Piece by piece

I sat down at a table with two of my favorite people, both of which seemed to genuinely want to joy in the process of putting together a puzzle. I really could not wrap my brain around a puzzle being quote unquote “FUN”. I finally understood why when I say, “Let’s go for a RUN! It will be so much fun!” Bernie gives me such a grave look of disapproval followed by a big, “NO!!!!!”

This puzzle came in a zip lock baggie with no picture or indication of how many pieces it contained; this puzzle looked to be older than the millennials and they were enthusiastic to take the puzzle on. They both were patient in separating the pieces, pulling the edges aside and finding their connecting pieces. They made piles of like pieces and then began to twist and turn each piece to see if they could find its connection to the bigger picture.

I sat and tried to muster the joy up to participate but all I saw was pure unharnessed chaos. There were no rules except that each piece had its own place, and the more you tried to make them fit the more they rebelled and did not join the one you held. The more I watched, the more I saw this incredible metaphor for life and I learned some amazing lessons that night sitting watching them put together a puzzle with no direction.

I love competition and as we sat placing pieces into piles we began to each have our own calling that sprung from our lips with each victory that pursued from the connection of two pieces. “WHEEEEE” I yelped as I got one to connect to another. “Whoop” she sang as they clicked into the picture, another “Whoop” as she found another and yet another “Whoop” as the pieces seemed to easily find their place. Bernie’s ability to piece together the pieces with their rightful place was really irritating but also intriguing. I watched as her and my mom took each piece and looked for its rightful place. I questioned them, “What happens when you guys spend all this time, hours, only to finish with one or two pieces missing?” They both laughed at me, “You don’t focus on that one missing piece.”

“Whoop whoop,” rang from my mom’s lips, a long pause, “Whoop!” came from Bernie’s tongue. I watched, “This puzzle is a lot like how I feel about life!” They both laughed at me. The more I watched the more I came to understand the proverb that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Along with the proverb that says, “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

The more I watched, the more the puzzle felt like life, we try and try to force pieces to fit. We cram our way through doors that really are not open or find a window we can jump through only to find it is a piece of our puzzle we twisted and turned only to realize that it really did not match the picture we are trying to paint.  I watched as they found pieces that clicked into place and as they found their match words of praise flowed from their mouths, “Whoop whoop!” “Weeee!” and “Whoop!” How amazing those words could ring from the lips of the flesh and how much more do they ring as we step into the places where our pieces click and our Father in Heaven yells words of joy as we fit into the places He has created specifically for us! “WHOOP WHOOP!” He sings as we step into His purpose and His calling. “Weeeee!” as we love on those that desperately long to see His face. “Whoop!” as we simply fall to our knees and pour praise from out of our hearts and into His ears.

That night I had to drag my mom to bed, “Mom, let’s go to bed,” I paused, “I don’t think a puzzle, just like life, was meant to be figured out in one night!” I laughed as I finished the thought. The truth is though, that God doesn’t give us the whole picture; that would be too easy; no He give us breath and then allows us the grace to begin to put the pieces together as He leads us. It takes more than one night, it takes more than two nights, and no matter how much my future oriented heart longs to know 10 or 20 years into the future He simply reaches out His hand and asks me to trust Him to click the pieces into place. As He connects us to the next piece we will hear a “Whoop and Wee” that will create excitement to keep trusting Him for the entire puzzle.

We finished that puzzle and wouldn’t you know there was a piece missing and I was the only one who seemed to have a problem with the fact that puzzle was lacking.  In life we need to surround ourselves with individuals that see us for the whole picture and don’t need our lives or our puzzle to be perfect. All those that worked on that puzzle all week only saw the complete picture, that puzzle wasn’t lacking, there is beauty in the imperfect.  Imperfection only allows room for God’s glory to show even more! Let Him have control of your entire picture and focus on stepping into the piece you are on.  Don’t force it to fit, let Him turn the pieces. He will piece it together into the bigger picture and one day you will see how all those little pieces were masterfully created and painted by the Master Artist Himself!

Blessings for an incredible God filled Week!

Stacy

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

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

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

Mountain Pauses

“I lift my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

 

We headed for a weekend filled with soccer and relaxing in the big city when suddenly plans changed. As we turned the car back towards home we found ourselves facing a completely different weekend;  I could feel God whisper, “pause” deep into my heart. I sat still not sure what He meant but whole heartily refusing to think about the weekend that could mean disappointment, a weekend that might not allow me to recharge or be an introvert, until a few minutes later when she half-jokingly says, “Part of me could just keep driving on into Red River.”

And PLAY

Sometimes I am not the best influence, or maybe I am, “Really? I know someone who has said I can use their cabin.”

Our minds playing with the idea of doing something so out of character, so adventurous, so brave.

To live in the moment, to stop the ache of future planning and the sting of the past hurts for a moment, a brief moment, to jump in without a plan and dare to simply follow God as He hits play;  there is the temptation of a possible freedom that my heart has never known. I trust her, so I jump in and dare to live outside my introverted, safe, strategic box.

PLAY…all the way to the mountains.

The air stung our lungs with the best kind of hurt. Our eyes surveyed the beauty as the racing river swept down the bank. The running water sweeping over the rocks. My mind connects to a memory, a moment frozen in time as our two boys held me close while at the same time trying to push me away as they courageously stood in the running water all those years ago. I could see his wet faded jeans and white sunglasses propped atop his head as his smile danced from the coldness of the river. His brother, a little more cautious, watching me and following my cue as I found solid footing in the river. A picture, a sweet work of art, rushed through my mind as we stood on the bridge watching the river rush by.

She indulged me as we walked the trail coming to a clearing that promised snow just yards away. Yards that just happened to be at a rough incline. She humored me as we climbed higher and higher daring our lungs to hunger for more oxygen. God’s fingerprints stained the mountain side with deep greens and pale yellows. My eyes, in desperation, could not take in enough of the view.

A lively declaration sternly pointed straight at me as she gasp for air. Immediately, healing filled my lungs as an enduring laugh escaped my lips. The words she said flooded my ears as my feet gripped the side of the mountain and my eyes couldn’t help but laugh along with my lips. It took me a few minutes to control the fun that escaped my serious side. Suddenly, I was at ease and immersed in the moment full of memories and somehow a promise of a future hope as God intertwined the present with the past.

We wandered down that trail as the sunlight danced through the aspens. Our feet sloshed through mud and strolled across the man-made snow that had escaped the heat that promised the end of a season.

My mind falling deep into another memory; one I had never spoken; one I held close, protecting it as though it were fragile. Somehow my heart dared to express the sweetness and sorrow that wrapped up a moment that feels like yesterday. She listened as my heart seemed to grasp a moment of clarity, a moment of healing. She simply listened and let my eyes flood with emotion. That mountainside offered more than was expected that morning.

PAUSE

Breathe in healing, laugh out joy, speak the truth and treasure the memories. The mountains have always seemed to be the place I run to see Him a little more clearly. A moment of peace as only His artistry could showcase. A moment painted with His paintbrush providing a new set of memories showcasing His incredible glory.

PLAY

Driving down an old dirt road squeezing time for every second it’s worth, begging the road to last just a mile longer, pleading with the mountain air to blow through the windows just a little bit more, and singing that song one more time in hopes that it won’t end.

Running away for an instant in time where you find yourself truly living in that moment begging the future to fade away.

Living in a moment, truly living in a moment with no agenda. She taught me that this weekend. To be spontaneous and dare to live in spite of the pain, longing for the healing, and daring to temp peace and joy to overtake and soothe the soul.

When we lift our eyes up to the mountain, when we seek His face with all our might, when we long to be in His presence worshipping Him, adoring Him we will find that He is our help and He is our refuge.

God has a plan, a good good plan! We have to trust Him for those times He tells us to PAUSE and follow Him when He says PLAY. We have to allow Him the freedom to grow us and love us and sometimes that means we have to take a chance. Sometimes that means we have to trust Him as He moves us to spontaneity. Sometimes He gives you an amazing gift by giving you a friend that reminds you to not be so serious, encourages you to step out of your box, and allows you the freedom to be who He made you to be.

So lift your eyes up to the mountains. He is there and He is so very good. He is our rock and our salvation. He will cover us with His feathers. He will fill us with peace and provide healing. He will provide you with moments to see Him more clearly and to simply relax and joy in Him. Listen and breathe in the PAUSE because the moment He hits PLAY you will be blown away!

Blessings,

Ferg

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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