Surprised up in the Clouds

I had only flown at night once and it had been my very first flight. The memory of that flight is tainted with emotions of fear and uncertainty wrapped tightly in anxiety, so this flight, the one I was fixing to board that would land in the dark, made me a little nervous.

We boarded, walking the narrow aisle, she found us a spot where we placed our luggage in the overhead 18-17; she didn’t have to, but she let me have the window seat and I began my routine:

  • Bible ready to read Joshua 1:9
  • Seat belt firmly tightened
  • IPod set to my take off song
  • Text my mom and Benjamin that I love them
  • A prayer on the tip of my tongue
  • A deep breath ready to face this flight

The plane backs out getting ready for take-off and we taxi to the runway. My thoughts brought to Joshua 1:9 as the plane jumps bounding towards the sky; my heart  skips a beat, or maybe two.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

He always reminds me that He has got this. Whatever “this” is He already has it and no matter what, it is taken care of because He is there with me protecting me, pushing me, loving me, and growing me. As we climbed higher and higher I got a glimpse of a sunset painting the tops of the clouds. I watched in awe as the colors blended flawlessly, one into the other, highlighting the sky with pinks and oranges against the blues and purples. I guarded those precious moments, the few minutes where I saw the Master Creator paint the horizon line with such perfection and splendid beauty. It was breathtaking and my ribs could not keep my heart’s excitement encased. It was a sight I will not soon forget but then God did one better. The sun went down and darkness flooded the night sky, a deep blue velvet cascaded over the earth far below me threatening to overtake but lights began to appear; tiny bright white lights, red tail lights, still silvery street lights, and big gold building lights all lit up the ground far beneath the plane. Two songs playing in my ears as I begged God to make me different, changed, to grow my faith and help me stand up and move out on the water to chase Him. The verses rang deep in my ears striking my heart stirring a gratefulness and enthusiasm my flesh could barely contain.

High above the city immersed in the BIGGNESS of Him, I saw how incredibly small I am, how incredibly small we are. That moment, overwhelming my soul and begging to escape through a wave from my blue eyes, was more than I could truly handle. A God this big, this immense, this colossal LOVES me. He loves a tiny individual, an imperfect individual that walks on a planet full of other tiny individuals and he loves each of us with an unconditional undying love that none of us truly can wrap our minds around. He adores and cherishes each and every one of us! I watched the hundreds of thousands of lights high above the darkness in awe that each one of us has our very own story, has our very own wiring, has our very own unique personality and He did that! He put it all in place with so much planning and affection! Not a single one of us is an accident! He is so BIG, so very very very BIG!

We are never alone, He is right by our side and He is BIG enough to be everything we could possibly want and absolutely everything we need.

That plane ride, the one I was so nervous about, was incredible as I sat high above the ground, deep in the clouds talking to God. Honestly I was sad when the wheels touched down and I was back on this earth, a deep longing ached in my chest begging God for just five more minutes where I could get a glimpse of His bigness.

He has plans for each of us that truly cannot be conceived and He longs to meet you right where you are at and show you just how much He truly loves you! He longs to take you on a ride too amazing for written words; jump on and hang on tight, you might just find that you see God from a new perspective high up in the clouds that brings you to your knees thanking Him for how BIG He is.

Blessings,

Ferg

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

Count Your Blessings

It was the holidays and I was grocery shopping.  In front of me was a freezer filled with turkeys and I couldn’t make up my mind on which one to take home.

“Ma’am,” came the voice behind me.

“What,” I questioned as I turned around to face a young man with his hand extended towards me.  In the palm of his hand was a folded bill.  My brain fast forwarded and I thought he must have picked it up off of the floor behind me.  I was just about to tell him that it wasn’t mine when he said, ” This is for you.”  I paused and looked at his youthful face.  I had never seen him before but the light shining from his eyes told me that he was blessing me with this gift.  I accepted the folded bill and gave him a big hug and told him “Thank you.”

“Merry Christmas,” he said and walked away.

I never saw him again.  I went on with  my shopping and it was several minutes before I unfolded the bill.  It was a hundred dollar bill, enough to pay for our holiday dinner.  Not only was I blessed that day, but my whole family was; and yes the giver, himself:        Proverbs 11:24, “One man gives freely: yet gains even more”       I had to learn to receive as well as to give.  When giving, you are following God’s plan.  When receiving, you have been given a gift from him.

Once, my soul sister gave my husband and I some money saying God had reminded her of the things we had done for her.  But wait a moment; we did those things to help her out because we loved her.  I felt we had not earned it and didn’t know what we were suppose to do with it.  It was then that I learned that you don’t have to earn, but you only have to receive.  God blesses you because he wants too.

Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings and see what God has done. (from the hymn that we grew up with)  Try it.  I look back over the years and I can’t count them all.  There was the time I was riding my bike and changed directions and the car behind me went into the ditch to avoid hitting me.  The time I jumped out of a moving car, flipping me into the air and I landed flat on my back.  The time I had whooping cough, chicken pox, and diphtheria at the same time, getting over it only to settle in my ears and head, spending 7 days in the hospital, getting a shot every 3 hours.  Blessings for my family, through their illnesses, my husband when he was diagnosed with Melanoma stage 4 and how he survived.  Blessings for the struggles, the joys and the rewards throughout the years.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t name them all.

Look back and see the gifts you received from God.  Maybe it was just a smile that brightened your day.  Some of you have suffered more hardships than I can imagine, some of you have received one success after another.  No matter what your circumstances, a blessing from God is a gift of his love for you.  Keep your eye on Him.

Look back also on the times you blessed others and how refreshed you felt.  Sometimes, the voice inside you told you to do something and you thought it was silly or that the other person would think you were crazy.  I just know that if you hesitate to answer the voice you will always wonder.  I’ve learned to obey.  It may be just a small thing, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s what that person needs at that moment.  Searching through some of those times, one of the most precious ones that I remember is the time it was so cold out and my husband and I had stopped to eat breakfast at McDonalds.  While we were there, a homeless woman with long shaggy hair, wearing a knit hat, long overcoat, gloves with some fingers  hanging out, sat down at a table with her back toward us.  She got some hot water in a tin cup and pulled out some crackers from one of her bags.  I went to the counter and paid for a sausage biscuit and hot coffee and asked the clerk to give it to the lady and not to say where it came from.  Well, when asked, the clerk told her where it came from and pointed in our the direction.  It will forever be burned in my memory the picture of the lady in shabby clothing that turned to me and had the face of an angelic host with the sweetest smile.  (That blessing I will have the rest of my life.  I hope to paint it one day.)

Corinthians 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty for Ashes

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”                                                Isaiah 61:1-3    

We live in a fallen world. This isn’t the garden and the hearts of men are not always seeking God’s righteousness. We see storms come and go, some big others smaller and others still seem to overwhelm beyond big and encompass us like a tropical hurricane storm. Maybe you are currently surrounded by the stormy blue skies filled with dusty thunder heads and you can feel the ache in the air as it moves towards you. Maybe you are right in the middle of the chaos surrounded by flashes of lightning and thunder paralyzing every muscle in your body. The ache of the rain and hail pounds on your head as you struggle to move forward in hopes of finding a way out. Or maybe, you are now on the other side of the storm and you see the aftermath that has settled all around you and you cannot even wrap your head around where to begin to pick up the pieces as the mourning and grieving begins to set in.

Trying to find words to express the pain or hurt that life can bestow on you is often overwhelming and more seemingly unsuccessful. Trying to struggle through expressing the grief, depression, and brokenness of loss tends to come up empty-handed. So often I think we put on our strong brave happy face on and walk out into the world wishing for just a moment the brave front could be taken down without fear of rejection or judgement or worse pity.

In Old Testament times mourning was often met with ashes being heaped upon their heads (Ezekiel 27:30 and 2 Samuel 13:19). It was an outward way of showing mourning, they did not have to have on their happy face and pretend things were fine. They embraced grief in an honest gut wrenching way. Here in Isaiah he is talking about all those who are mourning, the ash in their hair will be smoothed away by a Savior and in place He will put beauty on their heads. This word Isaiah uses for beauty can be defined as a head covering much like a tiara or garland. Next, oil was often used in celebrations and festivities, and here the Redeemer will pour joy out over the mourners’ heads all the while replacing the garment made from sackcloth they wore in their mourning with a beautiful garment that expresses praise.

What a beautiful image!

Picture this: you can come to foot of the cross before, during, or after any size storm completely covered in mourning and grief. You can bow down on your knees with tears flowing form your eyes to the King of Kings all while wrapping yourself in sackcloth garments with ashes covering your head and cry out to Him! He will gently bend down and meet you face to face taking your face into His soft hands and smooth away every last speck of ash out of your hair. All while gathering up every last tear you cry and softly placing them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). He will lovingly look into your eyes and place a beautiful crown where the ashes once overtook. He will then rain oil of joy on you as He takes away your mourning and then covers you with the finest garments of praise.  You can look into the light of His face and simply trust Him and bask in His protection and restoration.

Take a minute or two to really get ahold of what Jesus will do. He adores you and patiently waits longing to have relationship with you. Our Creator, the one who knit us together, wants us, the creation, to talk to Him! He wants us to focus on Him! We have access to the King of Kings! Why would you not want to talk to Him, fellowship with Him, Praise Him? No matter what you are going through He can and He will smooth away every ash and He will take away all mourning all while restoring you in garments of praise!

Blessings,

Stacy