Saturday, May 18, 2019

Have You Noticed?

It's May.
So, it's not surprising,
as I scroll through my Facebook feed,
I see them everywhere.

Moments of time
captured, recorded, and measured
in side by side
"first day of" and "last day of"
school photos.

And,
I think it's safe to say,
without this visible documentation -
the dramatic changes that take place -
even in just the span of ten short months -
might be overlooked,
completely missed,
not truly taken notice of.

Last week,
on two separate occasions,
(both in the aisle of a grocery store,
oddly enough)
brief conversations with friends -
who I hadn't seen
since the first few weeks following
the death of my husband -
became a Polaroid-like moment for me.

"Oh Stacy! You look good -
not so very tired like
the last time I saw you.
You do, you look fantastic."

"It's so good to see you, Stacy.
You're looking good - really good.
My heart was so worried about you.
It's good to see the joy on your face."

It was in their
"before" and "after"
words of me,
I discovered two things:

1. I didn't know then,
I was walking around
looking so very tired and joyless.

2. I didn't know now,
that I wasn't.

To me, I was just me -
making my way through life.

One day rolls into the next
that rolls into a week,
a month,
a year,
and ultimately,
our life.

We aren't often aware
of the subtle, gradual,
yet often life changing ways
are lives are changing
right before our very eyes.

The one pound of weight gained
again and again
that now has us twenty pounds overweight.

The one piece of paper stacked
again and again
that now has us buried in clutter.

The one night of no sleep
again and again
that now has us looking well beyond our years.

That one excuse of "I'll do it tomorrow"
again and again
that now has us still so very far
from reaching our goal.

What would our lives look like
if we continued to portray them
in before and after photos
long after we don our cap and gown
and walk down the aisle,
diploma in hand?

Would we live our lives differently,
more intentionally,
if at the end of each year,
we looked back
and took an honest inventory
of how our life has changed
over the course of twelve months?

Would documenting our progress
or lack of it,
spur us on,
shake us into action,
find us applauding and celebrating,
or shaking our head?

Life is happening
whether we are
aware of it,
or not.

And maybe, just maybe,
if we were
more aware of it,
we'd be getting
a whole lot more living
out of our life.

Just a Saturday afternoon thought.



~Stacy





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Not-To-Be-Missed Blessing~

One of the greatest blessings
of walking through a hard season,
(because yes, blessings are here, too -
precious, not-to-be-missed, blessings)
is the blessing of knowing.

That moment when -
in the midst of
heartache and sorrow,
trials and tribulations,
upheaval and change,
betrayals and battles,
at the very core of your being
you come to know God.

I think we would all agree,
it's one thing to know about someone,
but it's something entirely different,
to actually know someone.

And all to often,
the knowing -
the true knowing of God,
happens in the very places
we wish wouldn't happen
at all.

When all is well,
when all is rolling merrily along,
when life is happy and good,
we see God's hand -
(yes),
we acknowledge His goodness -
(I hope),
we recognize His presence in our life -
(at least we should).

But oftentimes,
in these times of good,
our knowing of God
is merely in relation to
what He is doing in our life,
how He is providing in our life,
who He is "serving as" in our life.

Just look at David.

Just look at Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
~Psalm 23:1-3

Here, in green pastures,
surrounded by still waters
and a time of restoration,
life is good.
And it is here,
in these verses,
where David refers to God as his shepherd.

Notice the psalmist is focusing on
what God is doing,
how God is providing,
and who God is "serving as" - his shepherd.

Notice, too, in these verses
David is referring to God as "He".

He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness.

And as much
as we would love to stay right here,
we all know -
life isn't always
green pastures and still waters,
and so,
the psalmist continues:

Yea, though I walk
through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup runs over.
~Psalm 23:4-5

And it is here,
in the places we'd
rather not go,
rather not find ourselves,
rather not be, -
the valley of the shadow of death,
and in the presence of our enemies,
that we come
to truly know God.

It is in these places of life,
(if we allow these places
to draw us in close to our God)
that we go from noticing
what God is doing,
how God is providing,
who God is serving as -
and we begin to know
the very presence of God.

No longer is David
referring to God as "He".
No - in these verses,
God has become
a very personal "You"
who is
intimately and personally
caring for the psalmist.

You are with me.
Your rod and Your staff comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.

Yes, indeed.

One of the greatest blessings
of walking through a hard season,
is the blessing of knowing.

That moment when -
in the midst of
heartache and sorrow,
trials and tribulations,
upheaval and change,
betrayals and battles,
at the very core of your being
you come to truly know God.




~Stacy

Friday, May 10, 2019

This, I Know This~

There's not a whole lot
I know a whole lot about.

But, this -
I know this.
In fact,
I consider myself an expert.

I know the heart of a mother.

As a teacher and administrator
for eighteen years
and a Director of Children's Ministries
for seven,
I have met and known
an incredible amount of mothers.

From sitting with our knees
tucked up under our chins
in chairs designed for those
much younger than us,
to standing outside my classroom door,
to late night phone calls,
to notes left behind on my desk,
to prayer requests and prayers
prayed together on bent knees, -
I have been face to face with
the heart of a mother.

From mothers who
never finished high school and
felt so ill-equipped to be a mother,
to mothers who
had diplomas and degrees and yet,
felt so ill-equipped to be a mother.

From mothers who
with humble eyes bent low
and hands outstretched,
asking to borrow money from me
until the next pay check,
wondered how not having enough was
shaping their child,
to mothers who
having "more than enough"
wondered how their affluence
and easy life style was
shaping theirs.

From mothers who
were divorced and broken
trying to find their identity
while helping their children find theirs,
to mothers who
were stay-at-home-housewives
trying to find their identity
while helping their children find theirs.

From mothers who
wanting only the best for their children
felt over-controlling, outspoken, and out of line,
to mothers who
wanting only the best for their children
felt too-passive, easily manipulated, and out of control.

From mothers who
had lost a child
through miscarriage, death, or divorce
feared the future with one less,
to mothers who
expecting yet again
feared the future with one more.

The heart of a mother.

It is giving, sacrificing, loving, caring, mending, nurturing, correcting, listening, instructing, molding, yearning, desiring, lamenting, pondering, inspiring, empowering, encouraging, teaching, releasing, embracing, refining, defining, determining, questioning, believing, hoping, willing, and unrelenting,

In the heart of a mother,
I have seen the heart of our Heavenly Father.

A heart that will stop at nothing
for the good of her children.

A heart that will give its all
so that all might be given
to her son and to her daughter.

A heart that
even if it costs its own
will give and give and give.

Yes, I have seen and known
the heart of a mother.

And, It. Is. Beautiful.

If the heart of a mere human,
flawed and imperfect as we are
can be this beautiful,
how beautiful still is the heart
of our Heavenly Father?

I'm not there yet,
because the vastness of His heart
is unfathomable, incomprehensible,
without boundaries or end.

But the more I
sit with my knees tucked up
under my chin at His feet,
or stand in His presence
with hands lifted high,
or kneel before Him
with humble eyes turned down
and outstretched hands,
the more I come face to face
with His heart.

No, I'm not an expert
on the heart of our Heavenly Father,
but from the glimpses I have seen,
It. Is. Beautiful.

It. Is. Beautiful. Beyond. That. Of. A. Heart. Of. A. Mother.

It. Is. Beautiful. Beyond. Description.

It. Is. Beautiful. That. We. Can't. Even. Imagine.

We see bits and pieces of it
in the heart of a mother.

We see the height and depth of it
on Calvary's cross.

But, one day -
one day we will see it
face to face.

There's not a whole lot
I know a whole lot about.

But this-
I know this.

I can't wait to spend eternity
becoming an expert on
the heart of our Heavenly Father.


{My beautiful sister and sweet nephew}

   ~Stacy     




Monday, May 6, 2019

Thunderous Applause~

Have you ever done it?

Admittedly, (and ashamedly)
I have.

Sometimes, (dare I say most times)
it happens before I even realize
it is happening.

The way you drive through a stoplight,
only to get to the other side
of the intersection
and find yourself asking
"Did I even look at that light?"

The way you grab your jacket,
take your last sip of coffee,
latch onto your keys
and head out the door in the morning,
only to get in your car,
drive half way to work
and find yourself asking
"Did I remember to lock the front door?"

It's not a case of being forgetful,
it's more a case of not being mindful.

We get caught up in the moment
and our natural self
goes on autopilot,
reacting and doing
without us so much as thinking.

And while driving through an intersection
without being mindful of the light is not good,
and while not remembering
whether or not you locked your front door
might keep you wondering about it all day,
there is a kind of natural reaction
that is far worse than either of these.

A compliment is given.

An award is handed out.

A round of applause is heard.

A pat on the back is felt.

And . . . we
blush,
beam,
soak it in,
and stand up tall.

Without even thinking,
without being mindful at all,
we takes these forms of praise
and we claim them as our own.

And, we forget what Mark Twain
so quaintly and boldly reminded us of:

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; 
but it is lightning that does the work."
~Mark Twain

Before we even realize it is happening,
without being mindful of it at all,
self goes on autopilot,
and we
steal God's thunder.

Because you see,
any good thing in me,
(and dare I say)
any good thing in you -
any accomplishment,
any success,
any victory,
anything at all
that causes those around us to
stand up and take notice
the way thunder catches our ear -
is simply a direct result of The Light,
His light,
working in us.

It is not us,
but God who deserves the praise.

It is not us,
but God who deserves thunderous applause.

When people in our life,
somehow miss "His lightning",
and only notice the
crackling,
thundering,
reverberating sound
of His mighty work in our life,
it is our first and only duty
to direct their eyes to Him.

Only, we often don't.

Caught up in the flattery,
knee deep in compliments,
riding high on the accolades,
we say "thank you"
and allow His thunder,
(a direct result
of the work of His hands
lighting up
our gifts,
our talents,
our less than perfect efforts and attempts)
now mistaken as ours,
to shine in the spotlight.

We may be the one heard,
the one noticed,
the one who others see,
but
it is our
duty,
honor,
privilege,
and our only appropriate response
to point all the applause
back to our God,

Yes,
we might look good,
and we might seem impressive,
but it is God who does the work.

May we never forget
to give Him the glory.

May we ever be mindful
to sing His praise
in thunderous applause.



(Sharing again from January, 2016)

~Stacy



Thursday, May 2, 2019

Esperanza~

As I hung up the phone,
I could hardly breathe.
The news was simply too
wonderful to contain.
In fact, I felt as though
my heart would burst
with joy and excitement.

My husband and I
were going to have a baby . . .
a dream come true.

This wasn't the first time
I had heard these words
from the doctor
or experienced this overwhelming
flood of emotion.

Twice before,
I had been able
to surprise my man
with this same, wonderful news.

Twice before,
I had been able
to watch
as his face lit up,
and his eyes sparkled.

We both loved children,
and having one of our own
was a dream we both shared
and talked about often.

Twice before,
however,
I had also known the
deep sorrow and silent grief
that rips your heart apart
when you lose that little life
before you've even
had a chance to meet
your son or daughter face to face,
or embrace and tenderly kiss them.

This time was going
to be different, though.
I just knew it.

I could feel hope
running all through out my body,
from my head to my toes!

I had lost my father
eight months earlier,
and I felt as though
this was God's way
of bringing new life
back into mine
and joy back into my heart.

I could hardly wait
to tell my husband
and the rest of the world.

Even though my faith was strong,
and my hope sure,
I have to admit,
there were moments when
I would start to worry
about losing this precious little one, too.

When those moments came, however,
God was always faithful
to send a reminder
to keep me hoping.

Like the time
I was sitting
in a hospital waiting room,
waiting to have some
routine blood work done.

I started to feel anxious,
but before I had a chance
to dwell on these feelings,
a beautiful little girl,
about three years old,
came and sat down
right next to me.
As she did,
she placed her arm
on top of my arm
resting on the arm of the chair
between us.

We talked and laughed
and had the best time.
After a few minutes,
I asked her
what her name was.

"Esperanza," she replied.

"What a beautiful name.
Your name means HOPE
in English, doesn't it?"

She just smiled,
but her mother nodded and said,
"Yes. Yes it does."

I knew this because
Esperanza was the "girl" name
I had picked out
for this new little one.

Hadassah Esperanza Sanchez

Esperanza - Hope,
because all through out this pregnancy,
God had filled my heart
with hope.

Upon hearing her name,
instantly my fear vanished
and hope ruled my heart.
God was with me and everything
was going to be just fine.

Weeks flew by and soon,
at my six weeks Dr. visit,
I was able to not only see
my little one,
bu to hear the
beating of its tiny heart.

"Your baby has a strong heartbeat.
Everything looks and sounds terrific!"

Still, as the days went on,
fear tried desperately
to steal my joy.
With each moment of fear, though,
God was faithful to send me
a hope-filled moment
to hold on to.

Like the time I was driving
home from work
and caught myself once again
fearful of facing yet another miscarriage,
yet another heartbreak.
Turning a corner,
a sign at a church
beckoned for my attention.

There,
for all the world to see,
(or at least those driving
down this street)
were God's words of hope.

Now the God of hope
fill you with all 
joy and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope,
through the power of the Holy Ghost.
~Romans 15:13

I instantly pulled over
to the side of the road,
found a pen and paper,
and copied down
this powerful word from God.

I decided, then and there,
to commit this particular verse
to memory.
The next time Satan tried
to bring doubt or fear
to my heart or my mind,
I would hold up
my shield of faith
and quench his fiery dart
by boldly proclaiming
the hope in my heart.

Weeks turned into months -
three to be exact.
Then, my hope died,
right along with the death
of the tiny life
I had carried inside me.

I was devastated.

This time was suppose
to be different.

How could this be happening again,
especially after God
had been so deliberate
in His attempts
to encourage me
to keep hoping,
to keep believing?

I felt totally and completely numb.

To be totally honest,
I felt as though
God had been teasing me.

He knows the
end from the beginning.
And, He knew this pregnancy
was going to end
just like the two before it.
And yet,
He kept dangling hope
out there in front of me.

My numbness soon turned
to anger and bitterness.

Time went by
and I struggled
to keep my relationship
with the Lord
vibrant and strong.
I had walked with the Lord
long enough to know
His true character:
all love, all mercy, all wisdom,
all the time.

I knew God loved me
and only wanted the best for me.
I knew He was always
working all things for good
and for His glory.
I knew what Satan
meant for harm,
He could and would
use for my good.

My head knew all of this,
but my heart,
oh my heart.
It felt betrayed.
It had dared to hope.

Then one night,
as I was reading in Psalms,
God, in His tenderness,
revealed to me
the true substance of the hope
He kept placing in my heart
during those three months.

And I suddenly realized
my hope
had been completely misplaced.

All that time,
I had been placing my hope
in the life I carried,
not in the One
who was carrying me.

God did know
how this pregnancy would end.
He knew my heart
would once again
be broken into a million pieces.
He knew all of this,
and because He did,
He was preparing me
for this loss
by placing seeds of hope
into my heart.

Not hope in my baby,
but hope in HIM.

Tears filled my eyes,
once again,
as I found myself
on my knees
thanking my God
for being
all loving, all merciful, all wise,
all the time.

Over and over again
in the Bible,
we find verse after verse
leading us to the only one
we can truly
place our hope in.

Be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that
hope in the LORD.
~Psalm 31:24

And now, Lord,
what do I wait for?
my hope is in You.
~Psalm 39:7

Happy is he that hath
the God of Jacob
for his help,
whose hope is in 
the LORD his God.
~Psalm 146:5

Blessed is the man
that trusts in the LORD,
and whose hope
the LORD is.
~Jeremiah 17:7

Now, years later,
I would love
to be able to tell you
my heart no longer feels
the pain of these losses,
but that wouldn't be true.

Not a day goes by
that I don't feel the hurt.

Yet, through the hurt,
I have chosen
to keep placing my hope
in my God.

As I allow
the God of hope
to fill me
with all joy and peace in believing,
I abound with hope,
through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever been
disappointed by God?

Have you ever felt as though
He dangled hope in front of you
only to lead you to heartache?

If so,
I encourage you
to take a closer look.

Could it be,
like me,
your hope was misplaced?

The world and all that is in it
will let us down,
abandon us,
and leave us brokenhearted,
but our God -
who is
all love, all mercy, all wise,
all the time, -
never will.

Put your hope in Him
and I guarantee,
you won't be disappointed.



~Stacy


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

All. Over. Again.~

What started out as
"a little something for the birds"
has now morphed into
a whole lot of something for me.

"I think I'll pick up a little something for the birds,"
my husband had said one day.
"With the winter months here,
let's be God's way of feeding them."
With a wink and a smile,
he was out the door.

His little something turned out to be bird seed.

And while his choice of seed
must have been delicious,
we all know,
besides being a tasty menu item for birds,
seeds are also amazing encapsulations
of potential new life.

Spring has proven this to be true,
as now,
smack dab in the center of our yard,
a not-my-kind-of-grass
has started to make its presence known.

Here, there, and even over there,
this unwanted, unwelcome grass is sprouting up.

Not wanting this grass
to take over the entire yard,
I found myself
wrestling back and forth with myself
about what to do.

"Just look at it.
It's everywhere!
What good is pulling it out going to do?"

"Yes, that's true.
But, are you content
to live with this grass,
day in and day out?
Is this what you want
in your backyard?"

"But, Self -
take a good hard look!
Do you know how hard
it's going to be
to pull out each clump
of this new grass?
C'mon! It's going to be
nearly impossible.
And besides,
for each one you pull,
who knows how many new shoots
are just waiting
for the opportunity
to pop up!"

"I know. I know.
It's not going to be easy.
But, honestly, I
don't think living with it
is an option.
I don't want this grass in my yard."

Finally, (and thankfully)
the strong-willed side of me
outweighed the lazy side of me,
and the decision was made
to remove this grass immediately.

My plan of action -
soak this area of the yard,
and then the following morning,
one clump at a time,
pull these babies up by their roots.

Today was the following morning.

As I sat on the patio,
drinking my morning coffee,
e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y comfortable and content,
I gazed out at the unsightly grass awaiting me.

And, I realized again
what we often fail to remember
and what we often tend to forget:
Sometimes a decision will need to be made
over and over and over again,
if we are to reap the desired results.

In order to get myself
up out of my chair
and out into the yard,
I had to decide
to tackle this project
all. over. again.

And, because I only made a small dent
in this ever-increasing grass population,
I will need to make this same decision
again
tomorrow morning,
and the morning after that,
and many, many mornings after that,
all summer long.

It is this need to re-decide
and re-commit each day
that has me pondering anew
these words of Jesus:

But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say,  "There's the person who started that building and couldn't afford to finish it!"

Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?"
~Luke 14:28-31

Before we start,
we have to count the cost.
Before we start
we have to decide if we are willing
to start again tomorrow,
and the day after that,
and the day after that.

Do we have what it takes to finish?

Starting is only profitable 
if we follow through to finishing.

And, starting isn't just
a one time deal.
The kind of starting
that leads to the finish line
is a kind of starting
that starts again each day.

It's the kind of starting
needed not only for
ridding my yard of unwanted grass,
but also for
completing a degree,
paying off a loan,
losing the extra weight,
breaking free from the addiction,
reaching retirement,
raising a child,
making it to "til death do us part".

It's also the kind of starting needed
to be a disciple of Christ.

And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, 
you cannot be my disciple. 
But don't begin until you count the cost.
~Luke 14:26-28

Every moment,
of every day,
we have to decide
all. over. again.
to follow our Savior.

It's the kind of starting needed
(with the precious, ever-present help of His Spirit)
to walk away from temptation,
to overcome evil with good,
to do unto others as we would have them do unto us,
to be salt and light,
to face persecution,
to take up our cross and follow Him,
to run the race before us, finish, and finish well.

Relying on God has to begin 
all over again every day 
as if nothing had yet been done.
~C. S. Lewis

It's not enough to decide to start.
We have to keep deciding
all. over. again.
until we finish.


(This same grass showing up in my yard again this Spring 😩
has me remembering this post from April 2017.
I hope you don't mind me sharing it again.)

~Stacy


Monday, April 22, 2019

Take Them to The Throne Room~

We all have someone -
or quite possibly,
a heart overflowing
with someones,
who seem completely
out of our reach,
out of our control,
out of our ability
to do anything for.

We see them
bouncing through life
like a tiny ball
held prisoner
in a pinball machine.

And, try as we may,
and, try as we might,
we feel helpless
to reach through the glass
and rescue them.

Maybe ears all too
familiar with our voice
have turned away, -
turned deaf to
our counsel,
our advice,
our heartfelt
words of love.

Maybe ears
that need to hear
aren't quite close enough
to hear, -
they are
just outside our sphere of influence,
just beyond our boundaries.
Close,
but not quite
close enough.

Whatever the situation,
whatever the circumstance,
take heart, my friend.

They may be out
of your reach,
but they are never
out of God's reach.

When thoughts of them
consume your heart,
overtake your mind,
flow through your every
day in and day out,
lift your head upward
and let the cry
of your heart
flow straight
to the throne room
of Heaven.

He sees.
He knows.

Better than you or me,
He knows.

Fight for these precious souls
with the most
powerful weapon you have -
prayer.

Our God is mighty to save,
and it's up to
you and me
to place those in need
before our God.

Right here.
Right now.
Go to His throne.

Lift up these hearts
and place them
in His hands,
in His care,
in His presence.

Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy
and find grace to help
in time of need.
~Hebrews 4:16

The effective,
fervent prayer
of a righteous man
avails much.
~James 5:16



~Stacy



Thursday, April 18, 2019

And Then, What?

And then, what?

Sitting in a room,
surrounded by ladies,
young and old,
all yearning to draw closer
to our God,
I found myself
face to face with this question,
and totally and completely
alone with my thoughts.

We were seated around tables
watching the screen.
As Beth Moore opened
the Word of God,
God opened my mind
to a brand new way of thinking.

What is your worst fear?

The question came from Beth
and was followed up
with this invitation.  

I want you to think 
of the worst possible thing 
you could envision 
happening in your life.

Really?

The absolute worse scenario?

The most frightening thing I can think of?

The nightmare of all nightmares that could possibly happen in my life?

The thing I fear most?

Cancer?

Becoming a widow?

Homelessness?

Violence?

Ok.

Beth was ready to move on.
My mind was still reeling
with all the images
that had flashed wildly
before my eyes. 

So, let's say the thing 
you most fear, 
happened.  

Then, what?

As Beth took our hearts
and led us through this exercise,
we soon discovered,
as children of God,
all roads lead to Him.

If the worst possible thing happened,
then what?

Then, God.

All around the room,
no matter what
the scenario envisioned might be,
the answer to the question -
then, what? -
could be answered with
Then, God.

No matter what,
God would be there.

The worst possible thing
we can conjure up
in our fearful mind
is no match for our God.

Not even death.

Nothing we face in this life,
no matter how tragic
or how horrific it may be,
can keep us from God.

We may be
without our health,
without our spouse,
without our home,
without our very life,
but,
we. are. never. without. our. God.

And, ultimately -
isn't this the worst thing
you can possibly envision?

Being without God?

For the Christian,
the battle is already won,
the victory already sure,
the mansion already built,
the doors of Heaven already swung wide open.

And then, what?

Then, God!

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation
will ever be able to separate us from the love of God 
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 8:37-39, NLT


***********************************************

I wrote the above post
on December 1, 2012.

On February 4, 2016
one of the worst possible things
I could envision
happening in my life,
happened.

In less time
than it takes to say
"Don't worry, Handsome, I'm here",
my man was gone.

In less time
than it takes to take
your very next breath,
I became a widow.

And, you know what?

Beth was right.

In that moment,
and in every moment that followed,
then, God.

Through every tear,
through every decision,
through every fear,
through every sleepless night,
then, God.

Through every blessing,
through every provision,
through every listening ear,
through every understanding heart,
then, God.

God has been here,
and more than that,
He has been more than enough.

I no longer have my husband,
but praise God,
I have never. for. a. second.
been without my God.

And, I've come to realize now -
more than my heart
could ever have truly understood
the day I wrote these words
for the very first time:

We may be
without our health,
without our spouse,
without our home,
without our very life,
but,
we. are. never. without. our. God.

And, ultimately -
isn't this the worst thing 
you can possibly envision?  

Being without God?


Yes.

But, praise God.

Then, God!



~Stacy



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Someday You Will~

It's a funny thing about words.

Sometimes,
we don't truly grasp
the meaning of all they imply
or are intended to convey
until a time further down the road.

Often,
at a time when we least expect it,
but need a revelation the most,
words spoken long before,
speak to our heart.

This was the case for the disciples.

They had followed Christ,
only to desert Him
in His time of greatest need.

They had witnessed the suffering
He had endured,
and they had beheld
His lifeless body
on the cross of Calvary.

They had also been given
the awesome privilege
of being eyewitnesses
to His resurrected body.

It was His resurrection
that took them back in memory
to another time and another place
when Jesus' words had been spoken,
but not truly understood.

Not until this very moment,
that is.

The scene of remembrance was the temple.

Merchants,
with only dollar signs in mind,
were selling their goods.
Instead of a house of worship,
the temple was now
a place of
theft, corruption, and human greed.

Jesus raised His voice
and His hands
and put a stop
to this mockery.

As tables were turned over,
and the business in the temple
was turned up side down,
tempers flared.

The Jewish leaders demanded, 
“What are you doing? 
If God gave you authority to do this, 
show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

“All right,” Jesus replied. 
“Destroy this temple, 
and in three days 
I will raise it up.”

“What!” they exclaimed. 
“It has taken forty-six years 
to build this Temple, 
and you can rebuild it 
in three days?” 

But when Jesus said “this temple,” 
he meant his own body.

After he was raised from the dead, 
his disciples remembered 
he had said this, 
and they believed 
both the Scriptures 
and what Jesus had said. 
~ John 2:18-22 (NLT)

Sometimes,
it takes a
journey,
desertion,
persecution,
suffering,
death,
or in this case,
a resurrection,
to open our eyes 
to the truth 
God has already placed 
in our heart 
days, months, or even years before.

As we daily walk with God
and dig deep
into the riches of His Word,
we uncover spiritual truth
and heavenly treasures.

Some are realized
the moment we discover them.

Some, however,
are not completely unwrapped
or truly appreciated and understood
until a future moment in time.

Some scriptures are just
words on a page
that have yet
to illuminate our heart and mind.

But, rest assured.

There will come a time
when the very Words of Life
we have heard before
will come back
to fill our heart with hope
and deepen our faith in our Lord.

In a moment when
we least expect it,
but when we need
HIS revelation the most,
words spoken long before,
scriptures we have read,
verses we have memorized,
holy words resting on the page
of God's Holy Word,
will speak
deep,
wonderful,
encouraging truth
to our heart.




~Stacy



Saturday, April 13, 2019

More Precious Than Gold (Or a Debit Card)

An unprecedented number of children
attending an 8:30 am Children's Church Worship Service
found me racing through a store on Easter Sunday.

What a glorious morning!

As I maneuvered my way through the aisles,
I almost couldn't contain
the joy I felt inside.
Now, with the 11:00 am worship service
only an hour away,
I hurried to the garden section.

I had ordered what I thought
would be more than enough flower pots
for the children who would attend our Easter services. 

We were celebrating Jesus bringing new life
and planting seeds seemed like the perfect way
for these children to carry this truth
home in their heart.

Surprisingly, though,
when the first service began
and the children kept filing in,
I knew I wouldn't have enough
for the children at the 11:00 am service.

So, here I stood,
in my Easter best,
waiting in line at the check-out counter.

Finally, it was my turn.

"That will be $15.64," the clerk announced.

I opened my wallet and reached in
to pull out my debit card
only to discover my debit card
wasn't there. 

I peeked behind my driver's license. 
I searched through the few measly dollar bills
stuffed in the back. 
No debit card. 

Frantic as to where it might be,
and more than aware
of the long line forming behind me,
I silently prayed, "Help me, Jesus."

"Ma'am.  Is there a problem?  $15.64, please."

I don't carry my checkbook with me,
so I reached for the few dollar bills
I had tucked in the back. 
One ten. One five. One one.
$16.00.
Amazing.

I finished my transaction,
gathered my flower pots,
and headed to the car.
As I unlocked the car door
and climbed inside,
I thanked God for answering my prayer.

As I drove back to church, though,
all I could think about
was my missing debit card.

"Lord, why today?  On Resurrection Day?  On the day I have been looking forward to this entire year? Lord, as I worshipped You at the Sunrise Service, just a few hours ago, my heart was filled to overflowing with tears of joy.  As the children decorated their flower pots during the 8:30 am service, their laughter and comments brought one smile after another. My heart was so full of joy, Lord. Why did this have to happen now?  Today?"

And, then it hit me.

Nothing is too big or too hard for my God.
He is ruler over all things and above all things.
Not even death could hold him back.

"Lord, I'm so sorry.  Please forgive me for allowing something as insignificant as money to steal my joy and diminish my faith.  Lord, I place this in Your hands and I praise You.  You are more than awesome, more than amazing, more than enough.  Thank you for the precious gift of the cross.  Thank you for taking the sting out of death.  Thank you for the oh, so very blessed hope we have in and through You. Thank you for the joy of the resurrection.  Thank you for the joy of knowing You.  I love you, Lord, and I can't wait to worship with the children at the next service."

Arriving back at church,
I shared my story of the missing card,
the $16.00 miracle,
the worry that almost hijacked my joy, 
and the God who is worthy
of our praise in all things.

Once home,
I looked through my wallet again. 
There, safely tucked inside
the zipper coin compartment,
was my bank card. 

It had been there all along. 

Evidently,
the only thing
that had been in jeopardy
of being stolen
on this day of unsurpassed joy
was my joy.

Thank God, even this,
my more-precious-than-silver-or-gold joy,
was safe and secure
when I kept the eyes of my heart
placed firmly on my God.



~Stacy

(Re-posting from April, 2013)



Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Way of the Cross~

Awkward and uncomfortable,
a fellow believer and I
stand in the hallway at church;
our words guarded,
our conversation stiff.

Words spoken in the past
have now formed a dam,
causing the normal flow of communication
to seek alternate routes.

As we sputter and stammer
and search for the right words,
we are interrupted
by a five year old boy
on the way to his classroom.

"Look, Ms. Stacy!
I have something to show you!"

With one hand,
he tugs on my pant leg.
With the other,
he tries balancing his open Bible,
while flipping pages with his chin.

"WOW. Did you get a new Bible?" I ask.

"No. It's my same old Bible,
but what I want to show you is new."

As he searches for the new treasure
he longs to share,
we "adults" attempt
picking up our awkward conversation
right where we left off.

It is obvious our hearts
are on different sides
of this issue.
It is also obvious
this is a chasm
that will not easily be crossed.

"Oh, look! Here it is, Ms. Stacy.
Here's what I want to show you!
LOOK!"

He points to a picture of Jesus,
bent low,
under the weight of the cross.

"Oh, honey.
It's a picture of Jesus carrying the cross."

"Yeah. It's sad. Don't you think?"

My eyes meet the eyes
of the man standing beside me.
We both nod in agreement.

"Yes, sweetheart.
It is very sad.
But, that's how much
Jesus loves us.
Jesus loves us so much
He was willing
to carry that heavy cross
and He was willing to die on it."

"Yeah," he shakes his head up and down.
"And He died for all of us, didn't He?
For me, and you, and you."

Now he's using his free hand
to point at me
and my brother-in-Christ.

"Well......want to hear the new part?" he asks excitedly.

"Yes, I'd love to hear it."

Again,
eyes of two different viewpoints meet
and we wonder together
what this little heart
has discovered.

"The new part is from when
I looked at that picture.
I prayed and told Jesus
I would carry it for Him.
It's new because this story is old,
BUT, if it was a new story,
this time,
I would carry the cross for Him."

With that,
he snaps the Bible shut,
and heads down the hall
to his class,
skipping and smiling
all the way.

Standing alone once again,
all we can do is smile,
lower our heads and walk,
each to our own destination.

Strife.

Division.

All too familiar roadblocks
in the body of Christ.

One person sees it this way.
One person sees it that way.

Neither can see past
their own way
to see The Way.

The same old story -
time and time again.

But,
what if?

What if this time,
we chose to make the story new?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to bend low?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to sacrifice,
to trade our want for the want of the other?

What if this time,
one of us was willing
to walk the road of love?

What if this time,
one of us was willing

     to carry the cross of the other,

          to walk in a different pair of shoes,

               to see this issue from a different point of view,

                    to give up our all that all might be gained?

I peek in the window of the classroom
where this sweet little boy
now sits at a table with his friends.

As he points to the picture
and excitedly shares his revelation,
I lift my eyes to heaven and smile.

Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you for loving us, 
all of us, 
enough to carry the cross;
the cross You would give 
Your very life on.

Thank you for this precious little boy 
who has opened my eyes 
to see a new way,
a death to self, 
life-giving way.

May, I too, 
be willing to carry Your cross, 
to die to self,
that Your body, 
the church, 
might live.

As I head down
the same old hallway,
I carry a brand new truth
in my heart:

The only way to cross a chasm
is by way of the cross.~




~Stacy

(Re-posting from April, 2012)




Monday, March 25, 2019

The Message in the Heart~

God can speak anywhere.

Even
(and for me,
quite frequently it seems)
in a Facebook feed.

This morning as I was scrolling
through Facebook,
I came across a comment
that God used to
speak to my heart
in a precious,
yet extremely powerful way.

Someone had shared a meme
that simply said,
"Leave a 💛
and I will tell you
what I like most about you."

The "friend" who posted this
is a distant friend at best -
a son of a friend from years ago -
neither of whom I live close to,
neither of whom I have seen
or interacted with in years.

And yet, curiosity, -
or maybe just
flat out nosiness -
got the better of me.
Even though
I didn't know any of the people
who had commented,
I found myself extremely interested
to see the comments
this friend had left behind
for all who had chosen to leave a 💛.

Most were simple,
yet sincere replies:
You're funny.
You share my love of ____.
You're a hard worker.

But then,
there was this -
a comment that left me wishing
I knew the person
the comment had been written about:

You're a highly intelligent person who
uses their experiences to relate to others
instead of shutting down.

And I wondered . . .
how many of us
(highly intelligent or not)
are willing to take the experiences of life -
the good, the bad,
the happy, the sad,
the beautiful, and the ugly
and use them as unique ways
through which
we can relate to others?

I think if we are all honest,
we would have to admit,
our natural response,
especially to experiences of life
that seem anything but positive,
is either shutting down,
or unfortunately, lashing out.

Relating to others -
no,
we don't always stop to
consider this possibility.

And yet, we should.

One of the most valuable lessons
God has taught me
over the last several years of my life
is this:
Our experiences matter.

They matter
simply and profoundly
for the purpose
of us relating to
and connecting with
our Heavenly Father in ways
we can't even imagine possible.

And they matter
simply and profoundly
for the purpose
of us relating to
and connecting with
others in ways
we can't even imagine possible.

But, as I sit here typing this,
I want you to know
I feel the same conviction
or uneasiness that you might be feeling.

Yes, I have taken my experiences
and I have written about them
and I have shared them with the world -
but,
when it comes to relating face to face,
when it comes to opening the door of my home,
or opening the door of my heart -
one on one,
up close and personal,
I tend to shut down,
to shut the door (and bolt it tight)
and hide.

It's not easy to put ourselves out there -
especially for the sake of someone else,
when we ourselves feel
vulnerable and broken,
hurt and abandoned,
lost and confused,
overwhelmed and undone.

And yet,
you sharing your story
and me sharing mine -
each of us using our experiences
to relate to and connect with each other,
each of us discovering something
so familiar and so comforting
in our different experiences that are
so amazingly similar -
there is nothing quite like it.

This is community.
This is humanity
lived out at its best.

And as Christians,
who are called to live out our faith
and be a living expression of
the love,
the hope,
the healing,
the comfort,
the wisdom,
the strength,
the peace,
the power,
the forgiveness,
the joy,
(and so much more)
that is ours in and through
Christ Jesus, our Lord,
we cannot afford to miss this opportunity.

This is Christianity
lived out at its best.

All praise to the God and Father 
of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!
Father of all mercy!
God of all healing counsel!
He comes alongside us
when we go through hard times,
and before you know it,
he brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times
so that we can be there
for that person
just as God was there for us.
~2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)

And, let's not forget.
It's not just the "bad" experiences
that beckon for us to share them,
it is also the good.

Every experience has value.
Every experience can be used by God
to help or encourage another,
all the while helping and encouraging us
in the process of sharing them.

It's simply (and amazingly)
the way God made it.

When I take the time to relate to you
and you take the time to relate to me -
relationship happens.
True relationship.

It's not always easy.
It's not always neat and tidy.
It's not always without
its awkward moments or messiness -
but it is almost always worth it.

And,
just in case you're wondering,
no -
I didn't leave a 💛 behind.
The reason:
(visualize me with my head hung low)
I haven't taken the time
to "relate" to this person.
He would be clueless
as to what to reply.

And, I can't help wondering-
who else do I supposedly know
who would also be clueless?

How many people have I kept at bay?

How many times have I turned my heart away
instead of turning my heart toward?

How many times have I chosen
to shut down
instead of choosing
to use my experience
to help me better relate and connect
with God,
or to better relate and connect
with someone else?

It was just
a simple Facebook post,
a simple meme,
a simple 💛,
but in the comment
that was left behind,
God was faithful
to leave a precious,
yet extremely powerful
heartprint of His own.

And me,
I am so thankful He did.
It was a message
my own heart
so desperately needed
to be reminded of.




~Stacy

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Bottom Line~

"Oh, I am sooooo sorry."

I have to admit,
this was a first for me.

Not apologizing,
(I've had way too many
apologizing moments
over the course of my life),
but apologizing
out loud
to a plant.
(Ever done that before?)

Oddly enough,
the events that led me here, -
apologizing to a plant -
were set in motion
several weeks earlier
when I had been the one
on the receiving end
of an apology.

A pilot light on my furnace
that refused to stay lit,
resulted in a service call
and a repairman
giving me a diagnosis
that started with this apology:

"Oh, I am sooooo sorry, Mrs, Sanchez,
but see this?
And, this?
These cracks in the ________________
(insert a furnacy sounding word here)?
And this white powdery build up?

These cracks can allow carbon monoxide
to leak into your home,
and this powder tells me
your heater isn't burning efficiently.

Bottom line:
You need a new furnace.
And unfortunately,
I am not comfortable
lighting this one for you."

Since warmer weather
was still three or four weeks away,
and since purchasing a new furnace
was not in my budget,
I decided to set up a makeshift bed
in the smallest room in my home,
and in the company of
a small space heater,
ride out the rest of winter
in this one room,
all cozy and warm.

Only,
in order for my new "bed" on the floor
to fit in this small space,
I had to re-locate a
rather large hibiscus plant
(which I had brought indoors
for the colder months)
from a sunny corner
to a dark hallway.

As I picked up the plant
to carry it to its new location,
I was surprised to see -
this precious gift from my husband
that had been flowerless all winter -
now had several blooms
starting to develop.

Fast forward to today.

With Spring finally starting
to make an appearance,
I decided to move back into my bedroom
and move the hibiscus
back into its previous sunny location.

Only,
when I went to get the plant
from the dark hallway,
I couldn't help but notice
the blooms were no bigger today
than they were
when I had moved the plant
several weeks ago.

"Oh, I am sooooo sorry."

The words of apology
came out of my mouth
before I even had time
to stop and realize
I was apologizing to a plant.

And yet,
the words seemed appropriate.
Even when spoken to a plant.

Especially when
gently lifting the plant
to move it,
the two tiny blossoms
fell to the floor.

(I know. 😔)

"If only I had kept you
in the light."

Yes, it was me again,
still talking to this precious plant.
And, as God is always faithful to do,
He took this opportunity
to talk to my heart, too.
(And now, maybe to yours, as well.)

Sometimes,
events in our life,
completely out of our control,
pick us up
from our "sunny place"
and set us down
in a new place that seems
cramped, cold, and void of light.

Grief.
Illness.
Divorce.
Unemployment.
Depression.

And yet,
even in these places,
even in the midst of
these dark circumstances and situations,
what you and I
have to remember,
and what you and I
can never afford to forget
is this:
If we have Jesus,
the Light is still there.

"I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me
shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life."
~John 8:12

Unlike my hibiscus plant,
which was powerless to seek out
a source of light on its own,
you and I
have all the power we need,
in and through His Spirit
to seek out,
to remain in,
to survive and thrive
in His light,
even and especially in
the darkest times of our life.

If we have Jesus,
if we continue to follow Him,
if we are faithful to keep
the eyes of our heart focused on Him,
we can still have
the Light of life.

Why?
Because He is our light.

The Lord is my light
and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
~Psalm 27:1 (NKJV)

The people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived
in the land where death
casts its shadow,
a light has shined.
~Matthew 4:16 (NLT)

But you are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
His own special people,
that you may proclaim
the praise of Him
who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.
~1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness 
doesn't extinguish the light.
~John 1:5 (CEB)

Because of Jesus,
no matter where we may find our self -
in the grip of sin,
in the grip of fear,
in the grip of death,
in the grip of sorrow,
in the grip of uncertainty,
His light is still there.

All we have to do
is keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

All we have to do
is allow His light
to infuse us,
to illuminate us,
to encourage us,
to nourish us,
to comfort us,
to sustain us.

But . . .
if we don't -
if we don't
purposefully and intentionally
choose
to stay in His light -
just like my poor plant,
we will fail to grow,
and worse yet,
we may even wither up,
and die.

The bottom line:
We need Jesus.

And as hard
as it is
to admit this to ourselves sometimes,
this is also the bottom line:
It's not the situation or circumstance
that keeps us in the dark,
it's our response to it.

Now that my plant
is back in its sunny place
right by the corner window,
I'm hopeful new blooms will come.

And I have no doubt,
if you and I
will keep walking in His light,
over time,
even in the darkest of places,
we will bloom again, too.




~Stacy



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Very Heart of Who You Are~

So many of you are new here.
So . . .
just in case you are wondering  . . .
here's a little about me
and this place called "Heartprints of God".

I grew up in a loving, Christian family.
I went to church every week,
memorized scripture,
and knew all about
what it meant
to be a Christian.

Sadly, I didn't grow up knowing Christ.

And believe me,
there is a difference.
A huge difference.

From the sidelines of life,
I stood watching the rest of the world
march to the beat
of its own drum
while aimlessly stumbling
around in the dark
to hear the beat
of my own heart.

Everyone else seemed
to have it all together.
Everyone else seemed
so confident in who they were,
in what that were doing,
in the living out of their life.

Not me.

It wasn't easy lugging around
heavy suitcases filled with
insecurity, self-doubt, fear
and a whole lot of other "unmentionables"
day in and day out.

I knew I was a
child of God,
but what did that mean?

How did that
help me
find my place?

Why did I always feel 
so out of place?

Fear held me prisoner.
I was
afraid of people,
afraid of failure,
afraid of life.

Needless to say,
this fear kept me
from being and doing
all that God had created
me to be.

But then .  . .
God began changing everything.

I started experiencing
a hungering and a thirsting
for something more.

I began to feel as though
the fear in my life
was suffocating me, -
sucking the very life out of me.

Lord, I want to be free.
I want to find my place.
I want to live.
I want to experience You.
I want to KNOW YOU.

Awww . . . at last,
my heart finally realized
what was missing.

Knowing God.

And so my search began.

My husband
(who at this time wasn't yet my Mr.
but who definitely KNEW God)
bought me a brand new Bible
and on the inside front cover,
placed a heart sticker
with the following verse:

And you shall seek me,
and find me,
when you shall search for me
with all your heart.
~Jeremiah 29:13

Then each day,
I set aside time
to read God's word.

I had read the Bible before,
but this was different.
I wasn't reading the Bible
to fill some religious requirement
or to memorize a verse
so I could place a sticker on a chart.

I was reading
to find God.

Before opening the pages
of God's word,
I would stop,
drop to my knees,
and open my heart to God.

I prayed for His Spirit
to open my eyes
to see Him.

I prayed for His Spirit
to open my ears
to hear Him.

I prayed for my heart
to know His heart.

And, I was not disappointed.

The Word of God
came alive to me.

Instead of a book
I didn't understand,
it became God's love letter
to me.

Each day I couldn't wait
to spend time
feasting on God's word.

The more I read,
the more I prayed,
the more I sought,
the hungrier I became.

The hungrier I became,
the more I read
and the deeper my
fellowship with the Lord.

Then, one day,
I came across the following passage:

For this cause I bow my knees
unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of whom the whole family 
in heaven and earth is named,
that he would grant you,
according to the riches of his glory,
to be strengthened with might 
by His Spirit in the inner man;
that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
and to know the love of Christ,
which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled 
with all the fullness of God.
~Ephesians 3:14-19

There it was.

May you be able to comprehend
with all saints
what is the
breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
and to know the love of Christ,
with passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled
with all the fullness of God.

It was what I was longing for -
to know the love of Christ,
with passeth knowledge.

I wanted Christ in my heart,
not just in my head.
I wanted to be filled with
ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD.

Kneeling down,
I invited Christ into my heart.

From that moment on,
His love
and the beauty
of who He is
has captured my heart.

I am no longer
held captive by fear
because God's perfect love for me
has cast out my fear. (1 John 4:18)

Now,
FINALLY,
I have found my place
in this world  . . .
only the beautiful thing is . . .
my place isn't in this world,
it is IN CHRIST.

No wonder I always
felt so out of place!

I am learning
who I am IN and THROUGH CHRIST
and this has made
all the difference
in who I am.

I am a sinner saved by grace.
Nothing I could ever do
would be worthy of Christ's love for me.
He loves me
simply (and amazingly!)
because He loves me.

The closer I get to Him,
the more I find out
who I am
and why I was created.

I more I come to know Him,
the more I come to know
my purpose on this earth.

The deeper I fall
in love with Him,
the more complete I am.

A heart transformed by the love of God.
A life changed by His presence.
A sinner saved by grace.
This is who I am.

God has completely changed my life.

Since I have come to know Him,
He has opened wide
doors of opportunity
for me to share His love with others.

Which,
brings us here,
to this place,
to this ministry,
to Heartprints of God.

I invite you to come in,
sit down for a bit,
and rest in His love.

May you come to
truly KNOW the Lover of your soul,
the one for whom you were created
to love and to serve.

May you find HIM here,
and in so doing,
find the very heart
of who you are.



~Stacy

Friday, March 15, 2019

Until You Have~

I stood in the back of the wooden chapel.

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

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

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

Not this year.

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

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

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

And, then the tears came -
SO many tears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He would be with us.

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

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

(During my season of grief, God has been faithful to reveal His precious truths to me in so many ways. This - a selection from my newly released book, "You'll Be Fine, Beautiful. You've Got God." For more information and/or to purchase a copy, simply click HERE.)



~Stacy



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Feeling Forgotten?

Have you ever wondered
if you have fallen off
God's radar?

Life was merrily rolling along
and then all of a sudden
you found yourself
in a prison,
out to pasture,
thrown in a tomb.

Joseph.
David.
Lazarus.
You.
Me.

No matter where you are.
No matter how silent you find this place to be.
No matter how unforgotten you may feel.

Rest assured.

God knows where you are.

He has not forgotten you.
In fact, chances are,
where you are
is right in the center of God's will.

When only a youth,
God gave Joseph a glimpse
of where he would one day be.
Prison wasn't it.

In fact, his journey to prison
was nothing Joseph
could ever have imagined.

From a pit, to slavery, to prison.
Where was God in this?
Right beside Joseph,
that's where.
Waiting for the perfect,
God-ordained time
to take Joseph's hand
and lead him
from the prison
right into the palace.

David was out in the pasture
tending sheep
when Samuel came calling
with a call from the Lord.

His family
may have overlooked him.
His own father
may not have thought him
worth calling for.
But God hadn't forgotten about him.

In fact, David was the reason
Samuel had come.
He was God's man
and soon everyone knew it.
The shepherd soon became King.

And then there was Lazarus.

Sick, dead and buried,
but far from being forgotten.
Jesus came and not a minute too soon.
He was right on time
and Lazarus received
a call of his own.
At the words of Christ,
life came into his body
and he came forth,
out into the light
of God's resurrection power.

Maybe where you are
is far from where
you ever thought you would be.

Looking around your life,
you, yourself, have doubts
as to where you even are.

Don't worry.
God knows where you are.
In His perfect timing
and in His perfect way,
He will come calling.

He sees you in the prison.
He is with you in the lonely pasture.
And yes, even in the dead places of your life,
the places where you can no longer
see a sign of life,
He is there.

Stay faithful to your calling.
Stay faithful to your God.
Keep trusting Him in these
dark, barren places of your life.

He is with you.
He is working behind the scenes
and one day,
it WILL happen.

The door will open.

The call will come.

The dead will spring forth with life.

As Joseph stood before his brothers,
the very ones who had sold him into slavery,
he proclaimed this truth.

You intended to harm me, 
but God intended it all for good. 
He brought me to this position 
so I could save the lives of many people.
~Genesis 50:20, NLT.

God's purpose was revealed.

David, who had been faithful
to keep a watchful eye
upon his father's sheep,
was now the one being gazed upon
as Samuel anointed him
to tend the sheep of Israel.

Then he asked Jesse, "Is this it? 
Are there no more sons?" 
"Well, yes, there's the runt. 
But he's out tending the sheep." 

Samuel ordered Jesse, "Go get him. 
We're not moving from this spot until he's here." 
Jesse sent for him. 
He was brought in, 
the very picture of health— 
bright-eyed, good-looking. 

God said, "Up on your feet! 
Anoint him! This is the one." 
Samuel took his flask of oil 
and anointed him, 
with his brothers standing around watching. 
The Spirit of God entered David 
like a rush of wind, 
God vitally empowering him 
for the rest of his life.
~1 Samuel 16:11-13, The Message

God's purpose was revealed.

Lazarus, dead, and buried,
and lifeless for four days,
walked right out of the tomb
and back into the lives
of everyone watching;
a living testimony
of God's power to bring whatever is dead
back to life.

Then Jesus shouted, 
“Lazarus, come out!” 
And the dead man came out, 
his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, 
his face wrapped in a headcloth. 

Jesus told them, 
Unwrap him and let him go!” 
Many of the people 
who were with Mary 
believed in Jesus 
when they saw this happen. 
~John 11:43-45, NLT

Lazarus walked in newness of life
and once again,
God's purpose was revealed.

The God of Joseph, David and Lazarus
is our God, too.
When it seems
God has forgotten us
or life has taken a wrong turn,
we simply need to remember this:
God HAS a purpose.

Soon, in God's perfect timing
and in His perfect way,
His purpose will be revealed
in our life, too!




~Stacy


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Hidden in the "No"~

I will never forget the conversation
I had with an elderly lady
several years ago.

We were seated next to one another
at a conference on prayer.

After the last session,
as everyone was packing up their Bibles
and leaving the room,
she leaned over and asked,
"Do you believe in prayer?"

"Yes. I do," I replied.

"I don't," she stated matter-of-factly.

Her answer caught me off guard -
so off guard, in fact,
that before my mind
had time to pray about a response,
my mouth blurted out,
"You don't? Why not?"

As we sat back down,
she told me her story.

The love of her life,
her husband of 30+ years,
had found another love.

He made no excuses,
just an honest,
"I don't love you anymore"
followed by divorce papers
and an empty side of the closet
where his clothes once hung.

For years,
(40+ years I discovered),
she had prayed night and day
for God to bring her husband
back home.

"It wasn't that we was wonderful
at being a husband,
because he certainly was not.
But, he was mine.
You understand, don't you, dear?

He was mean, uncaring, and selfish -
but he was mine.

All these years,
I have prayed.
And, all these years,
my prayers have gone
unheard by God
and unanswered.

I used to believe in prayer,
but not any more.
Not now.
It's obvious God 
doesn't care about me."

"From what you've told me,
this man caused you
heartache and grief
even before he left you.
Why would you want him
back in your life?

I'm sure the way he treated you
must have hurt God's heart.

Have you ever stopped to think
that God loves you SO MUCH
He chose not to subject you
to that abuse any longer?

Maybe what you think
is God saying 'no'
is actually God saying
'I want so much better for you'."

Her eyes filled with tears
and for a moment,
she turned away from me.

Then,
she reached out,
took hold of my arm
and began sobbing uncontrollably.

"I never thought of it like that.
Why haven't I
ever thought of it like that?

All these years
I've been so angry at God
for not listening,
for not answering,
for not caring.

Maybe God was hearing me,
after all.

Maybe, just maybe,
He was watching out for me,
in spite of me.
Thank you."

And with that,
she stood up
and darted out of the room.

40+ years this woman
had allowed a broken relationship
to hold her prisoner.

40+ years this woman
had allowed bitterness and anger
to rob her
of her relationship with God.

I'll never forget our conversation.
I'll never forget her tears.
I'll never forget the look in her eyes
when she saw God's heart
in a new light -
the light of His love for her,
in spite of her anger,
in spite of her bitterness,
in spite of her pleas.

Our God loves us
like no one ever has
or ever will.

When we don't understand His ways,
when we don't get our way,
when we pray and pray and pray
and feel as though God doesn't care,
HE DOES.

All the time,
more than we can ever know
or even imagine,
He does.

Disguised in what
appears to be silence
is a love that we can't even
begin to comprehend.

Hidden in the "no" is often
a merciful, tender,
"I want so much better for you".

Does God hear our prayers?
Every single one.

Does God answer our prayers?
Every single time.

Do I believe in prayer?
Yes, I do.




~Stacy


(Sharing again one of the most liked Heartprints of God posts - this one from April, 2013)