Sunday, June 30, 2019

A God Thing~

hearing God's voice
is easy.

"Thou shalt not steal."

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."

hearing God's voice
is not.

And really,
maybe it's not
the actual hearing
that is difficult.
Maybe it's knowing if
the voice we are hearing
is truly God's
that makes listening so tricky.

This morning,
as I was sitting
at my kitchen table
working on some photos
for my Heartprints of God facebook page,
I got an alert
on my phone
that I had a message.

The message was from
a former student of mine
who lives in another state -
who is now all grown up -
a husband
and a father.

The message was a Facebook link
to a live church service,
followed by these words:

I know you can't 
be here today,
but if you can watch
and say a prayer
for our children,
that would be awesome.
We are commissioning 
our kids today.
We should be after this song.

I clicked the link
and instantly
found myself
joining this precious family
in worship
and the commissioning service
of their young son and daughter.

After words of
Godly instruction and encouragement
from the pastor,
followed by words of
declaration and commitment
from all of the parents
participating in the commissioning service,
the pastor asked those
who were there today
representing these families,
to please stand
and reach their hands forward
as he prayed over
these young children
and their parents.

I stood up
right at my kitchen table
and reached out my hands
in the direction
of my computer screen
and this precious family.

As the pastor prayed,
tears of joy and thanksgiving
made their way down my cheeks.

To have had the honor
to know this man
as a child.

To have had the honor
to speak words of Jesus
into his heart
and into his life.

To see him now,
with children of his own,
desiring nothing more than
for his own son
and his own daughter
to know and love
the Jesus
he knows and loves.

To be the one
he would invite
to stand with them
in prayer
and as a witness -
what an honor.

Because you see,
six months before
my husband passed away,
my man and I
had sat at the funeral
of this student's father.

because you see,
six months after
my husband passed away,
my sister-in-law and I
had sat at the funeral
of this student's mother.

because you see,
earlier this year
in another message,
speaking about himself
and his two brothers,
this student had left
these words behind:
Thank you Stacy
for all you've done
in our lives.
You've helped us
grow into the men
we are today.

because you see,
just this past Mother's Day,
this student
left this comment
on a photo I had posted
of my own mother and me:
I've decided that 
you're now
my adopted mom.
You've given enough
lectures, scoldings, 
praises and encouragement
through my years
that most mothers 
give their own children.
Happy Mother's day from me
and all of your former children.
Love you.

Today wasn't simply about
and standing up for
and supporting this family
as a former teacher,
but. as. family.

And I tell you all of that
to tell you this:

When I went to bed last night,
I couldn't shake the feeling
that I should
stay home this weekend
and not attend church.

I kept hearing this
over and over and over
in my spirit,
and as I did,
I kept trying to figure out
if it was God's voice
directing me to stay home
or if it was mine -
choosing to be selfish,
choosing to be anti-social,
choosing me instead of choosing "Thee".

after much time in prayer,
I finally decided
for whatever reason,
this was indeed God's voice.

So, I obeyed.

I stayed home
and decided
to spend the morning
working on photos.

that's when the message came.

The very same message -
that -
if I had been attending church -
would have went
un-acted upon
until a couple hours later
when it would have been
too late.

hearing God's voice
is easy.
it is not.

Especially when
the voice we are hearing
seems to be contrary
to what we think
His voice should be saying.

"Stay home from church."

what God is teaching me -
(and maybe you, too)
is this:

God will ask us
to let go
of a good thing
so He can
exchange it with
a God thing.

There would have been
absolutely nothing wrong
with my attending church, -
that is definitely a good thing to do -
if I would have been there,
I would have missed
this very special God moment.

Looking back now
it's easy to see,
God didn't want me
to miss church,
He simply had
a different location in mind.

And I found myself,
once again
with tears in my eyes,
thanking God for
arranging it all
so I might be a part -
even if only via online.

And I found myself
once again down on bent knees,
praying earnestly for
ears that will always
hear His voice clearly,
a spirit that will always
discern His voice distinctly,
and a heart that will always
obey His voice completely.

My sheep
hear My voice,
and I know them,
and the follow Me.
~John 10:27

Speak, Lord.
Your servant is listening.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Real Deal~

My grandma,
born and raised
in the deep South,
was a spunky lady,
to say the least.

She had a dry, witty
sense of humor
and was famous
for her one-liners.

While her words
always brought a laugh,
they also revealed her wisdom.

Long after the laughter faded,
her words
resonated in my heart.

As a young, single woman
in my early twenties,
I often traveled by myself.

I thought nothing
of getting in my car
and driving seven hours North
to see my parents,
or ten hours East
to spend time with my sister.

My parents, however,
worried about my safety.
Time after time,
they cautioned me
of the dangers
of traveling alone.

One time,
this familiar
topic of conversation
came up
while we were visiting
my grandma.

"I don't know why
she insists
on traveling by herself,"
my mother said,
as I sat right beside her
on my Grandma's couch.

"I keep telling her
to get a man's hat
and place it
in her back window.
That way,
it would at least
look like a man
was traveling with her.
For all they know,
he could simply
be taking a nap
in the backseat!"

Without skipping a beat,
my Grandma leaned forward,
looked directly at me
and remarked,
"Forget about the hat, honey.
Get a man!"

Laughter spilled into the room.

Then Grandma continued.

"Who wants
a silly ole hat
when you can have
the real deal?!"

And of course,
for all practical purposes,
Grandma was right!

I understood
my mother's reasoning
and felt her love for me
in this odd request,
but I had to agree
with my Grandma.

What good would a hat do?

It was, after all, just a hat.

At a quick glance,
it might give
the appearance
that a man
was along for the ride,
but appearances and reality 
are two totally different things!

Could a hat
change a flat tire for me?

Could a hat
take the wheel
and drive for me
if I got tired
and needed a break
from the driver's seat?

Could a hat
protect me
from a would be assailant?

the hat was merely
for show
and would only provide
a false sense of security.

I didn't need a hat.
I needed a man!

As ridiculous as I found
my mother's idea to be,
I couldn't deny
the joke was on me
when it came to my spiritual life.

I had grown up
in a Christian home
and had attended church
from a young age.

I knew all about God,
the Bible,
and what it meant
to look like a Christian.

In fact,
anyone who spotted me
cruising through life
would have been sure
to notice my Bible,
my Christian lingo
and my Christian ways.

if they would have gotten
close enough
to peer into
the backseat of my heart,
they would have discovered
all these
were just for show.

I was traveling life alone.

I had religion,
but what I needed 
was the man, Christ Jesus.

It wasn't until
my earlier thirties
that I traded in
my religious facade
for a true, vibrant,
living and breathing
relationship with the Lord.

Through the power
of the Holy Spirit,
God became real to me
for the first time in my life.

Now, my Bible
is no longer on display
for all to see,
but instead,
it's words
are hidden in my heart,
guiding, leading and transforming me
little by little,
day by day.

The words I speak
are no longer spoken
to impress others
with my spirituality,
but rather
to impress upon others
the beauty and freedom
that can be found
in a relationship with Jesus.

I pray each day
God will take
the wheel of my life
and live
in and through me.

I am no longer satisfied
with religion.

I am no longer content
to live a life
"just for show",
and why should I be?

Think about it.  

Can religion
forgive my sins?

Can religion
create a new heart in me?

Can religion
live in and through me?

Can religion
feel my hurt,
understand my fears,
or speak to my heart?

No, only Jesus can.

Why would I want to settle 
for anything less 
than Jesus?
...and why should you?


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Rose-Colored Glasses~

Have you ever
seen yourself
in the behavior
of someone else?

everywhere I look,
through unexpected Stacy-sightings,
the Lord has been revealing to me,
the real me.

Minus a sugar coating
to sweeten each revelation,
these new insights
have been pretty hard to swallow.

It's easy for me
to fool myself
into thinking I am
something (or someone)
I'm not.

when I look at other people
and then compare my behavior
in light of theirs.

Sure, I'm hopping mad, 
but at least my temper 
isn't as bad as his!

Wow, I can't believe 
how critical she is. 
I would never judge 
someone else 
like that!

I hear you laughing.
You know exactly
what I'm talking about
because you, too,
have said or thought
the exact same thing!

We humans are funny creatures,
aren't we?

And yet,
there's nothing like
catching our reflection
in the actions of someone else
to steal the chuckle
right out of us!

Why is it
we have such
a hard time
seeing the real us?

Good or bad.
Positive or negative.

Those with a chip
on their shoulder
often see in themselves
qualities, gifts and talents
the rest of us
can't quite see,
while those
with a poor self-image
have trouble spotting that
which is so obvious
to everyone else.

I think it is because
we tend to look
at ourself and others
through human eyes.

But God,
He sees our heart.

And, it is the ugliness
in my heart
that has been popping up
in the least likely places.

I really shouldn't be surprised, though.

A few days ago,
after getting
an unexpected heart-revelation,
I decided to pray
the same prayer David prayed.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
~Psalms 139:23-24, NLT

The great I Am,
the Lover of my Soul,
the Spirit of Truth,
is He.

and often painfully,
He is revealing me ... to ME.

The real me.

Not my reputation,
but my character.

Not who I like to think I am,
but who I really am.

it hasn't been pretty.

it's exactly what I need.

Unless we come 
face to face 
with real us, 
we will never come 
face to face 
with our need for a Savior.

The closer I get to God,
the more I realize
just how wretched I am.
(You, too?)

The more I learn
of His spotless character,
the more I discover
the sinfulness and filthiness
of my own.
(You, too?)

The deeper I fall in love
with my Savior,
the more I humbly bow
before my God
and thank Him for
the gift of Jesus,
the gift of salvation,
the gift of redemption,
the gift of re-creation.

This means that anyone 
who belongs to Christ 
has become a new person.
The old life is gone; 
a new life has begun!
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

but surely,
one revelation at a time,
God is remaking me
into His image.

At times it is
and down right humiliating,
not to mention,

I am learning
to let God search me
and try me,
and then,
to miraculously change me.

Upon Godly inspection,
I am definitely not 
who I thought I was.

But, hallelujah,
thanks to Godly sanctification,
I'm not who I used to be either!


Monday, June 17, 2019

The Seen and the Unseen~

I often think,
and have even went so far
as to tell some people,
if my husband
(who passed away three years ago)
was somehow able
to come back now,
he would take one quick look at me
and exclaim,
"Girl! What happened to you?"

To which I would reply -
"You! You leaving is what happened to me!"

Now three years later,
in so many respects
and is so many ways,
I have no doubt
I would be
almost unrecognizable
to the one
who knew me so well.

For starters -
I feel as though
I have aged
at least thirty years
in the last three.

Make no mistake about it.
Grieving is hard work.
It is taxing and exhausting -
and yes, spiritually.

Tears that fall uncontrollably.
Sleep that comes sporadically.
Reminders of loss that pop up unexpectedly.
Forward motion that happens hesitatingly
(and only by God's grace and strength -miraculously).

My hair, grayer.
My face, deeper wrinkled.
My stamina, weaker.
My breathing, more labored.
My eyes (I fear), a bit dimmer.

To be honest,
sometimes I
even look in the mirror
and ask myself,
"Girl?! What happened to you!?"

Grief definitely changes you.
Sorrow no doubt affects you.

And while my physical appearance
would definitely
catch my husband by surprise,
once he got over the shock
and spent even the tiniest
amount of time with me,
he would soon discover
I have changed in other dramatic ways, too.

A slowing down and soaking in,
a taking notice of, marveling at, and giving thanks for,
a deeper realization of what matters most,
a greater understanding of the brevity of life,
all interwoven and completely intermingled with
a dire urgency to make each moment count.

An intentionality and purposefulness in each "yes" or "no".
A uncompromisingly bold resolve to not
be swayed by the opinions of others,
be governed by the approval of man,
be sold-out to the system of this world.

A deeper, truer faith and an unswerving desire
to surrender my plans for God's,
to submit my will for God's,
to hold on if God says so,
to let go if God says so,
to trust all the way,
to obey all the way,
to serve, honor, please
and glorify
my God,
not half-way,
not two-thirds of the way,
not three-fourths of the way,
not even 99.9% of the way -

No. Matter. Who.
No. Matter. What.
No. Matter. Where.
No. Matter. When.
No. Matter. Why.
No. Matter. How.

To seek first His kingdom.

To walk by faith, not by sight.

To lean not on my own understanding
but in all my ways to acknowledge Him.

To be transformed by the renewing of my mind
so I won't be conformed to the ways of the world.

To desperately pant for God
the way a deer
desperately pants for water.

To desire His truth in my inward parts.

To worship my God in spirit and in truth.

To live a life worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus my Lord.

To die to self that His Spirit
might live in me, and through me, despite me.

Yes, if my man looked closer,
he would discover
soon enough,
that alongside
the obvious,
not to be missed,
can't help but be seen
physical "decay"
and wear and tear of grief,
there has also
risen up in me
a deeper spiritual strength
that cannot be missed.

A strength that
no doubt
was born out of my sorrow,
a direct result of my grief.

we do not lose heart.
Even though 
our outward man
is perishing,
yet the inward man
is being renewed
day by day.

For our light affliction,
which is but for a moment,
is working for us
a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory,
while we do not look
at the things
which are seen,
but at the things
which are not seen.
For the things which are seen
are temporary,
but the things which are not seen
are eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

It's interesting,
how sorrow and strength
can be so interconnected.
How what feels
as though it will
completely break you,
if placed in the hands of God,
is what becomes
the very thing
that will make you -
and more humbly
desperate for God.

And, I often think,
and have even went so far
as to talk about it
with the Lord in prayer,
if my husband
was somehow able
to come back now,
he would take one quick look at me
and exclaim,
"Girl! What happened to you?"
but then,
then . . .
upon closer inspection . . .
he would take another look,
smile a smile uniquely his own,
and with the nod of his head, remark -
"I like it.
I do.
I like these changes a lot, Beautiful."

Me too, Handsome. Me, too.

I'll gladly take the unseen
(even if they come
at great cost to the seen)
any day,
and every time.

. . . being confident
of this very thing,
that He who has
begun a good work in you
will complete it
until the day of Jesus Christ.
~Philippians 1:6


Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Voice of My Father~

My father passed away
over fourteen years ago,
and yet, at times,
it seems as though
time has stood still
since I saw him last.

In my mind's eye,
I can see him still -
sitting out on the back porch,
legs crossed,
one leg resting atop one knee.

And of course,
those long legs of his,
cowboy boots.

One arm is resting on the arm rest,
while the other one,
bent at the elbow,
is providing his head
with a bit of rest, too.

While I vividly recall
his mannerisms and gentle ways,
it is the words he spoke to me
that I remember most.

I think this is because
he was a man of few words.

Even now,
I hear his voice
of instruction, guidance, humor and spunk.

In winter:
Don't forget to pack a sleeping bag
in the trunk of your car.

In summer:
If you get a flat tire,
make sure when you pull over
you aren't parking on tall, dry grass.
You wouldn't want to start a fire.
Oh....and watch for snakes.

In fall:
Isn't that the prettiest harvest moon
you have ever seen?
(It's easy to see
where my own
love for the moon
comes from.)

In spring:
Watch for snakes.
(Snakes seemed to be
on his mind a lot).
The weather is getting warm
and they'll be coming out.

In conversation in our home:
Talk nice.

When traveling:
Don't drive too fast.

After dinner:
How about warming us
a piece of that peach cobbler
and putting a little shot of ice cream on it?

When shopping:
Let's just pop in here for a minute
and see what they have.

When someone in our family was angry:
Why are you mad at me?
I didn't throw any rocks at your dog.

When referring to me:
How's Daddy's Darlin'?

It is these phrases, these words,
that now give me comfort,
keep me packing a sleeping bag
in my trunk
during the cold months of winter,
keep me watching out for snakes,
and smiling.

It is no different
with my Heavenly Father.

Every day, in my heart,
I hear his voice
speaking to me, too.

In relationships:
Love another
as I have loved you.

In trials:
Be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.

In decision-making:
Acknowledge me
and I will direct your paths.

In my mistakes:
Confess your sins to me
and I will forgive you.

In my fears:
I didn't give you
a spirit of fear.
I gave you love,
power and a sound mind.

In my day-to-day life:
I am with you always.

I am so thankful
for my earthly father.
His wisdom and love
guide me still.

Yet, I am most thankful
for my Heavenly Father,
The Giver of all good gifts,
the One who gave me
the precious gift of my earthly father,
the One who knows me better
than I know myself.

It is HIS voice
that leads me into
the paths of righteousness.

It is HIS voice
that leads me to
my eternal home.

It is HIS voice
I want guiding me
each and every day.~

(Re-posting in honor of Father's Day and my Daddy's birthday, June 22.)


Thursday, June 13, 2019

All I Need~

I never knew 
what alone felt like 
until one hot August day.

Standing on the sidewalk
leading to my college dorm,
away from all that was familiar
and smack dab into
all that was foreign,
I knew.

My parents had made
the long trip with me.
Mile after mile,
hour after hour
we traveled
until we arrived
at the next chapter
of my life.

What seemed to take
forever to pack
was unloaded in minutes.

Tommy's Truck
{Photo Credit}
Now, my parents were leaving.

As I stood on the sidewalk,
watching my parents drive away,
tears fell without reservation.

But then,
through blurry eyes,
I saw the red of brake lights.

The truck headed
to the side of the road
and stopped.

Moments later,
my father stepped out
of the truck
and began walking
toward me.

As he did,
I walked to meet him,
happy for one more
moment together.

As we met,
he took my hand in his
and said,
"One friend, Stac.
(My Daddy always called me Stac.)
All you have to do
is make you one friend
and everything will be fine.

One friend.
That's all you need, Darlin'."

He smiled a smile
that was bittersweet,
then, he turned
and walked
back to the truck.

This time,
I watched the brake lights
disappear into the distance
and then,
out of sight.

My father's words,
stayed with me.

And as usual,
Daddy knew best.
One friend later,
"everything was fine".

One friend
made all the difference.

Now, years later,
I remember His words,
and I smile.

You see,
Daddy's darlin' has found
the ONE friend
that sticketh closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24)

His little girl
has found the ONE friend
who loves her enough
to die for her.

I've found THE ONE
who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life,
and everything is fine.

Yes...Daddy knew best.

This ONE friend,
is all I need.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

For His Name's Sake~

I don't tell you this to boast,
but to make a point.

When I was little,
I almost never got in trouble.
(At least not while I was
 outside the walls of our home.)

I never got sent to the Principal's office.
I never had a "run in with the law".
I was a good kid who always tried
to be on my best behavior.

Like I said,
I don't tell you this to boast,
but to make a point.

And, my point is this:
How I behaved reflected on my parents.

I knew what I did would either
bring them praise or....

I knew this
because my father
had told me so.

"Stac, (my daddy always called me Stac) 
wherever you go and whatever you do, 
remember this. 
You're a Mitchell. 

You're wearing my name. 

When you were born 
I proudly gave you my name 
as your own. 

Wear it proudly. 

Never do things 
that will bring shame to you, 
to me, to your mother, to your sisters 
or to our family name."

Now, I have a new name.
I have been adopted into a new family.
I am now a daughter
of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I now wear HIS name.

As a Christian, I, too,
have a responsibility
to be on "my best behavior".

Not to bring praise to me,
but to uphold the name of my Heavenly Father,
to live my life for His name's sake.

As a Christian, 
my behavior is directly interwoven 
with God's reputation.

Through reading God's Word
and the guiding of the Holy Spirit,
you and I have come to know
the true character of God.

He is merciful and just,
forgiving and kind,
faithful and true.

We know who God really is.

But sadly, not everyone does.

Your life may be the only Bible some people read.
 ~Author Unknown

When our behavior 
tarnishes God's reputation,
His true character is in jeopardy 
of never being seen 
by those around us.

When we call our self a Christian,
we are wearing Christ's name.

As our children, our neighbors and our co-workers
watch us living out our lives,
are they seeing Christ for who He really is?

As we
drive down the street,
shop at the local grocery store,
step into the movie theater,
cheer on our favorite team,
wear our favorite outfit,

are we helping others
to focus in on who God is


does what we do
make is difficult
for others to see God at all?

Are we bringing glory and honor
to His name,
or are we tarnishing His reputation
by our un-Christlike behavior?

What is your life telling others about your God?

What is mine?

Are you and I ruining God's reputation?

Or, are we living in such a way that the beauty of His character is
                         and oh, so very inviting?

Are we living our life for His name's sake?

Let your light so shine before men 
that they may see your moral excellence 
and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds 
and recognize and honor and praise and glorify 
your Father Who is in heaven. 
~Matthew 5:16, The Amplified Bible