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!

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."

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.



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.

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.~


(Re-posting from April, 2012)

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Message in the Heart~

God can speak anywhere.

(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 -
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 -
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.

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.


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.

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.

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.)

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.


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.

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
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.


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

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)

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
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.

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.


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
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
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.)


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.


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!


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.

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,

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.


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

Monday, March 4, 2019

Our Calling~

most times, in fact,
we simply don't see it,
and we simply 
have no way 
of truly knowing.

On my knees,
in front of the window
in our spare bedroom, 
a place that has become to me
my own special sanctuary,
the tears fell long and hard.

In this lowly posture,
I found myself 
overcome with shame
and apologizing profusely
to my Heavenly Father.

The date - February 4.
A date that marked 
three years
since my husband passed away.

The shame - wasted time.
Three years of "being still"
and mourning this great loss
with nothing to show 
for the passing of this time.

I know as I wept 
in the presence
of my Heavenly Father,
His comfort was there 
for the taking -
(He is the Comforter, after all),
but my own emotions 
ran so deep,
I had a hard time 
gasping for my next breath,
much less partaking of His comfort.

I cried myself dry,
but the shame 
that drove me to my knees
was with me still,
as I stood to my feet
and walked out of the room.

It wasn't until a few weeks later,
on February 26th, to be exact,
that my heart,
still burdened low,
was able to hear 
the precious stirring of His Spirit.

I was holding in my hand
the proof copy of my new book,
"You'll Be Fine, Beautiful.
You've Got God."

And, without even thinking about it,
suddenly I found myself thinking about
my husband's funeral
and the words
God had so graciously given to me to share
as I stood in front of a crowd of people -
nothing written down 
on a note in my hand,
just the words flowing from my heart.

Words I no doubt 
wouldn't even remember me saying
if my husband's service 
had not been videotaped by the church
and then given to me 
as a precious treasure.

"I wish he would have known
what a difference he made.  
So many times 
he would come home from work,
discouraged and feeling down.
'I want my life to count.
I want my life to make a difference
and here I am 
just doing this piddly work 
day in and day out.'
And I would tell him,
it's not insignificant 
what you are doing.
I know that to be true
because I know you.
You couldn't be around Steve
without being greeted with
an enthusiastic hello.
You couldn't spend time with him
and not hear him 
speak words of life and encouragement."

Then - these precious words
from my Heavenly Father:

"I wish you would know
what a difference you have made.
These last three years 
have not been idly wasted away.
Every single word
written in each of your books
(and so many more
not included there)
were written during these three years.
What you spent your time doing, -
seeking me in the deepest place of grief,
sharing My faithfulness with others,
I wish you would know
what a difference you have made
because it is not 'insignificant'."

And I wonder 
how many times
you - just like me -
for whatever reason -
either through 
the voice of the world,
the voice of the enemy,
the voice of friends and family,
or the voice from yourself,
have found yourself,
bent over low,
burdened beneath the guilt 
of living a life 
that seems to you
to be insignificant.

How many times
have you questioned
if your life counts?

most times, in fact,
we simply don't see it,
and we simply have no way 
of truly knowing.

And I think what
both my man and my God
would have me share 
with you here 
are the rest of the words
I spoke on that day,
at that beautiful, hope-filled service,
three years ago.

"I wish he would know
what a difference he made
because it was not insignificant.
And, I wish that each of you 
would understand, too.
You may not feel
like what you're doing 
is making a difference -
but every single life counts.
Every. single. life. counts.
Every person you meet,
every place you go,
every thing you do,
is an opportunity
to bless someone else
with the blessings God has given us
to shower on other people.
He made his life count.
And, I wish we could learn from him -
and as we walk out those doors today,
to just go out
and bless our world
with the love of God
through love for each other."


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Exactly Right~

As soon as I open
the bathroom window,
I see them.

All of them.

Bright. Pink. Beautiful.

Our peach tree is in full bloom,
and the blossoms are
straight ahead, 
in my direct view,
only a few feet away,
as I look out the window.

And, I smile.
And yes, 
(if you've been reading here 
for any amount of time,
you know what's coming next),
I cry,
all at the same time.

And I remember
like it was just yesterday,
the brief, but oh so precious,
conversation between
my husband and me when, -
so many years ago,
I opened this very same window,
the very first spring 
after this tree had been planted,
and saw the blossoms.

Totally surprised
and completely overcome
by the unexpected beauty 
that greeted my eyes,
I had immediately called out to my man.

"Handsome!  Come quick!
Come see!  Handsooooome! Come here!"

not knowing why
I was calling out for him,
my man had immediately
started making his way towards me
as soon as he had heard me calling.

"What, Beautiful?  What is it?"

But, as soon as he 
was able to see me
standing there
looking out the window,
he knew.

And, he smiled.
A huge, beautiful "I love you" smile.

"Oh!  They are so beautiful!
Look at them, Handsome!"

"I knew you would like them.
That's why I purposely planted
that tree exactly in that spot.
I wanted you to see the blossoms
each and every spring
when you opened your window."

three years after his passing,
this Spring,
like so many others before,
finds me standing at my window,
soaking in the beauty right outside.

As odd as it may seem,
when my husband 
planted this peach tree,
he had one mission in mind:
to bless his wife
with a beautiful peach blossom "bouquet"
every spring.

That's it!
That was his purpose.

And, if we happened, by chance,
to be able to harvest
a few peaches each year,
they would simply be
icing on the cake.

When considering the location
for planting this tree,
he never once stopped to ask
if the soil in this spot was rich enough,
if the yard in this spot was "sunlighty" enough,
if the spot would make a good spot or not.

And probably to those looking on, -
those who only see the tree
but not the heart or the intention
of the one who planted it -
this tree doesn't seem to be
in the right spot at all.

And yet -
for the purpose 
for which it was planted,
it is in exactly the right spot.

And I can't help 
but think about me,
and the places where
God, Himself,
has chosen to plant me.

Especially now,
when the place 
I currently seem to be
doesn't seem "right" at all.

someone who 
avoided funerals,
avoided those who were grieving,
avoided all the 
heartbreak and all the uncomfortable
that came with loss.
here, now,
heart deep in a ministry -
that for the last three years, at least -
has been totally and completely
centered around and focused on

And what God spoke 
to me so tenderly today,
as I stood taking in the beauty
right outside my bathroom window 
was this:

To you, looking on,
it might seem as though
I never thought once about
whether this assignment was
a good fit,
a good choice,
a good spot for you to be,
but when I uprooted you
and planted you in this new spot,
I had a specific purpose in mind.

When others have weathered 
the dark and cold of mourning,
and are brave enough
to open the window of their heart
and peer out 
past the sorrow
and the grief,
and the heartbreak,
to the new season 
opening up before them,
I want them to be able to see,
directly in front of them,
right there in plain sight,
My faithfulness,
My presence,
My goodness,
My love.

I have handpicked you
and your ministry of words
to be a living "bouquet" -
showcasing to all
who I am.

For this moment,
for this time,
for this season,
you are exactly in the right spot.

The blossoms on the tree
are beautiful.
Not only do they speak to me
of my husband's love,
but also of my Creator.

I pray,
with the Spirit's help,
I, too, can bloom
in a way
that honor's my God,
that draws hurting hearts
and tear-filled eyes
straight to the Father.

And that through the words here,
through something His Spirit
types through my fingertips,
others will come to see 
a revelation of their Heavenly Father
they have not yet seen, -
a revelation that will
and heal.

Yes, this tree -
it is exactly where it
needs to be.

Lord, may I, too,
be willing to bloom
exactly where You
have chosen to plant me.

Where has God planted you?

Chances are,
you, too,
are in exactly the right place
for the purpose
for which He has in mind.


Allow God to use you
to be a beautiful expression
of who He is.