sell?

What will I do if our home doesn't sell quickly
and I haven't found a new job here
because I'm waiting to get a new job there (wherever there is)?

On and on and on
the questions,
the searching for answers,
the trying to make plans
when I don't have a plan,
all have me feeling
the all too familiar pressure
to hurry up and go.

On the outside, that is.

Oddly enough,
(or maybe not odd at all)
deep within,
down in the center of who I am,
flowing from my inner, spiritual man,
I feel the overwhelming conviction
to "be still".

While the world is trying its best to
push me into action,
prod me into moving,
pressuring me into deciding,
I hear God's voice telling me
to think and pray,
to wait and see,
to hope and believe,
to trust and obey,
to hold off and hold on,
to "be still".

And, because these are two
directly opposite forces,
I feel as though I am in the midst
of an intense spiritual battle.

Add to this,
the fact that my husband isn't here to
counsel and pray with me,
and it only makes matters worse.

Hurry up! Go!

"Be still."

Hurry up! Go!

"Be still."

And, I remember the story my husband told me
over and over and over again.

How,
when young and "chasing the American dream",
while living in Phoenix, Arizona,
he was walking along one of the canals in the city,
wondering if there was more to life than
working and paying bills and going to bed
only to get up the next day and spend it
working and paying bills and going to bed.

As he walked along,
the Holy Spirit suddenly came upon Him.
He always smiled as he told this part of the story,
adding that when God's Spirit touched him,
he felt a warm sensation from the top of his head
all the way through him to the bottom of his feet.

As he took his next step,
it was as though the eyes of his heart
had been opened,
and for the first time,
he really saw life.

He saw birds flying above him.
He saw flowers lining the path before him.
He heard children playing nearby.
He felt the warmth of the sun
and the breeze on his face.
He saw the beauty of life,
and he heard God tell him,
"This is life.  Appreciate it -
appreciate everything about it."

Knowing God's presence was with him,
he continued walking until he came to a church
in the heart of the city.
He went in,
sat down,
and pulled out a Bible from the hymn rack
on the back of the pew in front of him.

As he opened the pages of God's Holy Word,
God led him to Matthew 6:25 - 34,
the first words he ever read from the Bible:

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?


Therefore do no worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

And, I ponder all of this in my heart.

Time waits for no man,
this is true.

Bills will keep rolling in,
and I will need to find my new place
in the world soon enough.
I can't sit idly by and do nothing,
and yet I know
Godly wisdom is counseling me
not to rush into anything, either.

There is a time and a season for everything.

And in the meantime,
there is a God
who is very aware of my needs,
very attuned to all that pertains to me
not only physically, but
mentally,
emotionally,
and spiritually, too.

While it seems time is ticking by
and nothing is happening,
I have to trust
God is at work, -
that He is already in tomorrow,
going before me,
preparing the way.

For now,
I will be still.

I will do what He has asked me to do:
to think and pray,
to wait and see,
to hope and believe,
to trust and obey,
to hold off and hold on,
to "be still",
to seek first the kingdom of God,
knowing full well my God shall
supply all my needs,
provide all the answers,
open and close all the right doors,
guide, lead, and direct my path -
in His time,
in His way.

And when the time is right,
when God gives me the green light -
when He is the one
pushing,
prodding,
pressuring me to move -
then,
my only appropriate response will be
to listen and obey,
and to hurry up and go!



~Stacy

Friday, September 14, 2018

It's All in Your Mind~

Please hold your laughter (if possible)
until you have moved on from this post,
opened another email,
or jumped down to another Facebook post.

I've never said
I am the brightest lightbulb in the box,
and what I am about to reveal
will certainly "back me up"
when it comes to this claim.

Sometimes (ok, most times),
it takes me a little while to catch on.

What others grasp instantaneously,
I have to grapple with for a bit.
What others come by naturally,
I have to ponder, digest, and reflect upon.

Thankfully, AHA moments do happen for me,
sometimes they just take a while to happen.

Like, for instance, my most recent AHA moment.
This one only took fity years.
And, it is the simplicity of the revelation,
combined with the fifty year time frame
in which it took me to process it,
that has me asking you
to please hold your giggles.

Balance is all in your head.

(There - it's out in black and white,
typed out on paper for all to see. )

For fifty years of my life,
I struggled with balance,
particularly balance when it came
to standing on one foot.
Try as I might,
no positioning of my arms
or controlled movement of my leg
seemed to bring success.

As soon as I lifted one leg up,
I would teeter and totter until I finally
(ok, quickly!)
had to place the lifted foot
right back on the ground.

For fifty years,
I could not balance on one foot.
Could. not. do. it.

And then, it happened.

One day,
while trying to lift my foot long enough
to take off a very uncooperative sock,
I started to teeter,
and when I did,
I heard myself (out loud) telling myself,
"Stacy, come on, girl!
Think about what you're doing here!"

And, I did.

For the first time ever,
I intentionally thought
about what I was doing,
about what I was wanting to accomplish,
about the need to stay steady and stable.

And, you know what?

The more I thought about being in balance,
the more I was.

The more I thought about standing steady and sure,
the more I was.

The more I took my mental focus
from what I wasn't doing
and placed it into what I wanted to do,
the steadier (and prouder) I stood.

Have you ever been there?

Teetering and tottering through life?

Wanting so desperately to stand
steady and sure
in a temptation,
through a trial,
during the battle?

Struggling to not lean
to the left or the right
in a moment of weakness,
when faced with opposition,
in times of fear and doubt?

If so, remember this:
The victory begins in your mind.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
~ Romans 12:1-2 AMP



Keeping our mind on Christ,
intentionally focusing our thoughts on God,
allowing God to transform
our ability,
our resolve,
our wishy-washyness,
our unbalanced living,
into
a rock-solid faith.

This is how you and I
can begin to find our spiritual balance.

Enlisting the power of the Holy Spirit
to do what only He can do
and what we never can,
seals our victory.

It's not about trying to
position our emotions just right.

It's not about trying to
place one foot of faith here
so as to outweigh one lean toward fear there.

It's not about trying to
stand steady on our own.

It's about surrendering
our need to be in control,
by placing our mind
on The One in control,
and then allowing Him
to do what we can't.

It's about removing our focus
from self,
and placing our mind
on The One
who can bring all things into focus.

It's about taking our thoughts off of
our problem,
our situation,
our temptation,
our need,
our trial,
our whatever is trying to throw us off balance,
and placing them back on
our Almighty God,
our Heavenly Father,
our Good Shepherd,
our Jehovah-Jireh,
our Abba Father.

It's all in our mind.

Believing,
Knowing,
Surrendering.

The next time you find yourself
wavering to the right
or swaying to the left,
set you mind on things above.

The next time you feel
wobbly and gimpy
standing on your own,
stand your spiritual ground
by focusing your mind back on to Christ Jesus,
the one on whose promises you stand.

The next time you start
to teeter and totter
and wave your emotions frantically
in an effort to find something stable
to grab on to,
reach your mind upward
and grab hold of your God -
the rock of your salvation,
the anchor of your soul.

Yes, it's all in your mind.

And, as long as your mind (and mine)
is fixed on Jesus,
we will stand.





(God brought this post from January 29, 2016 to mind today.  I hope you don't mind me sharing it again.)



Monday, September 10, 2018

Wondering Out Loud~

I'm talking to myself,
but by all means -
feel free to listen in
if you would like . . . 

So many times,
when we are faced
with a challenge,
our first response is 
usually always
"What am I going to do?"

We feel helpless
and hopeless,
and it's no wonder we do.

As soon as we start 
relying on self,
as soon as we ask
"What am I going to do?",
we limit our responses,
we limit our resources,
we limit our strength,
we limit our outcome.

We are humans,
simple human beings,
who have limits.

Instead of asking
"What am I going to do?",
what would happen 
if instead 
we turned our question 
into a declaration of faith:
"God, I can't wait to see 
what You're going to do."

His responses,
His resources,
His strength,
His outcomes are limitless.

He is God,
amazing God,
who has no limits.

Nothing is impossible for God.
Nothing is beyond His ability.
Nothing is too hard or too much.

For every need,
God has a limitless supply.

It is not up to us
to try and figure out
what seems to be impossible.

It is up to us
to cry out to
and wait upon 
our God 
who makes all things possible.

And, 
knowing all of this -

I wonder why 

we often don't.







Monday, August 20, 2018

Two Words That Change Everything~

One night,
while I was getting ready for bed,
I tuned in to my favorite Christian radio station.
A woman was sharing a story
of God’s faithfulness.

I listened as she told of
God’s miraculous intervention
in her life during a time
when all looked hopeless.
As she recounted God’s goodness
and told of the supernatural way
He had worked in behalf
of her and her children,
she very casually spoke
two words.

Two small words,
and yet this phrase
completely captured my attention,
transforming my thinking
and ultimately,
my faith in God.

I don’t know how
her story ended.

As I tried to truly grasp
the implications
of these two words,
my mind became totally consumed
with this new knowledge
God was imparting to me
through her testimony.

I kept repeating the phrase
over and over,
out loud,
and each time the words
penetrated my ears,
the truth behind them
penetrated my heart.

I suddenly found myself
strengthened in my inner most being.

I literally felt the touch of God
on my heart.

I knew,
at that very moment,
my relationship with the Lord
had entered a deeper, more intimate, faith-filled level.

How could two small words
make such a radical difference
in my life?

Simple.

These two words change everything!
Most likely, they will change you, too!

But God.

But God.

Say it aloud
and let the truth and reality
of these words
penetrate your own heart.

But God.

No matter what is going on in your life,
or what you may be going through,
know and remember that
all things must surrender
to the power and authority
of our God.

Right now,
at this very moment,
stop and think about
what you are struggling with today.

Whatever it may be,
I guarantee it is
no match for our God.
The Bible is living proof of that!

The Israelites had Pharaoh’s army
breathing down their neck
and the Red Sea in front of them, BUT GOD…..

David had only a little bitty sling shot
with which to slay
a giant of a man named Goliath, BUT GOD…

Daniel was served as the main course
to a den of lions
known for their ferocious appetites, BUT GOD…

A widow was out of time and out of money,
with only a houseful of empty containers
she had collected from her neighbors, BUT GOD…

Jonah was sinking in his sin of rebellion
and headed for the bottom of the ocean, BUT GOD…

Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried, BUT GOD…

Time and time again,
when all looked hopeless
and those in the midst of the situation
felt most helpless,
God showed up
and did the seemingly impossible.

Does your situation appear hopeless?
Are you feeling helpless?
Take heart.
God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Instead of ending
the circumstances of your life
with a period,
replace the finality of your thinking
with a comma of hope,
followed by your
declaration of faith!

Boldly look your situation
in the face
and speak the only two words
that are able to
breathe life into your faith
and power into your life.

I am (fill in the blank), BUT GOD…

I don’t see how I can (fill in the blank), BUT GOD…

I don’t have (fill in the blank), BUT GOD…

I am scared that (fill in the blank), BUT GOD…

So, what are you waiting for?
Go ahead!
Let God write
the ending of your story.

If you do,
I have no doubt
He will finish all things
that pertain to you
with a true exclamation
of His glory and His marvelous grace!



~Stacy


(Note: This first appeared on Heartprints of God on June 24, 2009. It was later published in the July 2010 edition of P31 Woman, a magazine published by Proverbs 31 Ministries.)


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Just Follow Jesus~



Some of you may recognize this photo.

It is the cover of my new book, IF ONLY I COULD.

It is also the exact spot
where my husband and I were married.

It's precious, indeed.

Each year on our anniversary,
we always returned to this spot
and renewed our vows
to each other
and to the Lord.

The last two years,
I've returned to this spot alone.

Last year,
I went to thank God -
on behalf of my man and myself -
for seeing us through our vows
until "death do you part".
Any one married knows
it is only by God's grace
that this is even possible.

This year,
last Tuesday as a matter of fact,
I returned again.

Knowing this book
was on the horizon,
knowing God
was doing a new thing,
I prayed for
unwavering faith and Godly courage
to walk this new walk,
now as a "me"
instead of a "we".

And while I still don't know
where I'm headed
or in which direction
I'm going,
I'm ok with that.

All I need to do
is follow Jesus.
If I do that,
I will be right where
I need to be.

It's the same for you.

Just follow Jesus.

Always and in all ways.~

For information about my book (which at the time of this post is ranked #1 in NEW releases in  "Christian Death and Grief" - thank you, Jesus!) or to purchase a copy - simply follow this link. 
Knowing many of you live outside of the United States, "If Only I Could" ,
is also available for purchase on Amazon's Europeans websites
including Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de. Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es.


IF ONLY I COULD



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Becoming One Again~

“You know what it is?”
I ask out loud to a living room of one.
“It’s the whole 'two are better than one' principle.
That’s exactly what it is.”

(And, admittedly,
talking out loud to myself,
is part of what it is, too.)

Two are better than one, 
because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down, 
one can help the other up. 
But pity anyone who falls 
and has no one to help them up. 
Also, if two lie down together, 
they will keep warm. 
But how can one keep warm alone? 
Though one may be overpowered, 
two can defend themselves. 
~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

One too many ice cream shakes.

Far too many sleepless nights.

Harder falls with even harder pick-me-back-ups.

Too much taking myself seriously
and not enough of you
to put my eyes back on God.

“Yes, this is what it is, Handsome.”

Marriage isn’t easy,
make no mistake about that.

Two lives,
two minds,
two hearts,
two dreams,
two opinions,
two “know it alls”
trying to mesh into one.

No wonder marriage is for life –
without a doubt,
it takes a lifetime
for the “two to become one”.

It takes a whole lot of dancing
to learn the steps
and to finally enjoy
waltzing through life.

But, what happens
when death cuts in
(unwelcome, uninvited, unplanned)
and leaves you dancing
on the dance floor
alone?

What happens
when one of the two
who have become one,
is now
one again?

Yes, two people becoming one flesh is hard.

The only thing harder:
Becoming one again
after having been joined as two.

Yes, I have family.
And, yes, I have friends.
And, yes, Handsome –
everyone has gone above and beyond
to encourage,
to comfort,
to support,
to be there for me.

But the thing is this:
No one knows me like you do.

No one understands my hopes
and is aware of my fears.

No one can predict
how I will react
before I react.

No one can hear
what my eyes
are saying.

No one can
talk me down,
talk me up,
balance me out
and keep me grounded
like you.

No one knows our history.

No one can sight
a leading of God in the past
to encourage me
to step out into the future.

No one can quote a scripture
with a memory
connected to it.

No one can
rekindle my faith,
reboot my courage,
re-ignite my passion
like you.

Except God.

And, of course,
God is always the exception
who is exceptional
at all of this and so much more.

But, I miss
the second best part of me, –
the part that was second best
to the best part of me,
God.

I miss my dancing partner.

I miss your words
and your humor.

I miss your look
and your hand in mine.

I miss your zeal
and your enthusiasm.

I miss your honesty
and your spontaneity.

I miss your hugs
and you wrapping me
in prayer each morning
and each night.

“The hardest part for me
was feeling like part of me
was missing.
Because, it was.”

My mom told me these words
a couple of days
after you were gone.

Kneeling on the floor in the hallway,
outside the bathroom door
where you took your last breath,
sobbing uncontrollably
and wanting nothing more
than you back,
she –
having walked this walk before me –
walked over to me
and said those words.

A couple of months later,
one night while talking with her
on the phone,
she said them again.

No wonder I feel so lost.

No wonder I feel so empty.

No wonder I feel so “not like me” anymore.

“Yes, that’s what it is”
I say out loud
to a living room of one.
“It’s the whole 'two are better than one' principle.
That’s exactly what it is.”

While the missing you is hard,
and while the trying
to become one “me” again
after years of becoming one “us”
is pulling me apart,
I lift my hands to Heaven
and thank God
for the better
I had with you.

A beautiful better.

A better beyond
what I could have ever
hoped better to be.

A better
I would choose to do with you
over and over and over again,
if only I could.

If only I could . . .



( August 7, today, our anniversary
and this - another excerpt from my book,
“If Only I Could”, releasing soon. )


 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Resting on The Rock~

When you find yourself in a place where
there are no clear answers,
no defined roadmarks,
no easy choices, -
it's easy to feel as though you are
lost in a sea of confusion,
pointlessly drifting along,
aimlessly treading water
just to keep breathing and stay afloat, -
with no progress and
with no end in sight.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed.

And yet,
there is an Anchor for our soul.

There is a place where we can
rise above the circumstances,
rest on a firm foundation,
and see our situation
from a higher vantage point.

The Rock, Christ Jesus.

This is the cry of my heart today
(and everyday):

From the end of the earth
I will cry to You,
when my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I.

There,
we will find all we need.





Wednesday, July 25, 2018

If Only I Could~

As soon 
as I step out the front door, 
I see it.

Big, bold, beautiful.


The first bloom on our hibiscus.
As soon as I see it,
I whirl around and head
straight for the front door,
straight back inside to tell you.

Only, as soon as my hand grasps
the cold metal of the doorknob,
my heart grasps the cold, hard reality
of your absence
once more.
Tears spill down my cheeks
and drop onto the welcome mat.
And, the longing of my heart
spills out into words
that aren't merely running through my mind,
but are tumbling out my mouth.

Out loud.
For anyone and everyone to hear.
"If only I could tell you!
If only I could run inside,
grab your hand,
and lead you outside
to see this beautiful bloom!
If only I could . . ."
Tears take over
and all I can do,
despite all I wish I could do,
is cry.
Looking down at the welcome mat,
this new place I find myself,
here without you,
feels anything but welcome.
And, if truth be told,
without you
sharing our address,
sharing our kitchen,
sharing our conversation,
sharing our prayers,
sharing our bed,
and sharing "us",
I no longer feel welcome here either.
It's as all that once was,
no longer is.
Everything is new.

Only none of the new
I am experiencing
is welcome here, either.

None of it.

Except, maybe,
the beautiful bloom on our hibiscus.
IMG_7009
I  still remember the day
you bought it for me.

That day,
knowing how much I love
these big, bold, beautiful blooms,
you were the one heading
straight for the front door,
straight inside
to grab my hand
and lead me out
to see the new "beautiful"
you had bought for me.
"Look, Beautiful!
Just for you!
And, look how beautiful!
Just like you!"
I loved it.
And, I loved you all the more
because of it.
As I stand in the doorway,
half way in and half way out,
I realize I have a choice to make.
I can let this moment
steal the beauty
of what now is
by longing
for what used to be,
or I can let this moment
stir up thanksgiving
for the beauty
you have left behind.

I can choose
to stay in the past
or
I can choose
to step into the future.
As new tears
slowly make their way
down my cheek,
landing once again
on the welcome mat,
I choose to welcome
this new bloom,
this new beginning,
this new moment into my life.
"Thank you, Handsome.
Thank you, that even now,  you are
still making my heart smile,
still starting my day in a beautiful way,
still reminding me of your love,
still leading me out to see
the beautiful new thing
God is doing
here
in this new place."
If only I could tell you.  If only I could . . .

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun.
Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway 
through the wilderness.
I will create rivers
in the dry wasteland.
~Isaiah 43:19

(Sharing with you today, the first reflection in my new book, "If Only I Could".  Coming soon!)



Monday, July 23, 2018

The Want To~

His answer was simple enough.
Or, was it?

Driving home from work,
I hit the scan button on my radio.
A few short seconds later
I found myself listening to NPR
(not my usual choice, by the way)
and eavesdropping on a conversation
between two gentlemen.

I had landed on this station
just in time
to hear the host of this radio show
ask the following question:

"So what kind of qualifications
does one need
in order to succeed
in your line of work?"

The man being interviewed
simply responded,
"the want to".

I was hooked.
I quickly reached for the scan button again.
They had my complete attention.

The interview continued
and so did my curiosity.
As I listened,
I speculated about what occupation
they might be referring to.
Imagine my surprise
when I finally figured out
what this man did for a living.

Any guesses?

According to this gentleman,
if you have the "want to",
you, too, can become a.........
drum roll, please...........
professional rodeo clown!

I had to smile.

Of all the occupations
that had popped into my mind,
I have to admit
professional rodeo clown
was not one of them.

But then,
it all started to come into focus.
Having the "want to"
made perfect sense.

I have a feeling
if this radio host
had been interviewing
any one of the twelve disciples,
they too,
may have responded
with the exact same answer.

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. Matthew 4:18-20, The Message

Were any of these men qualified
to be a disciple of the Most High God?

What did they themselves
even know about God?

How could they possible
lead others to God?

And yet,
Jesus called them into service
and they took Him up
on His invitation.

They had the "want to"
and that was all they needed.

What about you?

What about me?

Over my lifetime,
I have passed up many
God-given invitations
simply because I felt I was unqualified.

I have a feeling you have, too.

Like me,
you have probably
heard the voice of Jesus
calling you to follow Him
into a new place,
a new career,
a new direction,
a new life and yet,
you opted to stay put,
right where you were.

You may still be in this same
seemingly "safe" spot
today.

The disciples could easily
have talked themselves out of
this new calling.

After all, they each already
had an occupation.
They were each already
knee-deep in their livelihood.

Peter and Andrew knew how to fish
and they were good at it.
Matthew not only knew how to collect taxes
for the government,
but for his own pocket, as well.

These men weren't listening
for the knock of opportunity.
They weren't looking
to "find themselves".

They weren't looking for God.

Yet, when the knock came
and the door to a new life in Christ
was opened before them,
they took the leap of faith
and jumped in
with both feet.

They were caught....hook, line and sinker.

Why?
Because they were qualified?
No.
Simply because they had the want to.

The Jesus
who gave these fishermen
the invitation of a lifetime
is the same Jesus
who calls out to you today.

He is still looking for people;
people who are willing to follow,
people who have "the want to".

When Jesus calls you,
He is not looking at your qualifications.
The one who created you
knows better than you
what you were created to do.
The one who formed you
in your mother's womb
knows better than you
that for which you were formed. 

And He's calling you to follow.......

Will you?

All you need to have is the "want to".




Saturday, July 14, 2018

Holy Ground~

That the Holy One
would bend His ear
to listen -

That the Holy One
would draw close
each time
we draw near -

That the Holy One
would dare
to love us
and keep on loving us
and to
graciously indwell us -

This place of meeting
can be nothing less
than
Holy Ground.








Sunday, July 8, 2018

I'm So Glad I Asked~

"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

My questioning heart
didn't even realize it had
spoken these words out loud
until the rest of me
heard myself hearing them -
out loud.

And, as He is always faithful to do,
God answered back.

Only His answer,
as it so often is,
was simply a prodding of my heart
to dig in deeper.
To pray for the Holy Spirit
to illuminate my mind
and then to mine this verse
that had prompted the question
like a jewel hunter
mines a field for diamonds.

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31

I knew this verse.
I had read it time and time again.
I could probably even do a fairly good job
of quoting it back to you
without even looking.
But, living it -
nope.

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength.

To me,
up until now,
waiting had been the opposite -
more exhausting,
than renewing.
There was a certain tension
that came with waiting
and to be honest,
it usually left me feeling drained.

This time,
as I read this old familiar verse -
I realized I had yet
to truly grasp the meaning
or live it out in my life.

And,
that's when
my heart blurted out
what it was thinking:
"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

And,
that's when
my God led me to this amazing,
life-changing,
faith-infusing,
strength-renewing
discovery-
better than all the diamonds in the world.

The word wait
used in this verse
is the Hebrew word קָוָה (qavah).

It has two meanings -
one figurative and one literal.

The meaning I was most familiar with
was the figurative one:
to wait, to expect, to hope in, in anticipation.

It was the literal meaning of this word
that opened the eyes of my heart
and unlocked the true meaning of this verse:
to bind together like a cord

(Honestly,
have you ever thought
of the word "wait"
as meaning "to bind together like a cord"?
What a thought.
Go ahead -
feel free to take a few minutes
to let that sink in.)

To bind together like a cord.

Dictionary.com  defines a cord as:
a string or thin rope made of several strands braided, twisted, or woven together

A cord isn't made of one thread,
but several.

In fact,
if you think about it
(which God definitely had me doing,
and now,
hopefully you are, too!)
the very strength of the cord
lies in the fact
that it is not a single unit,
but is instead made up of several -
all braided, twisted, and woven together.

So - back to this amazing verse,
the question that started this search,
and you and me.

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

(And I almost feel a little hesitant
to share with you
what God shared with me
because I have a feeling -
knowing our God the way I do -
He has already begun
opening the eyes of your heart
to see the treasure He has for you
tucked into this familiar text.
Isn't His Spirit such a precious teacher?!)

If I am to truly wait on the Lord -
it is more
(so much more)
than me
looking forward to,
hoping in,
anticipating
what God is and has yet to do -
it is also
(and here's where
the strength part comes in)
me binding
myself,
my thoughts,
my actions,
my reactions,
my prayers,
my desires,
my very will,
together with that of my God.

To wait on the Lord
is to intertwine me -
every part of me,
with Him.

And, as I do -
my strength is renewed.

As I do,
I am no longer
a lone, thin, single string -
I become part of a strong cord.
(Is anything stronger than God?!)

"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

Naturally,
if we wait on the Lord
we will mount up with wings like eagles,
we will run and not be weary,
we will walk and not faint.
because His supernatural power,
braided and twisted and woven together
with ours,
will make it happen.

Naturally,
if we wait on the Lord
our strength will be nenewed
because His supernatural strength, -
braided and twisted and woven together
with ours,
will make it happen.

His strength
becomes mine
because I
become part of Him.

WOW!

(I know -
at the beginning of this post
I should have subtly mentioned
you might want to be sitting down
while reading this.)

And,
as is usually the case,
my mind
couldn't have been more grateful
my heart
had the "need to know"
and the courage to ask the question.

And,
as is always the case,
my heart
couldn't have been more grateful
my God
is always faithful to answer.






Friday, June 29, 2018

A True Reflection~

Never underestimate the impact your life
is having on others.

As you through the
day to day living of your life,
(through your
smile,
demeanor,
disposition,
words,
actions,
reactions,
commitments,
convictions,
aspirations,
involvements,
decisions,
to name only a few . . .)
God has an opportunity
to touch a life
by being showcased in yours.

Whether we like it or not,
whether we remember it or not,
whether we are mindful of it or not,
whether we want them to or not,
people are watching us
live out our life.

What do others see
when they look at me?

What do others see
when they look at you?

Do they see a true reflection of our God?~♥



To call yourself a child of God is one thing.
To be called a child of God 
by those who watch your life
is another thing altogether.

~Max Lucado






Wednesday, June 27, 2018

When Almost Was More Than Enough~

It was 4:50 pm.

Trying to wrap up everything on my to-do list before heading home from my office,
I was busily working away when my phone rang.

"Hi, Beautiful. Do you think you'll be able to get away right at 5 tonight, or will you need to stay late?"

"Hi, Handsome. No, I should be able to leave here in about 10 minutes."

"Instead of running errands, do you think you could just come straight home?"

"Sure. Is everything ok?"

"I think I might need to go somewhere for some help. I'm not feeling quite right."

"I'm on my way. Don't worry.  I'm coming right now."

I grab my keys and purse, and as I head out the door, I mention to a co-worker my husband needs me and I have to go. NOW.

Buckling my seat belt and starting my car, I phone my husband.

I talk with him all the short 6-8 minute drive home, assuring him with each turn and each intersection passed I am almost there.

"I'm going to call an ambulance," he finally says. "That way I will be able to get in to see a doctor sooner once we're at the hospital."

"Ok, Handsome.  Hold on, I'm coming.  I'm almost there. I'm almost there, Handsome. Love you."

And with that, our conversation ends.

Traffic begins blurring with panic and erupts in heart cries to my God.

"Oh, Lord. Be with my husband. Help him, Father God.  I'm almost home.  I'm almost there, Lord.  Help him.  Help me be able to help him once I get there.  Oh, Father God, I'm almost there."

A half a minute or so later, I pull into the drive.
It's 4:58 pm.
I race to the front door and into our home.

"Honey, I'm here. It's ok, now. I'm here."

My ears and my heart met with only a deafening silence.

"Honey!!  I'm here!!"

I turn the corner of our hallway and see his legs and feet (and his phone), lying motionless.
And, I see him there, lying in the bathroom, and I know.

I was too late.







Only,
looking at the radiantly peaceful look on my man's face,
feeling surrounded by the gentle hush of angels,
experiencing as never before the peace that can only be the presence of God,
I know in the deepest place of my heart,
God is here,
in our bathroom,
in our home,
in this moment,
in this timing.

I was almost there,
but God,
God is here.

Here with His kindness and His mercy.
Here with His "in an instant" blessing.
Here with His arms open wide.
Here with my husband then,
here with me, now.

And all I can do,
as I hold his hands tight,
rest my head on his chest,
and cry until I feel as though my own heart will give out,
is thank my God.

It is God who blessed me with this man
25 years ago when we first met.

It is God who blessed me with the gift of being his wife almost 16 years ago.
(We had dated 10 years before saying I do because he had to be sure he was sure!)

It is God who blessed me to be the one to live alongside this man as he lived out the day to day
living of his extraordinary life.

It is God who blessed me with his last words, and almost his last moment.

And, it is God who was with my husband at his last breath.

When I was almost there,
God was there,
more than I could have ever hoped or imagined,
more than I could have ever wanted for my husband.

When I was almost there,
less than half a minute away,
God was there,
and it was more than obvious
God was (and always will be) more than enough.





This was my unexpected moment -
February 4, 2016.

Retelling it again because so many of you are new here
and because
even now,
two years, and almost 5 months later -
God is here
and He is more than enough.

Great is His faithfulness.


Monday, June 25, 2018

A Prayer for Today~

Thank you, Lord,
for a brand new day.

Thank you for Your mercies
that are new every single morning
and for Your faithfulness
which has no end.

Thank you that You have already provided
everything I will need today . . .
love, wisdom, patience, self-control,
joy, inspiration, faith,
strength, protection, and provision.

Thank you that You and I
are in this day together.

I can't wait to spend it with You!

In Jesus' precious name I pray,
Amen.




Thursday, June 21, 2018

God is in the Details~

So often
we find ourself weighed low
beneath the details of life.

We wonder if we are
making the right decision about this
or if we are doing what is best
in handling that.

We think,
and we fret,
and we worry,
and we wonder . . .
and in doing so,
we often forget that
God is in the details.

He who designed water from a lake
to evaporate to the sky
only to return as rain to water the earth
is here working in the details of your life, too,
causing one action
to prepare the way for the next,
one step at a time,
all in His perfect timing and perfect way.

He who breathed the stars into being
and then orchestrated their orbit,
along with that of the sun and moon
and a million other celestial wonders,
is here orchestrating every single detail
of that which concerns you, too -
delicately considering all involved
and intertwining it all in heavenly fashion.

He who designed the metamorphosis
of a lowly caterpillar into a glorious butterfly
is here, too,
in the details of all
that is changing around you, -
gently,
miraculously,
amazingly,
creating something new,
that no doubt
will be unlike anything you've known before,
but beautiful in its own way.

Trust Him.

God is in the details.

Commit your ways to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
~Psalm 37:5 (AMP)



Monday, June 18, 2018

Who Do They See~

His words broke my heart.

Partly because I have been in his shoes,
but mostly,
mostly because I could only imagine
how this whole scenario
must have broken the heart of Jesus, Himself.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

A grown man,
he told the story of growing up in church.
How each week his Sunday School teacher
scolded him,
pointed out every wrong thing he was doing,
and told him
if he didn't straighten up,
he was going to Hell.

One day she added,
"What's wrong with you, boy?
Don't you want to be with Jesus?
Don't you want to go to Heaven?"

A mere six year old,
he lowered his face to the ground
and shook his head, "no".

The teacher was appalled.

"You don't want to go to Heaven?
How could you not want to go to Heaven?"

This young boy,
with all the innocence and honesty
his heart could muster into words,
looked up at this "woman of God" and replied,
"Well, you're going to be there, right?
I, uh well, I just don't want to be there.
I don't think I would like it there
with you and Jesus,
especially with no way to leave
or ever go home."

And, who could blame him
for coming to this conclusion,
for deciding if Jesus was anything like this woman,
he didn't want anything to do with Heaven,
or anything to do with Jesus?

Thankfully,
as a child,
most of the people who told me about Jesus,
not only talked about Him,
but walked out the beauty and love of Him
in their lives.

Sadly,
as an adult, however,
this hasn't always been the case.
Those professing to be Jesus followers,
those serving in His name,
those called into ministry,
have been some of the most un-Christlike people
I have known.

If they were the only view I had of Jesus,
if they were all that I glimpsed of His character and heart,
if they were who I thought Jesus was like,
just like this young boy,
I wouldn't want anything to do with
Jesus or Heaven, either.

Especially not forever and ever and ever and ever.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

And, I sit here thinking of me.

What is it that people see when they watch my life?

How is this Jesus I talk about
being conveyed to their hearts?

Am I truly showing them
the fullness of who He is?

Or, am I a deterrent?

Is the way I live my life
causing people to turn tail and run
as far away from God
as they can go?

Am I drawing others to God
or pushing them away?

Whether we like it or not,
whether we admit it or not,
whether we are even aware of it or not,
the salvation of others -
to a large extent -
depends on us
unwrapping this,
unpacking this,
digesting this,
pondering this,
remembering this,
and then,
living out the truth and beauty of who God is
in our day to day living
of our every day lives.

Who do others see
when they see me?

When they see you?

May it be Christ
and Christ alone.








Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Just Passing Through~

"You just weren't made for this world, Beautiful."

And,
each time my man would wipe my tears,
wrap his arms around me,
and say these words to me,
it always replaced some of the
awkward,
just-don't-fit-in,
feel-so-out-of-place feelings
with thoughts of
"I think you might be right, Handsome."

And,
almost as if he knew what I was thinking
he would add,
"You know I'm right.
None of us were  made for this world.
It's just some of us
have adapted to this world
a little easier and a little better
than others.
But you - no,
you definitely weren't made for this world."

He was the one who
always stayed up-to-date with world happenings,
was constantly in the know about this and about that,
was hip,
was in tune,
was connected.
Now, without my connecting to the world
by connecting to it
through him,
I really feel out of sorts.

Tonight, as I sat in the still of our living room,
I heard myself say out loud to God,
"I'm just not wise in the ways of the world, Lord.
I'm just not.
I just don't have any interest in the things
most people are so interested about.
I just don't."

And,
I was reminded of the words of my husband,
and as I was,
it was almost as if God came along
right behind the memory
and seconded the motion.

"It's OK, sweet girl.
To be wise in the ways of the world
isn't necessarily true wisdom.
To be investing your time and your energy
in what the world views as important
isn't necessarily a wise investment.
To be caught up in the opinions of others
and gaining the approval of man,
isn't necessarily the opinions or approval that matter.
To be rich in worldly possessions
isn't necessarily to be rich at all."

And, then
I remembered these precious words
God placed in front of me last week
as I was leaning in to hear
what He might want me to share
at an upcoming speaking engagement.

Thus says the Lord:
"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord,
exercising lovingkindness,
judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight," says the Lord.
~Jeremiah 9:23-24

"You know Me, sweet girl.
Each day as we walk together,
you are getting to know Me more.
This is what matters most.
Don't worry about the other.

Choose to know Me.

Make this your life pursuit.
Make this your ambition and passion.
Make this be what you
talk about,
write about,
study about,
invest in,
walk in,
live in.

And then,
share Me with everyone you meet
so they, too,
can choose to know Me."

"You just weren't made for this world, Beautiful."

No - no, I don't think I was.
And that is more than fine with me.










Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Mark of Time~

I'm sure you've probably seen them.
Markings on a wall,
tiny nicks on a wood pole,
the measuring of years and inches
in a child's life.

Each time it's time to "measure up" again,
there is definitely something to document.
Each year, the mark noticeably higher
than the year before.

And, I've been thinking
what it might look like,
if somehow, someway
we were to mark off our spiritual growth.

How do you measure this kind of growing up?

And I guess the greatest question of all:
If we did,
if we could,
would there be something to document?
Would there be significant space
between each of our marks?

Is our faith walk noticeably different today
than it was
10 years ago,
1 year ago,
1 month ago,
1 week ago,
1 day ago,
one hour ago?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
forgive us and redeem us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
mold us and shape us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
change us and re-arrange us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
heal us and mend us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
free us and restore us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
calm us and refresh us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
love us and fulfill us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
guide us and lead us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
empower us and equip us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
call us and send us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
consume us and overtake us?

Have we truly allowed Jesus to
be Jesus in every area of our life?

Does our life show it?

Does our faith reveal it?

Do our actions reflect it?

Do our choices prove it?

How do you and I "measure up"
when it comes to growing up
in Christ?

Just something God has me thinking about today.
And maybe now,
something He has you thinking about, too.











Sunday, May 27, 2018

Well, That Was Awkward~

Is there anything more awkward than life?

(Even death,
with the awkwardness it brings
is really just a part of life, too.)

I don't know about you,
but anytime anyone knocks on my door
(especially when I'm not expecting anyone -
and honestly - even sometimes when I am!)
awkward usually shows up.

And yesterday,
(when only a few short minutes
after arriving home from my morning walk,
I heard someone knocking on my door),
was no exception.

Looking through the peep hole
I was more than sure
I had no idea who this "knocker" was.
And, because I didn't know him,
I had no intention of opening my door to him.

But, my not opening the door
didn't keep him from knocking.
And, waiting.
And, knocking again.
And, waiting.
Minute after minute after minute.

It was during one of these waiting moments,
that his phone rang.
After a short conversation,
he was back to knocking,
but not only that.
This time when he knocked,
he called out my name.

"S t a c y?"
"S t a a a a c y."

This was getting more awkward by the moment.

To open the door or not to open the door?
This was the huge question.

Covered head to toe in sweat
from my morning walk,
I quickly went to the bedroom,
changed into a fresh t-shirt
and came back to the door -
only to discover he was (finally!) gone.

It was at this exact moment,
I received a text from my next door neighbor
letting me know their 20 something year old son
was climbing the tree in my backyard
attempting to get a cat
belonging to the neighbors
who lived behind them.

And, that's when it hit me.

The man at my door was the owner of the cat.
This man lived behind the neighbors who live beside me.
Having recently moved into our neighborhood,
I had seen his wife and two daughters
out in their backyard,
but never him.

Yep - this whole situation
had awkward written all over it.

I made my way outside to
where all the action was -
over by the tree,
in the far corner,
where our three yards converge.

As the young man scrambled his way
around in my tree
trying to get his hands on this runaway cat,
I scrambled around in my mind,
trying to get my thoughts on the right way
to apologize to this new neighbor.

Before I could mutter a word, though,
the wife of the man who had been at my door blurted out,
"I am so, so, SO sorry our cat is in your tree.
I feel so bad about all of this."

Awkward was obviously having a heyday with her, too.

"Oh, no!" I tried to assure her. "Don't worry about it.
I'm the one who needs to apologize.
I'm so sorry I didn't open my door.
My husband always counseled me to never open
the door to anyone I didn't know.
I had no idea he was your husband."

"Well, we're sorry our dogs 
chased your cat up into her tree."
This from the neighbors who lived beside me
and had texted me about the whole incident
going down in my backyard.

Evidently, awkward was on a roll
and had scored a triple play this day.

Finally, the cat was retrieved
and handed over to his owners.
And, eventually, the young man made his way 
back out of my tree.
We all smiled, 
waved,
and nodded our heads at each other
as if to say "All righty, then"
as we all headed back inside.
No doubt, all of us relieved
this awkward incident was over.

What is it about awkward 
that makes it so very awkward?

I think it all boils down to this:
Awkward reminds us of our humanness.

Awkward catches us in the moment,
without a script,
without a dress rehearsal,
without a plan,
without a facade.

It - like almost nothing else -
levels the playing field 
and brings us face to face with
our flaws,
our insecurities,
our social ineptness,
all the while reminding us 
of the total unpredictability of life.

Awkward reminds us we are not in control -
ever -
no matter how hard we try,
or how much we think we might be.

Awkward is awkward because
it is the truest, most vulnerable times of life,
and reveals to us 
the truest, most vulnerable places of ourselves.

And, who likes or enjoys that?!

(Now, even this post is getting awkward, isn't it?)

But,
if we let it -
awkward can be a good thing.

After all,
it was this awkward incident
that brought my neighbors and me
into conversation with each other
in the very seldom (if ever) visited
back corners of our yards.

It was this awkward incident
that reminded me
(and maybe them - 
and maybe even you, too)
we are not the only ones
going through life feeling awkward.

The whole world -
no matter how hard people try to convince us otherwise -
is struggling with the awkwardness of life.

Maybe if we stopped to realize this,
our stress level would drop significantly.

Maybe if we were more aware of the awkwardness of others,
we would be more inclined to 
offer words of compassion,
instead of words of condemnation, guilt, or shame.

Maybe is we took a minute to remember
others are feeling just as awkward as us,
we would stop competing with each other
and start working together to complete each other.

If a cat needing to be rescued from a tree
can bring three neighbors together 
(albeit in a most awkward way),
why can't a whole world 
needing to be rescued from sin
and from itself,
bring all of us together?
(no matter how awkward 
it might sometimes be
or how awkward
it might sometimes get).

We are all in this life together.
And, its awkward.

And yet,
every time we put down our facade and are real,
every time we let our humanness draw us together,
every time we come together for the common good,
we catch a glimpse of God.

We understand deeper our need of each other,
and our need of God.

Is there anything more awkward than life?

Only you and I trying to live life
as though it isn't.

The cat in the tree incident -
definitely awkward.

This post -
a little awkward, too.

Me -
from having worked my way through both, 
all the more human
all the more aware of my need of my Heavenly Father,
and all the more aware of my need to
let go of my worries,
let go of my insecurities,
let go of my social ineptness
and instead help those around me
through this awkward journey called life.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
Any comfort from his love?
Any fellowship together in the Spirit?
Are your hearts tender and compassionate?
Then make me truly happy 
by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,
loving one another,
and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don't be selfish;
don't try to impress others.
Be humble,
thinking of others as better than yourselves.
Don't look out only for your own interests,
but take an interest in others, too.
~Philippians 2:1-4