New Roots of Deeper Trust

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

I sat and shook my head as God made clear He had a new word for me.  I always felt as though January 1st was a day full of cliches and resolutions never to be fulfilled but on January 1, 2018 God tugged at my heart over and over with Isaiah 43:19.  I felt the whisper on my heart, “NEW! 2018 is not the end of your 2017 run, we are just getting started and you are going to see “new” everywhere!”

We had a new normal as life fell apart and my husband and I learned to be just two again.  Everywhere I looked I saw new, a new friendship, a new calling, a new chapter, a new hope for the future.  I have always assumed new was positive, this year taught me different, new can be amazing as you walk into new friendships or new callings, but sometimes new can be hard and it can hurt.  New involves a beginning and growth usually takes place in the middle.  Growth involves stretching and pain, often challenging us to fall face first into His deep embrace.

I sat on the turf that day in December, an ache radiating through my veins as I tried desperately to find a way to make it through the next couple of hours.  Alone, very alone, and to be honest I wanted to feel that coldness for a moment.  I wanted to know the deep ache and hurt that alone can bring, it almost felt as though I had a friend in those moments of alone-ness, a place to hide before I faced the reality of what this new might bring.

Hours later in the safety of calm, I wept as I came face to face with the feelings the loneliness had masked.  I wept as I tried to make sense of moments and words my heart was having a hard time translating.  I wept as my words tried to explain this new pain it did not understand to ears that would listen.  I felt the loss of control as my tears fell desperate for some hope.  Chaos strangled my heart as she tried to help me fall fast into a relief that only hope spoken could provide.

Four days later:

The room was cold, the assistant sat in the chair that found sanctuary behind a desk that barricaded her from us.  We waited, an uncertainty filled the room, a confusion that seemed to desperately try to convey hope.

That word has a lot of enemies and it was about to provoke an anger and hatred deep in my core.  “….Cancer….” came from the doctor’s mouth.  I had already read her as she had walked into the room knowing full well what she would say but now the air held the heaviness of the uninvited guest that just bombarded my family.

New, another new journey, a new enemy, a new emotion evoked deep in my soul.

God is so funny though I could feel the tender pull of the Holy Spirit.  I felt as though the season with the word new was ending.  This ending was different, I could feel that something new was coming that was deeper than new, the nudge was so tender and sweet but I couldn’t see past this step, I just felt the tender tug.  I felt left in the dark as the Holy Spirit seemed to take my heart and gently prepare it for something new, something big, something I didn’t expect.

Mom started chemo on a Monday.

She sat down in a chair that first night after hours of newness, I could see the weight of the day sitting deep in her eyes as she sat strong and firm trying not to permit the tired ache to overtake.  I felt the burden, I felt the anger well up.  I would do anything to beat this uninvited guest!  The tender peace my heart fought that night throbbed in my veins burying the anger.  The flesh wanted to be angry, but the heart juxtaposed that anger and was full of God’s grace and faith that He already had this.

The whisper becoming stronger… new is just the beginning of something deeper.

January brought with it a new high school soccer season and a stronger tug.

Tournament 1…

We sat in a cold locker room.  The floor was unsympathetic and the air seemed heavy and crowded with doubt.  We began speaking to them on trusting their teammates and being positive on the field.  We talked about what trusting our teammates looked like and asked some hard questions about if they truly trusted each other or not.  We saw the spark that game, the heart began to play to the game.  The weekend was marked with moments of pure tenacity and grit clouded by moments of chaos that seemed to be fueled by an insecurity and loss of confidence.  The tender tug was growing.

“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

We talked about trust, trust and more trust for our girls, our team.  Moments seemed to come that pierced my own awareness that I only had head knowledge of the word and not true heart knowledge.  God gently tugged and asked me to trust Him and the incredible individuals He hand chose to impact my life.  Trust Him that He holds my mom.  Trust Him that the cancer will be eradicated from her body.  Trust Him that He is the one in control and that He will be my strength all ways, He has the victory.  Trust the people He has carefully chosen to place in my life with a new level of vulnerability and love. Trust the day to day that His hand is in even the very small things we might overlook as insignificant.

Trust, what a simple word, such a hard concept, such an important action.  To trust someone is to place a deep faith and hope in them.  It means that you allow them a place, a profound vulnerability, to know you in a new way.  Trust is giving up control and resting in a peace you may have never known before.   To trust someone is learning to be courageous and find a new strength as we wait expectantly for that relationship to grow and stay strong, providing an unconditional love this world rarely holds.

Monday morning a chair waits for her and medicine that will attack the enemy we so desperately long to defeat.  Another round, another moment, where my flesh throbs to protect her and longs to fix this for her.  His hand is wrapped tightly in hers and He will whisper softly to her as the medicine courses through her veins. I watch her trust Him through the hard; His eyes hold a gentleness as He sits beside her through every second of chemo.  Her faith is Daniel sized and her trusts rests solely in Him.

Trust, I thought I understood that word intensely in my chest, I’m learning I have a lot to learn as I allow Him the control, the grip on the moment to moment of everyday life, the hold on my heart as it fights insecurity and loss of control.

Monday came…

As I sat in the chair across from her, the room began to fill with more precious fighters.  The chairs held hearts and dreams hooked to IV drips.  The room held emotions so thick your heart had no choice but to absorb the pain, the hardship, the hurt; but it also held a hope, an overwhelming saturating hope.  The enemy, cancer, doesn’t have a chance as it sits trying to overtake these strong warriors.  I have never been surrounded by such incredible strength as I sat overwhelmed at the fight taking place before my eyes.  As we left the room to fight the fight at home, my heart was bombarded with an incredible trust.  She has a long path ahead of her full of pain, sickness, and change but the hope that radiates off of her weak frail body is entrancing and calls for a trust so pure and so determined my heart can’t help but fall deeper into an unfailing faith.

If we place our trust firmly in Him we will find a peace that passes all understanding.  We will discover a hope we have never introduced our hearts to.  We find a security that only He can provide even in the midst of life’s most difficult and uncertain storms.  To allow Him full control sounds like we are giving up our freedom but that is just a lie the enemy hopes we buy into so we fight Him for control.  Placing our trust deep into Jesus is the most freeing act we can do.  We will find that every moment can be faced head on bravely as we trust the one who knows all things!

I challenge you to look to Him and allow Him to grow your faith deeper in trusting Him with even the smallest moment, the smallest hurdle.  He will place individuals in your world as amazing examples of what true trust can be.  He will scoop you up close and show you a world of hope you may have never even imagined existed.

Blessings,

Ferg

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

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

Whose voice do we look to?

By: Stacy Ferguson

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

Even before our feet hit the floor in the morning there are a million temptations to allow our minds to wander into fear. Once we are out there with our feet on the pavement the rush of fears can become overwhelming and take away what little breath we have left in our lungs. Fear is lurking everywhere.

I sat at home on the couch completely unaware of the weather outside when a loud crack and boom echoed through the walls. All at once the sound of rain bombarded my roof and my first thought went to our miracle pup who has never seen or heard a storm like the one that just rolled in. I knew this could go one of two ways, either he would not be bothered at all by it, fingers crossed, or he would become terrified and we would have an anxious nutty pug pup running around in terror. Wouldn’t you know it there was a third option, Winston looked straight at me to see what I did and I didn’t react to the storm but instead I reacted to him. I talked to Mr. Winston and he turned his head back and forth listening intently to all the words I said and the tone in which they were said. Then he ran to the back door with me. I opened the door to a world of water rushing down in buckets and flooding our parched yard so quickly that the water level was rising quickly up and to our back door. He watched from behind me and I continued to talk to him about how God was watering the yard and how it was safe and the next thing I knew he was curious and stepping out in front of me to see the beauty of God watering His earth. For the next hour he ran from the front door to the back door demanding it be opened so he could see what had happened in the last few moments since we looked. Just when I thought we were done back to the front door to see the water rolling down the road and filling the flower beds and then once more coming and jumping on me to open the back door just to see the wonders that were unfolding from the sky.

God does the same thing with us. Those moments when we are completely oblivious to the outside world when the enemy booms and echoes trying to temp the fear to overtake our hearts and paralyze us, God is there with us waiting for us to look at Him. He waits patiently ready to talk with us and tell us of His mighty power and His mighty strength. He is not even addressing the fear that is booming in our ears but gently taking our hands and reminding us we are in Him and we get to stand in His mighty strength (Ephesians 6:10). He tells us His story, all of who He is, and reminds us He has already won. The victory is His. He, then, generously waits with us at the door He has opened while whispering all He already knows that lies ahead and how He will be with us every step of the way (Deuteronomy 31:8).

I learned something this evening from our miracle baby Winston, he never took his eyes or ears off of me. He put ultimate trust in me regardless of what was happening outside. He took his every que from my reaction and my voice and never once questioned it but instead was filled with excitement for all he was seeing and going through whether it was good or bad. See, if we keep our eyes and ears on God and only listen to His voice all those storms, all those fears, all those temptations to be paralyzed by fear will have no power in our lives. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Let’s look to God and allow Him to drown out the echoes and temptations of fear as we walk with Him through the doors He opens and leads us through.