Confidence through His eyes

Sometimes I feel broken, you know that feeling where because your life doesn’t quite look like the picturesque dream the world says it should be so therefore you must not be enough feeling; yeah, that feeling.  That picture is not my life and I feel like my brokenness makes me less than whole.  I worry that we failed  and we are too broken to even be acknowledged, to even be taken seriously, to truly make a difference.  The struggle with imperfection and failing is a constant battle.

But then sometimes God whispers a sweet nudge reminding me that just because my reality is not what the world says is enough, that reality is not His reality and it does not make me less than.  Sometimes God’s plans look very different from we want or expect. His plans may not be what the world says is enough, but they are so very good and when we step into His plans we see how He sees us and the wholeness He provides!

I woke up to the sound of the text dinging my phone, “Who in the world could be texting me as the sun comes up?” I thought to myself.  I ignored the ding for a time, but ultimately my curiosity got the best of me and I rolled over. It was someone who holds my heart in a special way that I can’t find the right words to describe how amazing she is;  she had been talking with God and in the middle of her quiet time He placed me on her heart. The simple fact that on this particular day God tugged at her to reach out showed me how deeply He cares for the small things, how deeply he cares for each of us.

See, I was incredibly nervous, the kind of nervous where your heart seems to jump out of your chest while your lungs hold a breath in the deepest part and your body seems to bounce around uncontrollably while your brain scrambles in hopes of not blowing the entire thing!  Yeah, that is exactly where I was, crawling out of my skin scared. Fear had taken over and I desperately pleaded that I would not disappoint or fail my friend that entrusted October 6th in my hands.  In the grand scheme of things this day was small but I felt the weight of coaching well heavy on my shoulders.  For weeks I had been bending God’s ear about doing this day well; I did not want to fail.  This day felt as though I would find my coaching voice or I was never going to amount to anything as a coach.  It felt as though there was no in between.

Her text demanded a trust that I tell her what was going on and I couldn’t help but oblige.  She knows me well and her heart for God only draws me into a deep trust where I can’t tell her no.  I told her how I was fearful of disappointing my friend along with the failure that could occur on the field.  She gently poured words of wisdom and advice into me all while pointing me back to Jesus.

The funniest thing happened as we talked, I began to visualize Jesus standing with me on the sidelines that my feet would soon fill.  He had on our team shirt along with His face painted to support me. His face held a pure smile that His eyes could barely contain and He had a bright yellow foam finger with my name printed in black written LARGE across it all while His fist pumped through the air, yelling every exciting encouraging word His mouth could contain as He watched me coach from the sidelines.  A crazy picture, I know, but for the first time I saw Jesus as my cheerleader! A huge fan that when His eyes looked at me He saw someone who He absolutely adores. This idea, where the most important man who has EVER walked on this earth, looks at me and all He sees is, someone He truly loves and adores overwhelmed my heart in such a way that I could not hold it in, my eyes filled with blue waves that overflowed running quickly down my cheeks.  Her text, a moment my heart truly needed, opened a door in my heart where for a moment I could see myself through Jesus’ eyes.

It’s hard for me to think I deserve that type of adoration, that type of unconditional insane crazy  love. I typically only see my failings, my flaws, my shortcomings, but for a moment that morning I saw something a little bit different.  I saw a moment where Jesus sees me for who I am in Him and ultimately for who He is making me to be.  I was filled with a deep confidence that no matter if I failed or found my wings I had the best fan and cheerleader standing beside me longing to simply cheer me on and for me to keep my eyes focused on Him!  He was the one I was coaching for and His approval was the only one I wanted or needed.

He stands with each of us, t-shirt on along with a bright foam finger with our name on it, cheering for us!  He is your ABSOLUTE BIGGEST cheerleader and fan! When He looks at you all He sees is this beautiful soul that is made in His image and He LOVES you!  His eyes soften at the simple mention of your name and His heart jumps for joy as He thinks about your sweet face. He can’t help but smile when you focus on Him.  It’s hard to think that someone could love you with a grace that is so deep and true, but He does and He is always in your corner.

I pray you see yourself through His eyes, through His love for you, through the adoration His heart holds for you.  The view is absolutely incredible and if we find ourselves on that mountain top and trust Him for our true identity we might just find Him in a new profound way that will ultimately lead us deeper in relationship with Him!!!!

Imagine seeing yourself through His eyes and how that will change everything you do and say.  Imagine how you will approach things with a new-found unbridled confidence that will give you the courage to dream His dreams and chase His heart!  Imagine only living for Him!  I pray you see Him with His fist pumping through the air cheering you on today!

Blessings,

Stacy

Caught in a Memory

Do you ever get caught in a memory?

Do you ever get caught in a memory?

You’re driving down the road minding your own business as you sing along to your favorite song. The light turns green and as your feet presses on the gas and lets up on the clutch you feel yourself jolt and your breath catch in your chest. A memory streaks across your mind stirring up emotions you thought were buried deep below the waves. Their little faces cause your eyes to fill with tears that overflow and overwhelm your heart. A memory you thought was buried, one you thought you could escape, but the day, the way the sun hit off the clouds and the air filled your lungs with the sweet smells of summers end, all barreled at you and before you realized it you were drowning in a sea of feelings because the memory took you captive.

Moses was an incredible leader and follower of God who never got to walk into The Promised Land. He raised up another leader who would eventually lead the people of Israel across the Jordan and into the land of milk and honey.

All through Exodus we see the nation of Israel on a hard, long, painful journey in hopes of entering a place God promised them. They walked in shoes that became filled with memories of torment, abuse, slavery, and fear. Memories of how God saved them by parting the Red Sea, sending manna and quail, a pillar of cloud leading them by day and a pillar of fire by night. They followed Moses, sometimes grumbling and fighting the journey, as Moses listened and followed God trusting Him for The Promised Land.

In Joshua 1 we see Moses has passed away and God tells Joshua to get up and be ready; that he will be the one who takes the people across the Jordan.

I picture Joshua standing in the night air next to the rushing water as he listens to the calm night sky whisper as the wind rushes through the brush. I can just see his face as he contemplates all God has told him and as he wrestles with this new calling. “Strong and courageous,” two words branded on his heart, on a warriors heart. Joshua is a mighty warrior and does not take those words lightly, they weigh on him. I picture him standing by that river remembering all this nation has been through to get to this moment. His hands lifted in worship as he focuses on his loving Father. This warrior is ready to walk into The Promised Land knowing God is with him.

God calls them to move and the most incredible thing happens! The Jordan, during flood stage, stops! God STOPS the river and the entire nation walks across on DRY ground! This is the second time God has them walk on dry ground where it should be covered with water, once at the beginning of their journey into the desert and here at the end of the journey as they leave the desert. We see in Joshua 4 they make it to the other side and God tells Joshua to choose 1 man from each of the 12 tribes to collect a stone from the middle of the Jordan where the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stood as they crossed. They were to stack the stones in order to be a sign for future generations to see that this, this place, was where Israel crossed the river on dry ground because God STOPPED the river.

A memory, a stamp in time, marked by a memorial to evoke an emotion, to evoke worship. Joshua took remembering serious, he did what God asked. Israel needed reminders of God’s power and His works.

We need to be struck by memories. We need to get lost in the embrace of what God has done and trust that those memories will only strengthen our trust in a deep way so that we can fall further into His chest and trust Him for all the unknowns of the present and the future.

This time of year begins one that is filled with hardness for my little family as those memories surface, sometimes from out of nowhere, but as I lay here listening to the night whisper His unmeasurable glory, I’m reminded to remember and hold those memories dear even when they hurt, even when they bring tears, even when sadness seems to overtake. I’m reminded to worship the Creator for the good and the bad knowing He uses everything for His glory. Those hard roads can lead us into a place that is filled with milk and honey and only makes our stories sweeter! Those memories glorify a good good Father and show His faithfulness and how holy He is. So as the weather teases us with the promises of hoodies, football, and pumpkin spice everything let us fall head first into worship as we remember all He has done for us!

Blessings,

Stacy

Purposeful Wiring

Stepping into your purpose can be terrifying but you might just be surprised that you feel completely at home for the first time in your life. God is an incredible writer and He has a story for your life that is too good to just be written on paper.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

My feet pushed forward as I adjusted the microphone, all while begging my gram to hug me for the amazing introduction she made. This was it, the moment I had been anticipating and avoiding for the past few years.  I had my Moses moment where I argued with God that He had made a mistake. The mistake that there was no way an introvert like me could stand in front of a crowd and mutter two words let alone speak His truth. The mistake that there was no way I was going to be able to put together two thoughts let alone an entire lesson that could glorify Him and serve others.  The mistake that I simply was not good enough or worthy to stand before these amazing women.  This moment, the one I had in my head that could either make it or break it, it was here and NOW was the time I would turn around and look out into the sea of faces, beautiful eager faces, who had come to find out about the Root of Jesus.  I should have been nervous or terrified but peace was deep in my bones as I turned around to face them.

As I looked out over the crowd of faces, focused and intent, I found an even deeper longing to serve and love them with every single thing I had until I had nothing else to give. I wanted to share who God is and how He could change their lives!  I wanted to move them for Him. The thing is that I couldn’t, because I am not qualified to do the job I stood on that stage to do, but I know He is.

As I stood before them and prayed, I knew God was up to something, something absolutely incredible, and I could not contain the words that were in my mouth. The words came out and the lesson that I had argued with God for weeks over, flowed flawlessly and fell upon welcoming ears.  They listened, they actually listened, I had prepared myself for blank stares and hollow ears but they were with me for each and every word.  That night as I stepped off of that platform and took off that microphone I was completely humbled and forever in awe of that life changing moment.

The minute we step into the purpose God has for us something incredible and unexplainable happens. All my life I have felt like I don’t quite fit. An outsider may argue that I fit everywhere, even most of my closest friends might argue that same truth, but the reality is I have longed and struggled to find a place I feel comfortable in my own skin.  I have learned to fit each moment for what it needs and in doing that I have never found one that allowed me to truly fit.  The moment I opened my mouth, saw their shining faces, and spoke, that was the moment I found a comfort I have not ever known. Finding our purpose, finding our place in the body of Christ, brings a new excitement and freshness to our walk.

Maybe you know exactly what I am talking about and you have found the shoes that fit your feet or maybe you are still confused and trying to find your place. Let me encourage you to step out and follow God right where you are at. He has you there for a reason and it might possibly be to prepare and grow you for that moment you step into something new, something designed with your exact wiring in mind. Eleven years ago I saw what He wanted to do with me and the journey to that platform on May 18th was anything but easy. He began preparing and growing me over those eleven long years through some of the hardest moments of my life. All along the way I knew He had a plan and I just needed to step forward and put one foot in front of the other while letting Him be in control. You see our purpose is a promise, even when we are unsure what that purpose is or what it will look like, because God knows and He always follows through on His promises. We need to step out and trust Him as we walk in the present moment and look forward to the future kingdom promotion and kingdom purpose He has set aside for us.

Each talk built upon the last one, much like a singer might build their playlist to build the crowd up for the finale.  Stepping back on that platform for my last talk took some courage. The circumstances were hard and honestly I had no clue how to handle the situation that lay before me, but God did! He took control as I prayed over that room and The Holy Spirit moved.  This time, this moment, was even better than the first. My skin felt completely like home for the first time in my life, there was zero hesitation, zero over thinking, zero regret. I had the time of my life as I talked about one of the greatest friendships that has ever existed and our root of grace. I did not want to step down that afternoon after talking about David, Jonathan, and Mephibosheth. I was finally completely comfortable in my shoes and my skin was at peace.  As I closed us in prayer, I could feel my heart sadden knowing I was going to take the microphone off and I was going to walk away from that platform not knowing when God would allow me the honor of talking about Him like this again. There was also a JOY bursting out from behind my ribs and straight out of my chest as I finally found my place. A joy that brings tears to my eyes and a soft smile to my heart.

No matter what part of your journey you are in God has big plans for you. As part of the body of Christ you have something that you were created for, wired for. God wants to use you to do mighty things for the Kingdom. We just have to trust Him and allow Him the ability to take us where He wants us. We have to follow Him and learn to lean deep into His chest as He grows us and equips us to serve Him fully. It really is all about Jesus and picking up our cross to follow Him. So step out today, trust God for each moment, word, thought, and action and allow Him the honor of complete and total control of your life. You may just find your skin fits you quite perfectly and feels like home!

Blessings,

Stacy

Faith in the Face of the Winds

The physical knocked him into fear because his eyes saw something and his body felt that pressure of the atmosphere and he lost his focus and began to sink. Fear and Faith cannot exist in unison.

 

How we perceive things is often done through the lenses of the world. We look through the lens of experience and often the lens of emotion. We so often forget the heart and even more often forget the reality that God is so BIG and so MIGHTY and beyond our eyes is a world that is more vast than we can even imagine (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Over the last 4 years we have been on a roller coaster ride. We lost our baby before we ever got to hold her, before she ever breathed her first breath, before her eyes ever gazed into mine. That miscarriage was the hardest thing we have ever been through and every year on that day the world keeps turning and we plaster a smile on our faces and face the day knowing that our little one is with Jesus. After that we tried to adopt, you want to go on a wild ride, sign up to adopt through the system. The next 2.5 years was full of heartaches and pain, empty promises and lies, several possible placements, and two little boys that continue to hold our hearts as they tackle life each day without us.
We never got to adopt our legal risk boys that we were told were adoptable and it is a daily reminder that we are not promised tomorrow with our loved ones. June 2016 we closed our home (terminated our license that gave us the ability to foster and adopt) and began the process to heal from the hurt of yet another failed placement and the weeding of the roots of bitterness and anger that longed to take hold of our hearts and minds.
Perception is often limited to a small amount of information.
Our situation and what we have gone through hardened our hearts in one way and softened and refined them in a completely different way. I have a deep empathy and sorrow for the children who are in the system knowing that no matter what, their voices could be drowned out or ignored, that the trauma they have endured at the hands of adults will leave a lasting effect and wound that only God can heal.

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Our prayers changed last December, our hearts were still for adoption, and I asked God to bring the child or children He had for us to adopt to our doorstep. We still did not understand why any of the previous summer had to happen. We just decided to trust God with our future and our comfort and the loss of all our dreams of a family and find contentment in just being a family of 2. The phone rang in June 2017 about a possible private adoption of two wonderful little boys. Luke and I had become comfortable with being just the two of us with our pugs and truly felt contentment in seeking God through the call He placed on us to serve and teach others. We prayed and sought God’s will instead of our own selfish desires or seeking counsel from others. Fast forward to today and here we are walking through each step allowing God the room to do all that He pleases. We are trusting Him to move us forward and praying that our eyes stay focused on Him.

Matthew 17:26-32
26When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Peter cried out to Jesus for Jesus to call him out on the water to Him. Jesus does call Peter and Peter bursts forth over the boat and out onto the water. He doesn’t sink and He is focused on Jesus. Suddenly Peter sees the wind and becomes afraid. Peter had to take his eyes off Jesus in order to SEE the wind. I picture Peter standing firm on the water’s surface with eyes longingly gazing on Jesus until the wind pushes his body and this is the moment his eyes SEE the wind. The physical knocked him into fear because his eyes saw something and his body felt that pressure of the atmosphere and he lost his focus and began to sink. Fear and Faith cannot exist in unison.
The hardest part of this whole thing, in some respect, was choosing to focus on Jesus and the call and not allow the fears of the world to knock us off-balance. We have to trust God and allow His perception and His calling to be the only thoughts and desires that matter to us. We have to care more and worry only about how He sees us and if we are following Him. Others opinions and perceptions over our actions and lives do not matter. Let me say that one more time, “Others opinions over our/your actions and lives do not matter.” This is not a grace abuse free card, this is not an opportunity to push your agenda card or a seek the fleshly desire you think you need card. This is a seek God and His heart with all you’ve got card; if you do that your life, your mind, and your heart will be transformed and the race you are on will look different.
One of the strongest winds that blew us and continues to whirl is our friends and families’ opinions along with the thought that they could get hurt again. It was and is a burden on our hearts; thinking we could be the cause of more pain and wounds to our friends and families can be paralyzing. It was incredibly difficult to think that those who do not know the story or the circumstances that surrounded the closing of our home would view us or judge us with assumptions about our motives and our hearts. There is a deep anxiety that tries to take root that we have to come to our village and ask for support and help.
We do not know what the future holds for our family but we are firm in standing on the waves together with our eyes focused on Jesus because we know He holds our future.
There are so many questions we have been asked through this process. If you know Luke and I we are typically prepared for anything that is thrown at us and we always try to avoid conflict along with flying under the radar. Attention is not something we handle with comfort or ease.

James 1:27 ”Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

My heart tends to take root in the idea that it is NOT okay to ask for help. I should be able to handle anything emotionally, physically, or financially on my own. This thinking is wrong, God created us for relationship. We have a deep yearning for relationship with Him and we are told to love others. Part of loving others is taking part in their burdens…not just the emotional ones, not just the sin ones, not just the joyful ones. Following Jesus sometimes requires asking for help and then allowing the Church to be God’s hands and feet. This process has taught us that God uses all details, small and big, to refine and mold us to look more and more like His if we allow Him.
There is only one who knows our hearts, and I mean truly knows our hearts. He is MIGHTY, He is our PROTECTOR, He is SOVEREIGN, He is the heart we chase and seek! Go out and seek Him knowing that His attention and opinion is the only one that truly matters. Don’t let the winds throw you off-balance and distract you from where you should be looking and who you should be seeking!

Blessings!
Stacy

Fearless Flight

We live in a world of uncertainty. There is always something or someone knocking on our hearts telling us we are not enough, we are alone, we are forgotten. We are constantly sold the lie that we are replaceable and our imperfections could knock us out of God’s plan.

I am deathly afraid of heights; bring you to your knees afraid; your eyes pooling with glassy drops of water spilling over down your cheeks afraid. I struggle to hold back the panic of an outright full blown anxiety attack just thinking about getting on board a plane let alone flying high above the solid ground.

Sometimes God has a sense of humor and He calls us to face our fears because ultimately we need to see Him in a more intimate way. We need to lay ourselves down and allow a deep trust in Him to grow and thrive. A year ago the Holy Spirit showed my heart that She Speaks 2017 had a spot for We Three and that we were to go. In order to go, I had to get onto a plane, not just one plane but two planes just to get there.

That meant that I had to sit and grasp the arms of my plane seat and feel the pain of my body thrust into the sky and the tingle of my skin as we moved faster and faster; I had to feel my heart catch in my chest as we rose higher and higher not just once but twice before walking into the conference. I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to trust Him and to let go of this fear.

Fast forward a year later and here we were crawling on that first plane. God provided three of the kindest individuals who poured into our hearts through eyes of comfort on that first flight. The couple brought such a sense of peace along with them and the third was a passionate stewardess who spoke of angels and the presence of God as we soared through the clouds. The second plane was much easier after that and we cruised into North Carolina. We made it! We made it to She Speaks 2017 and we sat in the spot God had saved for us.

I learned three very important things:

  • Flying is okay! I actually kind of enjoy feeling completely out of control and allowing my trust in God to take over in a new and completely unexpected way. I’m 33 and my God is bigger than any plane on this earth and He is with me and He goes before me!

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

  • Women are absolutely amazing!  I am such an introvert and so different and one on one is hard for me and it can sometimes be paralyzing. At She Speaks something incredible happens when you get 800+ women whose hearts are in desperate crisis of chasing God that it fills the atmosphere with a pure excitement, worship, and love for God that is truly safe and completely contagious. You see His presence and unconditional heart in the face of each woman and you hear His whispers through their stories and encouragement that gives all glory to Him. It was something I have never experienced before and will not soon forget.

 

  • God has a plan for you and He is in control… He is in control… one more time… He is in control. We each have a story and a wiring unique for the story God is writing and using to spread His gospel. He has not forgotten you and you are not replaceable!

Psalm 139:1-18, “You have searched me, Lord,     and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise;     you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;     you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue     you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before,     and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,     too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me    and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;     you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;     your works are wonderful,     I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you     when I was made in the secret place,     when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;     all the days ordained for me were written in your book     before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!     How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them,    they would outnumber the grains of sand—     when I awake, I am still with you.

All of these were mind-blowing and eye-opening and sitting here looking back on the days passed I find myself wanting to encourage women to accept who they are in Him and to see Him in your wiring and His fingerprints on the story He has written that is unique to you.

I’m different and the truth is…

My wiring is okay. My need to see God in an intimate way through creativity and my camera lens is okay.

I had overlooked this photo. I think because God knew that after the amazing spiritual weekend at She Speaks I would be looking out into my great big world and the battle would grow stronger. I have a choice between confusion and fear or hope and trust. I am staring a new journey in the face and it can be overwhelming if I don’t choose to trust and believe God. My speaker wings are brand new much like this little guy and they need to be tested and tried without fear of the future.  My wings need to fly with the hope and truth of God all around them.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Sitting in the trees that day watching this duckling look out into the great big world he was learning to navigate, I could see God everywhere. I could feel His heartbeat through the eyes of the camera lens. I always feel safe as I stand behind the camera because I see Him. I see His fingerprints. I long to capture a brief moment in time where His beauty and His glory shines. This duckling in his moment of stillness, I can’t help but think, he chose to trust and hope in the wings God gave Him as he learned to spread them wide and allow the goodness of our Father to surround and breathe new life into him.

The story He has written in your life is amazing! Every hurt and joy, pain and grace, every mountain and every valley all of them are unique to you and He will use it! I want to encourage you to raise your wings and fly into your wiring and trust that God did not make a mistake and then chase after Him listening for His voice and His prompting as you seek to further and glorify His Kingdom.

You are not an accident and you are not replaceable and your wings, new or old, still have a lot of flying left to do!

Spread your wings and let God breathe new life into them as you learn to fly!

Blessings,

Stacy