Thursday, February 14, 2019

God's Heart of Love~


February 2013:
Today, when I arrived home from work, I popped into my bathroom to throw some water on my face and "freshen up" after a long day. After splashing my face, I reached for my towel and then, out of habit, I looked straight ahead at my reflection in my mirror. Only today, my reflection was framed by a paper heart.

Evidently, after I had left for work this morning, my husband had cut a heart out of a piece of paper. Then, he strategically placed the original paper - minus the heart - on my mirror in the hope that when I looked at my reflection, I would see my face framed "inside" this heart. As special as this was, it didn't compare to the words he had written on the border of the paper frame. It simply said....."Look How Beautiful".

As I stood there, smiling from my lips all the way down to my heart, I was reminded once again of the "heart game" my husband and I play with each other. I wrote about it back in March 2009 and just had to share it with you again. I hope you don't mind. Our game never grows old and neither does God's love for us. Truly, Jesus is the Lover of our soul.

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

Yesterday morning,
before I left for work,
I lovingly placed
a small, red plastic heart
in the coffeemaker.

Yes, you read that right.....
the coffeemaker.

I pulled out the container
normally reserved
for the filter and the coffee,
and placed "my heart"
there instead.

As I walked away
from the kitchen
and headed out the door,
I couldn't help but smile
as I thought of the
surprised look
sure to be
on my husband's face
when he made coffee
later that morning.

Before the coffeemaker,
the red heart
had been spotted when,
one evening,
I returned home from work
to find a beautiful flowering potted plant
sitting on our bathroom window sill.
The heart was propped up
against the purple pot,
in plain sight
for all to see.

Before the plant,
the red heart had surprised
my husband one morning
when he bent down
to pick up the newspaper.
Both the heart
and the morning news
were waiting to greet him
on the sidewalk
leading to our home.

Before this,
I had discovered the heart
in the refrigerator,
atop a container of leftovers
I had planned to take
for my lunch that day.

The heart exchange is something
my husband and I do
on a regular basis.
It was never discussed
or planned,
it just happened.

We have been doing it f
or so long,
I'm not sure how
it actually got started,
 but it has yet
to lose it's "magic".

The heart is a symbol
of our love for each other,
and I'm not sure
which is more rewarding -
leaving the heart to be found,
or discovering it!

As I tucked the heart
into the coffeemaker,
I thought about God
and the beautiful and faithful way
He, too,
tucks reminders of His love
into each of our days.

Sometimes God's love is seen
in the obvious,
like the beautiful flowering plant,
showcasing His love
for all to see.

Other times, however,
His heart may be tucked
into the mundane,
day to day places of our lives
like the refrigerator
or the coffeemaker.

In every situation,
and in every place,
God's love is waiting to be discovered.


In a beautiful sunrise.
In a baby's laugh.
In a promotion.
In a good meal.


These are the obvious places.

God's love is also found
in the not so obvious.


In the dark of night.
In the tears of suffering.
In failure.
In times of desperation.


In the refrigerator times of life,
when all seems cold,
and we are shaking with fear,
God's love is there.


In the coffeemaker times of life,
when the stress and demands
of day to day living
cause us to percolate
and steep in the heat
of the battle,
God's love is there.


God's love is even waiting for us
when we receive news
that leaves us
uncertain of the future.

If we just look,
we will see His heart.


Last night,
with a wink and a smile,
my husband informed me
his morning coffee
was the best
he had ever had.

That was my intention,
to sweeten his day
with a reminder
of my love for him.

Today,
keep your eyes open
for reminders of
God's love for you,
 and this day
just might turn out to be
the best today
you've ever had!~♥

Missing my husband every day, 
but oh so much today. 
 Giving thanks, always, 
for a love as precious 
as that of my husband, 
but more importantly, 
a love as precious 
as that of my Heavenly Father.
To have received love from both - 
I am so blessed.

~Stacy

Monday, February 11, 2019

Reeled In~ (Captivated - Part 2)

A great fisherman is hard to find,
but a great fisher-of-men,   
is a treasure indeed.


When I met my husband,
I was blessed to find both.


And while a wedding gift magnet       
on our refrigerator
always brings a smile to my heart,
being "caught" not only by my husband,
but by the Holy Spirit as well,
is what cheers my heart the most!

**********

It was the summer of 1991
and I had two goals in mind:
taking classes I needed
for my teacher re-certification
and finding God.

My sister,
who lived near the college
I had graduated from,
invited me to spend the summer
with her family.

So, with suitcase in tow,
I showed up June 1st.

As I unpacked my things
in the small bedroom
I would be sharing
with my ten month old niece,
I invited God
to show up in my life, too.

I had a brand new Bible
with one goal in mind:
my pursuit of God.


And, on the inside cover,
my husband to be
placed a heart sticker with this promise:
"You will find me
when you search for me
with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

Each day,
I knelt by my bed
and prayed.

I prayed for God
to reveal Himself to me.

I prayed for the Holy Spirit
to open the eyes of my heart
to see God
in a real, life-changing way.

I prayed God
would create in me
a hunger and a thirst
to know Him more.

And each time I prayed,
God was faithful
to show up.

Little by little,
the words of the Bible
began to makes sense to me.

The more I read,
the more I wanted to read.
The more I wanted to read,
the more what I read
began to sink into my heart
and take root.
The more God's Word
began to take root,
the more I began
to hunger and thirst for more.

A God who I had
always thought to be distant,
unapproachable and harsh,
was now becoming a God
who was deeply interested in me,
loving, merciful, kind,
and all love,
all the time.

It was amazing.

The more I sought God,
the more I found Him
and the more I found Him,
the more my heart desired
to know Him more.

I was falling in love
with the Lover of my Soul.

My fisherman had been faithful
to throw out the line,
but it was the Holy Spirit
who was drawing me in.

As I studied God's Word that summer,
the Holy Spirit led me
to Paul's prayer
in Ephesians 3:14-19.
As I read the words
of Paul's heart,
they became the desire
of my own:

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.

I was starting to
scratch the surface of God's love
and His love,
His love was reeling me in.

And now,
twenty-eight years later,
I am totally and completely
caught -
hook, line and sinker.

Yes,
I am
totally and completely
captivated by His love.




~Stacy


Captivated~ (Part 1)

Have you ever been captivated?

Maybe that question leaves you
scratching your head
and gazing upward in contemplation.

Maybe you answered immediately
with a flat out-loud "NO".

Maybe...just maybe...
you aren't sure how to answer
because you aren't completely sure
what it means to be captivated?

I didn't know what it meant -
not until, that is . . .
I was captivated by God's love.

**********

You've got to be kidding me! 
You're joking, right?

But, he wasn't.

Instead of watching a movie
or the latest sitcom,
my boyfriend
(who thankfully became my Mr.)
wanted to watch sermons
and tune in to Christian TV programs.

Instead of "hanging out"
on a Wednesday night,
my honey wanted to go
to a prayer meeting.

Instead of jamming
to the "Top 10" on the radio,
my sweetheart was filling his
home, car, heart and mind
with lyrics that focused
our attention on God.

Instead of just simply
sitting around talking,
my love
wanted to talk
about His love,
as together we opened the
pages of  God's Word,
and read,
              and read
                          and read.


We both called ourselves "Christians",
but this man....
this man was seriously "in love" with God.

Me...
I went to church
because it was expected of me. 

And, on occasion,
I did read my Bible,
but quite honestly,
it never made any sense to me. 

And listening to sermons on TV,
well, that just didn't appeal to me. 

I was a "one-day-a-week" Christian. 

No,
come to think of it,
I wasn't even that.

I was a fraud.
Christian in name only.

In love with God,
nope,
not me.

But seeing it lived out
in the life of my
soon to be husband
created a hunger and thirst in me.

I wanted what he had.

I wanted to want God.

I desired to desire God.

I yearned to yearn for God.

And even though I didn't know it at the time,
this wanting,
this desiring,
this yearning,
was the beginning
of my own love story
with God.

When you come looking for me, 
you'll find me. 
"Yes, when you get serious 
about finding me 
and want it more 
than anything else, 
I'll make sure 
you won't be disappointed."
~Jeremiah 29:13, The Message

I didn't know it then,
but my heart,
my heart was already becoming ........
                        
captivated by God's love.




~Stacy

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Wounds of a Faithful Friend~

As I gazed into my mirror,
curling iron in hand,
I was reminded of a conversation
I had with a straightforward second grader
over fifteen years ago.

I can still hear
his soft spoken voice,
although the words he spoke
were anything but soft
to my ears
or my ego.

Each morning,
I would read a short devotion
to my class.
I was right in the middle
of the reading for this particular day,
when out of the corner of my eye,
I saw a hand shoot up,
signaling to all
this youngster had something to say.

And boy, did he!

Not wanting to deviate
from the spiritual lesson
I was sharing with these young hearts,
I smiled at this student,
assuring him I had seen his hand.

Then, I did some
hand talking of my own
as I gave him the
"hold that thought for just a bit" sign.

Instead of his hand going down,
like I had hoped it would,
his mouth started doing the talking for him.

"Teeeeeeeeeeeeacher,
I have something to tell you!!!!"

"I know, sweet heart.
Can it please wait until after
we finish our devotion?"

"No, Ma'am!!
You're gonna wanna hear about this!!!!"

"Ok. What do you want to tell me?"

"There is a gray hair
sticking straight up
on the top of your head.
I can see it from way back here!"

He was right about one thing.

If I did indeed
have a gray hair
standing straight up
on the top of my head,
I would definitely
want to know about it.

But, me?

A gray hair?

No.
This was where
he had made his mistake.

"Thank you for sharing that with me,
but I think you must be mistaken.
You see,
I don't have any gray hair yet."

"Oh, yes you do!"

The remark came from a student
sitting on the opposite side
of the classroom.

"I see it, too!"

Within seconds,
the room was flooded
with eyewitness accounts
of a gray hair spotting
in our classroom.

Unfortunately,
all reports were linking my head
with this bizarre sighting!

I immediately headed
for the nearest mirror.
And you know what I saw?

Yep!

A gray hair
standing straight up
on the top of my head.

No wonder this boy had seen it.

It was proudly
proclaiming it's arrival
in grand fashion.
As it stood tall,
reflecting every bit of light
in that classroom,
it wasn't any wonder
it had caught their attention.

After all,
who could miss THAT?!

Uhhhhhh, obviously me.

Until this honest, straightforward little boy
had so bluntly pointed it out to me,
I had been totally oblivious to it.

But be doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
deceiving yourselves.
For if anyone is 
a hearer of the word
and not a doer,
he is like a man
observing his natural face
in a mirror;
for he observes himself,
goes away,
and immediately forgets
what kind of man he was.
~James 1:22-24

I had looked in my mirror
that very morning
and had failed to see
what others could see
so plainly.

I wonder how many times
I have looked at my reflection
through the pages of God's word,
only to be blinded
to my own sins.

How often has my pride
kept me completely in the dark
about my true spiritual condition,
while those around me
can spot my need for repentance
a mile away?

The truth hurts and is never easy 
on our ears, our ego or our heart, 
and yet how we should covet 
the honest words 
of a faithful friend. 

The words of truth
that bring confession,
dropping us to our knees
and into the hands
of our forgiving God.

Nathan was that kind of friend to David.

Thinking his sin
of adultery with Bathsheba
and the consequential prearranged murder
of her husband on the battle field
were well hidden
and out of sight,
Nathan confronted him
with words that cut
to the very heart of David.

"You are that man!"


David confessed.


God forgave.


Then, David continued his journey,
pursuing the heart of God.


The truth hurts.
There is no getting around that.
But, truth also sets us free.

The pain has a distinct purpose;
to open our eyes
to the real us,
and our need for a real God.

As iron sharpens iron,
so a man 
sharpens the countenance
of his friend.
~Proverbs 27:17

When truth is given to us,
we have a choice to make.

We can resist it
and in anger
turn away from it.

Or, like David,
we can run to it,
embrace it,
be broken by it,
and be all the closer to God for it.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; 
but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
 ~ Proverbs 27:6


~Stacy

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A God-Given Invitation~

Have you ever read something
and knew instantly
God had placed it in front of you
for a distinct purpose?

Several years ago,
God led me to this quote.

“If the size
of the vision for your life
isn’t intimidating to you,
chances are
it’s insulting to God.”
~Steven Furtick

The moment I read it
I knew God was speaking to me.

More specifically,
I knew God was speaking to me
about the vision for my life:
writing.

I love to meet the Lord at my computer.

As I place my hands
on the keyboard,
He is faithful
to place his message
in my heart.

As I move my fingers
to the beat of His heart,
words begin to appear,
sentences begin to form.

In moments of sweet communion,
we weave together His story
of love and forgiveness,
hope and encouragement,
redemption and restoration.

There is no doubt about it.
I love to write.
But, for some odd reason,
thinking of myself as a writer is very....
what is the word?

Yes!
Intimidating!

In fact,
when I think of myself
as a "real" writer,
intimidating almost isn't a big enough word
to describe all the emotions I feel.

Intimidating.

Usually when we think
of this word,
we associate it with
something that instills fear.
I think it is interesting to note, however,
this word means so much more
than just us shaking in our boots.

Dictionary.com defines it this way:
to discourage, restrain, 
or silence illegally or unscrupulously

I don't know about
illegally or unscrupulously,
but I know all too well
about intimidation being
discouraging, restraining and worst of all,
silencing.

I also know,
if I allow it to,
intimidation can steal my dream
and cloud my vision.

But that morning,
as I sat in my pajamas,
the light of the new day
just beginning to spill into
our living room,
I realized in this quote,
the Lord was giving me an invitation.

God was inviting me 
to dare to live out the dream 
He himself 
had placed in my heart.

Before I was ever formed
in my mother's womb,
God knew me.
It was God who
molded me and formed me.
It was also God who
planted the "I want to be writer" seeds
in my heart.

This passion,
this longing of my heart,
is not incidental. 

It is my invitation.

It is not meant to be intimidating,
it is meant to be invigorating.

And, it is -
when I let God
write through me.

In fact,
when God chooses to use me
to speak His words
of hope, encouragement and love,
invigorating almost isn't a big enough word
to handle all the emotions I feel.

Intimidation comes
when I forget
the words of the Lord
found in Zechariah 4:6:
Not by might, 
nor by power, 
but by my spirit, 
saith the LORD of hosts.

Remember the rest of the Steven Furtick quote?

"...chances are it’s insulting to God.”

The plans God has for my life
(and yours, by the way)
are far grander
and more amazing
than I could ever
think or imagine.

And, by myself,
they are unreachable.
Yet, when I partner with
the creator of my heart
to fulfill the desires of my heart,
they not only become obtainable,
they become the very thing
that brings life to my life.

That's the way God made it.

That's the way God made me.

He made me to be a writer;
a teacher of His Word
through the written word.

The intimidation is simply a reminder 
to never step out into my dream 
without my Dream Giver. 

It is also a reminder
to not take this gift lightly.
God has placed within me
a treasure,
His treasure,
and it is my responsibility
to utilize this treasure
so His excellency can shine forth
from this earthen vessel. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Now, I ask you.

What is your vision for your life?

Is it intimidating to you?

If so, no worries.

Your intimidation just may turn out to be the invitation of a lifetime.



~Stacy