Business of Holiness

Replaceable

What a word.  

What an idea.

Our society is in the business of replacement.  You get a new iPhone and a newer more advanced one is in the works of being released. Your boyfriend makes you mad there is a better guy just around the corner.  Your friend is not quite the perfect fit with you, well that girl over there looks like she might be more fun and obviously has it all together. You make a mistake at work and next thing you know you are carrying a box of your personal items down the hallway as someone new is settling in decorating your office.  

What a truth.

Growing up I remember being told, “If you don’t use what God gave you, you will lose it!” and “If you don’t do what God has for you, it’s OK He will have someone who will do what He needs done!”

Fear raged in my bones. Perfection became the goal because I did not want to miss one moment with God and I did not want to fail Him.  I longed to be a player in the game and to never sit on the bench because of a mistake or a choice that was not of Him.

Belmont Baptist University was a moment in my young adult life full of success, pride and ultimate failure.  God gave me everything I ever longed for during that brief moment. I got to work the Christian Country Music awards, I set up and tore down stages, I got to see my Hero on the Ryman Auditorium stage sing, I stood on the Ryman stage and felt history fill my lungs, and I watched a city alive with music and heart give life to dreams that had been dreamt with blood and tears, joy and hope.  Every moment was incredible and then I left my dream. I walked away from the dream of one day being a tour manager. I was homesick and I felt a tug back to art and the one place my soul longed for…HOME. I could not handle the alone-ness of a booming city or the idea that I would trade a husband and family for a life on the road. I searched the Word and I begged God for relief and then I felt Him gently allow me to come home.  Looking back I truly thought I missed it, I thought I allowed my homesick tears to make the ultimate call and I thought I was replaced on a future tour bus and ultimately as a Kingdom worker. I came home and when I did those words echoed in my ears, “God will put someone else in your spot.” “You are not worthy to work for the Kingdom!” “You missed the mark and now you are benched!” “You are replaced!” “Art is your consolation prize.”

Have you ever felt that way?  Benched? Failure? Mediocre?

Have you ever felt like maybe God benched you because you simply did not measure up or you were just not strong enough?  You had to settle for the consulation prize?

Have you ever felt like no matter what you did you simply could not compete on the field God was playing on? You simply fell into the mediocre category?

Jonah was a man who knew God.  He had a relationship with Him and he blatantly chose to run the opposite direction from the place God commanded him to go, the city of Nineveh.  God could have simply called up another prophet. Let’s be honest, it may have been easier on God to do this but God is not in the business of easy, He is in the business of holy and He did not simply call up the next guy in line to do the job of prophesying to Nineveh; instead, He provided a great big fish to swallow Jonah up and get him back on the right track.  Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of that fish and then finds himself thrown up on the shore.  Jonah then walks in obedience to God by going to Nineveh and doing exactly what God asked.

You see, when we are in God’s family, when you belong to Him, He is in the business of holiness and not exchanging us out for another willing individual because that might be easier.  He doesn’t want to leave us mediocre or on the bench.

I always wanted to be a tour manager.  You know traveling down the road late into the night, hanging out on the bus, eating horrible fast food, setting up the stage, staying in hotels watching the TV late into the night, being the encouraging motivating voice before the show, and then hanging out backstage with my heart pounding with pride as the band killed it on stage!  

January 2018 as we barreled down the road headed to a soccer tournament in Paris, Texas God revealed to me the gift He had placed on my life.  I had put Him in a box and He showed me that desire in the true form it was always meant to be. I am a tour manager, I get to step out of a bus after a long drive and walk onto a stage that is a green turf field.  I get the honor of pouring into a group of girls and coach a game that is deep in my . I get to ride a bus late into the night with two dozen tired rock stars and learn the game of coaching from the best of the best.  I get to encourage from the side of the stage as the concert rages, all 80 minutes of it. You see God doesn’t “replace” you! He promotes you and encourages you into His calling of making disciples and loving others. I was never meant to manage a singer or a band on a bus touring the country.  No, I was meant to learn, mentor, encourage, co-manage and assist in coaching a team of girls on the stage of a turf field while God allows me to plant seed after seed into their vulnerable young hearts!

You aren’t replaceable…Let me say that again, “YOU ARE NOT REPLACEABLE!”  God has a plan and a purpose for you and sometimes it takes a big fish and three nights in his belly to get back on track but God won’t give up on you, you are HIS and He is in the business of holiness!

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

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

God of ALL

Early this morning I was spending time with God in prayer. My prayer turned from petition to praise and my head began to fill with things I am so thankful for. Something that I am so grateful for and continually give Him glory is the wildlife around my home. Watching nature always hits my heart with God’s Awww. Seeing creation is a reminder to me of our Lord, our Creator. We live in the country on the edge of a small community. We have three resident turkeys that wander the neighborhood, numerous road runners, sometimes deer, a large variety of birds etc, all created for His glory. Thinking on these blessings a scripture and poem came to mind.

“My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name forever and ever.”
Psalm 145:21

The poem I have always liked I found out today was actually written as a hymn and I have only ever known the first four lines.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

by Cecil F. Alexander

Later that morning, God gave me a blessing, a mother Bobcat and her two kittens showed up and played for a good while in our front yard. God, knowing my heart, gave me the most beautiful gift. Thank you! Thank you!

God loves us, He knows who we are because we are His creation in His image. He is gracious and compassionate. He shows us His love in many ways. God loves us so much that nothing is too big or too small for Him.

Here are the last four lines of the poem All Things Bright and Beautiful.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we may tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

May He surprise you today and bring you joy.
Blessings, Cindy

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