Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brokenness





"When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well." Mark 5:27-28

At the end of May, our church held its annual Women's Retreat. The retreat's theme this year was "Conformity To Christ." I was asked to speak this year and my topic was "Conformity through Suffering."

Suffering

Just the mention of the word is painful. To suffer means to "submit to or be forced to endure; bear as a victim or patient, to undergo pain of body or mind.

It would be the first time I would speak about the 13 months of "suffering" I endured during Joshua's life, diagnosis and death. It would be for many, the first time they heard about the point God had brought me to, behind the closed doors of my bedroom immediately following Joshua's diagnosis.....seeking shelter under my covers from the pain of the suffering. The darkness that threatened to overcome me over and over again. The first time they would see the nakedness of a girl who had been living life according to her plans and purposes. And the way God intervened and interrupted in a huge and powerful way. The brokenness- real and uncovered, laying open for all to lay eyes on.

I was willing to be naked before these women and share all this and more because in the end...the victory was Christ Jesus's. The glory was His. He made me whole. He made Josh whole.

In those days immediately following Joshua's diagnosis, behind the closed door, hidden away in my bedroom, weeping and numb under the covers....laid a girl carrying a child....and me and Josh...we were both God's children....He loves us the same.. and me and Josh....were both broken. Josh was physically broken and I was spiritually.

Brokenness

We are all broken, aren't we? Some of our brokenness is out in the wide open for all to see....and some of our brokenness is wrapped up inside the heart.....hidden from other's view. In our brokenness we suffer.

We all suffer in this life. The suffering has a name for each of us, sometimes two names...sometimes even more...it is death, divorce, abandonment, loss of a job, financial hardship, depression, disease, disability, abuse, an unintimate marriage, a prodigal child....the list is long.

This women....she suffered. She was afflicted. She had a disease that caused her to bleed persistently for 12 years. I don't know about you....but I love it when I am nursing and there isn't any bleeding for a year! Can you imagine 12 years of persistent bleeding? According to Levitical Law...she was unclean. No one could touch her and she couldn't touch anyone....or they too would be unclean. (Leviticus 15). She was ostracized from society. A cast away....left to herself and her affliction. To suffer in silence. Alone.

She was broke...penniless.... as she had given doctor upon doctor all her money, hoping that each time....maybe this one would have a cure. Maybe this doctor would have the answer. But each time...with each doctor....her condition worsened.

This woman had heard about Jesus. She had heard of the miracles He had performed. She had heard of His teaching in the Synagogues. She had hope in Him.

And on that day, people were gathering in the streets. Many people. Crowds of people eager to hear and see Jesus. To get a glimpse of Him. He had just come from Decapolis and had was heading to Nazareth with His disciples. As he came off the boat he was travelling in, Jairus, fell at Jesus's feet and pleaded with Jesus to heal his daughter. She was near death and he knew that if Jesus touched her, she would be healed and live.

People overheard Jairus's plea for healing. They pushed in toward Jesus and Jairus. They wanted to see Him heal this little girl. They wanted to see with their eyes and then they would believe. All the while, this woman....is standing in shame and embarrassment in the shadows. She knew that the power this man had....would heal her too. She knew it in her heart. She believed it....if only she could touch Him.....one touch was all she needed....and she would be made whole...she would be healed.

Despite the shame, despite the fear, despite the insecurity,.....she pushed in. She knew Jesus was the answer. She couldn't cover the shame. She couldn't cover the fear, she couldn't cover the embarrassment.....the doctor's couldn't find the answer.....only Jesus could give the cure that would last. Only Jesus could wipe away the shame, erase the fear forever. Only Jesus.

And in that moment....she reached out her hand.....and touched the hem of Jesus's robe.

In that instant.....her bleeding stopped.....a wave of peace and security and well being flooded over her. She experienced the power of Jesus Christ.

And Jesus stopped. He looked around for He knew that someone had released His power. This woman's touch was different that the rest. He was surrounded by people touching Him, grabbing at Him, pulling Him.....but this woman....she was different. She knew Jesus. She didn't deny His power. She had faith in HIM.

Jesus asked for this woman to come forward.....identify yourself. He wanted this woman to know that it was His divine will that healed her. His plan carried out through His power.

The fear...it began to creep back in......"what will happen to me?" "I am unclean. I shouldn't have been here.....I touched this man......." but her faith in Him prevailed. She knew with every ounce of her being that this man was different.....and she fell before HIM and confessed. "It is I....I touched you."

And He said to her, "Daughter, you faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over." Mark 5:34

Your suffering is over. Go in peace. You are my daughter. I am your Daddy. I love you.

Jesus can say that to all of us....today. It is available. He is waiting to take you into the folds of His mighty and powerful arms. He wants to stop the suffering. He desires for us to be made whole. It is only through HIM. It is only by His power.

And not only was this woman healed physically.....she was healed spiritually. She believed by faith in Jesus Christ.

Why did she have to suffer for 12 years? I don't know. Maybe because during those 12 years, Jesus was opening her eyes and bringing her to the place of accepting that He is the only way. Maybe in those 12 years, He was teaching her. He was preparing her. Those 12 years were painful. They were lonely. But it was that pain that brought forth life.....a whole beautiful and peaceful life.

Will she suffer again? I'm sure of it. I know I have suffered again and again.....but what I also know is that when my eyes opened to the healing that Jesus Christ offers.....that when I finally surrendered to His plan and His way......then I am always whole in HIM even during the suffering. He receives the praise and the honor. In the end....He receives all the glory.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Praying we are all made whole....and that our suffering is for Him....In Christ's love-Stacy

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our First Day

And we are off.....another school year has begun today at the Davis household.


I am always in awe of God and how He meets us right in the midst of our own fragile mindsets and inadequacies. You see, I never thought I fit the homeschooling mold and I surely never thought I would be a homeschooling mom for 6 years. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, Ben, my best friend, at that time, was pregnant too. She always talked about how she couldn't wait to homeschool this unborn child she was carrying. I looked at her like she was some crazy, hormonal pregnant woman who really was out of her mind. I told her I would NEVER homeschool my children.

And all the typical stereotypes about homeschooling....the criticisms out there...the fears and inadequacies within....well, those were my thoughts.

God certainly has a sense of humor, as my children have never been in a "public or private" school setting. It took about 3 years of mothering this little babe God had loaned me...until He began gently speaking His will into my life regarding my children's education, His calling for me and the work that needed to be done in my heart.

I'll give you the cliff notes version.

Ben was two and Seth was due in January of 1999. All my mommy friends were enrolling their wee little ones in preschool for the following year. I didn't think much about it....but thought this is what I was suppose to do....so followed suit. I toured two local preschools that all my friends raved about....and then in early January had my husband wake up super early in the morning to get himself over to the preschool to stand in the registration lines....as spots filled up quickly. I was 9 months pregnant....and my dear, sweet husband always helps to lighten my load. Ben got the desired spot in the 3 year old spot for the following year.

A few days later, Seth joins our family. I am one overwhelmed mommy. Caring for a 2 year old boy, nursing the baby what seemed like around the clock, getting little sleep....and just trying to make my way down this path of parenting....was enough for this girl at that moment. At this point in my life....God was really along for the ride....or so I thought. This girl was driving, but doing a miserable job. Parenting didn't come naturally to me. It was hard!

Well, September quickly approached and the thought of having to get up and out the door each morning with two children in tow, the nursing disruption, the race against the clock......just the thought started to bring me to the edge of reason. I know so many mommies do this each and everyday ( I am in awe of you!)...and I am even a morning person....pretty organized....but it just wasn't in me. So, the highly desired preschool spot was released, deposit forfeited and I decided it was better for this mommy, 3 year old boy and 8 month old to stay put. As I look back...and hindsight is always 20/20....I see how God worked to make me "Be Still" as I had so much I needed to learn in the area of parenting these little gifts from God. I was entering my own teaching time.

Well, during the following year, I began doing little activities with Ben....nothing major....games with the letters of the alphabet.....counting.....etc...and it was pretty fun. Ben loved it and I loved the time spent one on one with him. During that time, God put a woman in my path who totally discipled me regarding training our children for God....and pointing me to Jesus as the author of order and His instructions and guidance on loving and disciplining His children. I dove headfirst into learning all that I could about God's plan and design for parents. Little by little, as I looked to Him, order came back to the home....(funny how that works!!!)

It was during this time that He started calling me to homeschool Ben. We had spent 2 years "playing" school at home and Kindergarten was quickly approaching. God had put such a desire in my heart to be with my children full time. And as I thought about all that Ben had been taught already.....I thought he would be bored in Kindergarten.....I can't explain how God did it....and those of you who have been called to homeschool know what I mean...but I just knew that this is what I was suppose to do. But, boy was I scared. The flesh screamed "fear and trembling" but the Spirit gently said...."You can do it through me."

And here I sit 6 years later, as Ben is entering 6th grade, Seth 4th and Luke 2nd. I don't have an education background. I don't have the gift to teach children. I wasn't given a high level of patience. I am prone to outbursts of wrath....and losing self control.....and it has only been by God's grace and me drawing closer to Him that I have gained patience, I have gained self control, I have gained gentleness. I give Him all the credit because it is no way, no how from me.

This morning in my quiet time, before the craziness of the day began, I sat with Jesus and asked Him to fill me this morning as we were beginning the new year.

I love the start of school and getting back to routine. I love the newness of the curriculum and the anticipation at what God is going to do in the hearts of me and my children the coming year.....but ohhhhhh, my days are crazy. I go from 6th grade math questions, to 4th grade science experiments, to 2nd grade grammar and listening to Luke read (on that note.....nothing like teaching your child to read....and see them get it!!....and then read independently.....ahh the sweet blessings along the way), I go from the washing machine, to diaper parties with Faith, to unloading the dishwasher and finding activities for Jed...to putting out sibling disputes and disciplining in the mix. You mommies know the multi-tasking we all do throughout the day. It is exhausting even listing it all.

But the joy. There is no greater joy. I love having my children with me all day. I love having the opportunity to teach them and instruct them not only in math, and science and language arts...but that which is eternal.....Godly wisdom and understanding. I love watching the boys all care for each other and the relationships that have been built over the years. The bond that God has tied within each of their hearts.

This morning, this is the verse God gave me.

"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." 1 Timothy 1:12

It is only through Christ and His enabling that I can homeschool. It is really only through Him that I can do anything. My sufficiency comes from Him. My strength comes from Him. My patience, my gentleness, my self-control......it all comes from HIM. And as He calls me to travel different paths, roads that I swore I would never travel.....He enables and equips me for what lies ahead.....and then brings the joy through my submission to His plans.

I ended this morning on Psalm 25 as I try to read a Psalm each day for the date on the calendar.

"Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

This morning as I gathered the boys together (Faith was watching Barney) to have them each pray over the day and the year before us.....I prayed that God would show each of His boys a glimpse of His desires for their lives....that they would be in tune to His voice and would stand against all the peer pressures pulling them away from God. As I watch my children grow and change.....I marvel at the work God is doing...constantly and I stand alongside them growing and changing with them.

I am excited about the year ahead. There is a lot of newness for us all.

A new Math Program for Ben....Teaching Textbooks

A new History Program for us all.....The Mystery of History

A new writing program....our first on DVD....The Institute for the Excellence in Writing

Starting our first language.....Christiana Latin

And whereas some days, it does seem overwhelming.....God works it all out and continues to confirm in my heart and my husband's that for now....this season....we are to homeschool the children. He has dispelled the fears and the myths in my eyes...no my children are not social misfits...quite the contrary they can actually have an intelligent, respectful conversation with an adult and then also hang with their friends. They are like most boys....wanting to get their schoolwork done as quickly as possible because sitting still is quite gruesome....and when the work is done...some days around 1:30ish and other days, God help me on these days! around 5:00....they are out the door to play.....and just be boys!

I know homeschooling isn't for everyone......and I really believe that God has to call you and tell you when and if you are to homeschool your children. He will equip as He calls for different ministries. I am so thankful that I can stay home with my children and be a part of their education. I don't take it lightly. It's another area where God told me years ago....to step out of the boat...don't look around....just keep your eyes fixed on Me and I'll guide each step. When I took that first step, I never dreamed He would take me this far or do the work in me that He has done.

Thank you, Lord Jesus...for counting this insufficient and selfish girl "faithful."

Here are our first day pictures.

Ben at his desk in his room




Seth at his desk

Luke at the kitchen island doing math

May God richly bless the school years for each of our children- Yours and mine- Love, Stacy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

WFW-A Friend






On Monday nights, we host a home fellowship Bible Study in our home. My husband teaches verse by verse through the Bible. For the last year, we have been chronologically studying through Paul's journey as he taught about Jesus Christ to the nations outside Israel. I love sitting under my husband's teaching and hearing the heart of God poured out through him, as God gives him wisdom and understanding.

This week we studied about how the "wisdom of God" is a mystery to many. That the hidden mystery, which God had planned and foreknew at the foundation of the world, is hidden from many, even the rulers of the age, or those who were scholars, Roman and Jewish leaders at the time. But that this hidden wisdom or instruction is available to all and is revealed through the Holy Spirit. We spent a lot of time on verse 7.

"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew;" 1 Cor. 2:7

"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit." v. 10 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." v. 16

All of us probably, know of religion. We have religion and religious systems. There are many of them in our world today. But what really gets me time and time again, is that God does not desire us to follow a religious system. He desires us to follow Him.

He desires a friendship with us.

He desires a relationship with us.

He desires intimacy with us.

We can have the mind of Christ. We can talk to Jesus. We can hear from Jesus and talk with Him. This is all possible. I have felt it. I have experienced it. It is real. ...but not until we believe on and in Jesus Christ through faith.

Until we take this step....."the wisdom of God" is a mystery. When Jesus Christ died on that cross and took all of my sins and your sins upon his shoulders, and shed His blood to cover our sins...and then was raised from the dead three days later......and is alive today.... when He did that....He did it so that you and I could be in a relationship with HIM. He takes the veil off of our eyes on that day we believe and accept HIM through faith. What a day that is!

My husband ended his teaching with John 15:15

"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you FRIENDS, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."

Think about every friendship you have. They all begin with an introduction. There was a day when you were introduced to your friend and before that day, you didn't really know each other.

You met.

You talked. You enjoyed each other's company. You liked what that person had to say. You liked how they thought about life. They made you laugh. You wanted to get to know them better.

A friendship was developing.

You wanted to know what they liked. What they didn't like. What made them laugh. What made them cry. You wanted to know where they came from and where they thought they were going. You longed to know all about their past. Their triumphs along the way, their pain, their struggles, their joy. You wanted to meet their children and their family. You wanted to be with them more and more.

So, you spent time together.

You called each other on the phone. You met for coffee. You went to lunch. You went to the park with your children and sat together and played together. You emailed each other and planned time together. You met their husband. They became a part of your life. The more time you spent together, the better friends you became.

And time went on...you really began to know each other. You can recognize your friend's voice. You trust each other. You experience life together. There is a relationship. And the more time you spend together...the deeper and more intimate the friendship becomes.

That is what our Father desires with each one of us. He wants me to Know him. He wants me to spend time with Him. He wants me to know His past and to see where He wants to take me in the future. He wants to tell me His plans for my life. He wants to speak to me and as I spend time with HIM....I know His voice when He speaks. He wants to be my friend. He wants to be the first person I run to for comfort and the first person I share my joy with. He wants all of me.

He doesn't call me servant......because I know what my master is doing.....He calls me FRIEND. And through the Holy Spirit...He talks to me and reveals to me everything that comes from my Father.

The picture above is of my daughter, Faith, and her sweet friend, Tabitha at Hershey Park yesterday. We went to Hershey Park, in Hershey, PA, with a family from church who are great friends of ours. We had so much fun! They are a large family (expecting their 9th any day now!) Our children are all great friends with their children as their children are all around the same ages as our children....they only started a couple years before we did...and have kept going! :) Their children are like family to us. I think these two wee ones.....have a beautiful friendship in the making.....and I pray it blossoms into something beautiful.

I hope you have a wonderful day-In Christ's love and amazing grace-Stacy

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Raw Emotion

So, why is it, when we are standing on level ground......when we feel held in God's embrace....that Satan wants to get in there and steal....he wants to steal the peace, steal the moment, steal the joy....all that is good he desires to take...and he works in such conniving ways. He gets into the emotion. He tries to make a mess of the order that God has established. Ohh...he frustrates me so much I sometimes really just want to scream. And I long for the day when he will be bound and God will reign completely, without the warfare ensuing.

And yet, I know the answer to the questions above. I know...."the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8 Even that very picture gives me the creeps. If he is walking...he is constantly moving...without stopping....like an animal hunting for its prey. He is always hungry for more...he isn't satisfied. He wants to consume and destroy. I looked up all the names that Satan is given in the Bible......here is just a sampling of this beast:

Accuser of the brethren - Revelation 12:10
Angel of the bottomless pit - Revelation 9:11
Antichrist - 1John 4:3
Devil - Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:2,6; Revelation 20:2
Dragon - Revelation 12:7
Enemy - Matthew 13:39
Evil spirit - 1Samuel 16:14
Father (father) of all liars - John 8:44
Man of sin - 2Thessalonians 2:3
Murderer - John 8:44
Power of darkness - Colossians 1:13
Serpent - Genesis 3:4, 14; 2Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 20:2
Tempter - Matthew 4:3; 1Thessalonians 3:5
Thief - John 10:10
Wicked one - Matthew 13:19, 38

I don't even like giving him one second of my words here...but I believe that spiritual warfare is REAL and should be brought to the light. I believe that this horrible "fallen angel" works overtime to cause God's children to fall away, to distrust their Father, the Great I AM. I believe Satan will do whatever it takes to rock us from the truth of God's Word and get us caught up in circumstance, situation and emotion. Sometimes it is in our face....and other times, I believe he is subtle.

So, where is this coming from?? Well, yesterday, I had a horrible day. I was a mess emotionally. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. On Josh's birthday, I was peaceful. I was resting in God's providence for our family and my son. Six years after his life and death, I am walking more intimately with my Savior than ever before. I know my love, my surrendering, my heart would not be in tune to God and His goodness without Joshua. I praise God for that. I was praising Him on Thursday.

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character; hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5

I have hope. I hold so tightly to the hope I have in God. Satan can't take that from me. I own it.

But Satan wanted to take God's peace from me. And he moved into the emotion of Josh's rememberence and why others don't remember like I do. My eyes went inward and outward to those around me.

On Friday, my husband was out of town. My husband travels with his job. He has travelled for years. And because he works in the medical field with surgeons, a lot of his travelling happens over the weekends. Ohh, this has been a journey in and of itself for me to accept and submit to. (I'll save that for later...) Anyway, I don't like to be alone. Being alone scares me. And I'm not talking only about the physical alone, but the spiritual, the emotional. More the feeling of no one around. God has been teaching me that I am never alone with HIM. I know that, in my head,...but I don't think I fully own that one yet in my heart.

Barclay had to leave early Thursday morning for a meeting and then came home late afternoon to quickly pack and was back out the door for a dinner meeting and then on to NYC through tonight (Saturday).

I was alone. (Not really.....I have 5 kids around me....always....never alone.) But I felt alone.

Barclay is my covering, under Christ. When he is gone, I feel exposed. I am more vulnerable.

So, he was away. Thursday came and went and whereas this year, more emotion surfaced than last year. I stood strong in God. He comforted me throughout the day. He brought my friend, Beth, over to be with me. He is so good. I went to bed Thursday night peacefully.

Friday, I woke up early. I had to get out the door to a chiropractor appointment. I was super tired because I was up really, really late Thursday night. My head was kind of in a fog. I was unsettled. On my way home from my appointment, my younger sister called on my cell phone. She had forgotten Josh's birthday yesterday (as had every family member). By this time, I was pulling in the driveway and walking in the house.

What ensued wasn't too pretty. My emotions came spilling out like Niagara Falls. Let's just say it ended with me basically hanging up on her, hysterically crying (and a little bit of yelling)....and flailing (yes, like a little child) myself on my bed letting the tears and the emotion pour out. You know, the kind of crying where your breathing is like wails and your breath is sucked back inside you.

I had been so injured on Thursday by the lack of sympathy and support from my family. But, on Thursday, I dealt with it. It was ok...because my mind was on what God had done in those past 6 years. My mind was on Joshy. I was peaceful and the emotion I felt on Thursday was centered on my own pain of being a mommy without her child. I rewalked the days of his birth and life. I was sad, but rejoicing in where God had brought us all these past 6 years.

But on Friday.....I allowed my emotions to overtake me. I was weak in myself and when Satan tried to steal the joy and peace that I had from God.....I let him. I felt powerless.

So here I was laying face down on my bed....crying. Crying for my son and the days that weren't. Crying because I wanted him to be remembered. I wanted him to still be alive in the hearts of my family and friends. Crying because I wanted people to reach out to me and not let me be alone.

And then, Faith, my precious 2 year old, gingerly walks into my bedroom and says,

"Mommy....you OK?" (now mind you, she is our only girl and my boys never spoke like this at the age of 2, so this is quite new to me. They were still speaking with grunts, and maybe one word..nor would they have even stepped foot into my room in the midst of this display of emotion. )

"Yes, Faithy girl, mommy is ok. Come lay with me and cuddle."

Faith climbed on the bed and nestled in. "Mommy, you crying? You ok? Stop crying?"

At this point, I had calmed down to just the occasional sucking in of my breath. "Yes, mommy is ok." And we laid there for a couple minutes hugging each other.

I needed that.

I also knew I needed to address what I was feeling. What was the root of this emotion? And why was it coming to the surface right now? And I needed to call my sister back.....(she, of course, had called me back in the midst of my outburst, but I didn't answer the phone.)

Here is the root of the emotion that I was feeling. Every year, on Josh's birthday and his homecoming day.....no one calls me: not my mom, not my dad, not my in-laws, not my other siblings. No one, consistently calls me, except for Beth. My younger sister, has called before, but not consistently.

I struggle with this every year. It hurts so badly. I don't even know if this all makes sense...but that is how I feel.

It makes me feel unloved. It makes me feel angry, crushed....almost like he wasn't even here and his life didn't matter. It makes me feel like no one cares. It makes me feel alone.

This is where I think Satan is sneaky. He gets into our emotions and thoughts and twists them. These are the lies that Satan was feeding me. Because they are lies. Satan is the father of lies. But, in that moment, I was believing each and everyone of them and my poor sister was the receiver.

She wanted me to dig into these emotions. But I didn't need to dig in to the emotion, because I knew where they were coming from. When she called, and apologized, my response was, "it is ok, Tasha." She said, "Clearly, it isn't ok." I was trying to give her grace for not remembering. I was trying to forgive her. But in my heart, it wasn't ok. I was upset and her apology was bringing it all to the surface.

She had called me on Josh's birthday, but she is dealing with her own mountain at the moment. And when she called, I was in the midst of going through Josh's box. She had come from the doctors and was relaying the appointment. That moment was about her. It wasn't about me. I wanted to give her my full attention. I didn't mention Josh and neither did she. We got off the phone and I went back to Josh and the memories. I was sad she didn't say anything. But I knew her mind was in other places.

And even though it still hurt that she didn't remember....my peace was coming from God and He was in the middle of my emotion at that moment.

On Friday, Satan took this hurt, in my tired, weakened state and made it into something bigger. My eyes went to the emotion of the circumstances and lies....off of God. The seed of bitterness was sown in that moment and when my sister called, it became full blown.

Tasha and I talked. I apologized and so did she. I know she loves Josh. I know she just forgot. We had a beautiful conversation. And God restored, as He always does, when we surrender to Him.

And you know what...I know God had my husband gone for a reason. Because had he been here, I would have sought my comfort from him and not God. I would have gone to that which I could see with my eyes, instead of God, who I can't feel and touch. Friday, in this moment, God wanted to grow my faith in HIM even more, in the midst of Satan trying to send me over the edge. God wanted me to choose Him.

Emotions are real. God gave us emotions when He created us. He felt emotion. Jesus came to experience in the flesh, all that we experience. He dealt with emotion when Lazarus died. He dealt with emotion when being tempted by Satan in the desert. He felt emotion when he was scourged. I'm sure he felt emotion on the cross when He took the sins of all of us upon his shoulders. Can you imagine that??

But it is what we do with the emotion. It is where we place our mind. Is it on the circumstances and others....or is it on God, and HIM alone? Do I let others shape my thoughts, or Jesus alone? Am I looking at how others make me feel...or just looking at God alone.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. " Isaiah 26:3-4

I can be sad that no one calls and remembers. But I can't put reasons behind it. I can't allow the emotion to overtake me and perpetuate my thoughts. I can't allow Satan to get behind the emotion.

I need to hold to Jesus.

I need to hold to His truth. That Josh was purposeful. God doesn't make mistakes. Josh was God's blessing and creation. Josh is remembered and continues to be a part of people's hearts. Josh's legacy is continuing....even without phone calls. And just because people don't call, doesn't mean they don't think about Joshua. Everyone processes differently and acts differently. I need to trust God and the work that He is doing...even behind the scenes.

I can cry. I can ache. I can mourn. I can grieve. I can cry out to God to comfort me in my times of weakness. And, there are lots of those times.

But, my mind.....it has to stay on Christ and His truth....that way, when Satan tries to rob, steal, destroy and take my mind to horrible, self pity places.....I will be "steadfast, and immovable" in Christ. He will bring peace into the chaos of me.

It is a much better day today.

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

Humbly sitting at His feet today-Stacy (I don't know if any of this makes sense..I pray it does!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Joshy....


"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2


It's hard to believe that it has been six years. August 14, 2002, Joshua Isaac was born into our family. 9:53 am delivered by c-section, 3 weeks ahead of his due date. Our 4th boy. Joshua was born with Trisomy 18.

The doctors had said he wouldn't make it through delivery. He did.

They said he wouldn't be able to take a breath. He did and he cried.

The ultrasound showed a gastroschisis of his intestines. There wasn't.

They thought he had a two vessel cord. It ended up being 4! (normal is 3)

He was small. 4 lbs. 9 oz. He had tiny ears and a tiny mouth. Perfect nose and beautiful, deep blue eyes. And a bald head.

His little hands were clenched into fists that didn't open, except for his little pinky on his right hand...which he loved to keep straight.

God worked many miracles that August 14th day, 6 years ago. We prayed for healing....God healed. We asked God to give us time with our son.....and He did. He was gracious. There is so much I am thankful for.

And here I sit, today, on what would be his 6th birthday. It is a strange, emotional day each year. I told my husband today, that this day is like watching a movie that you have seen many times. The first time you watch it.....there is some apprehension....you don't know what is going to happen. The next time you watch it.....you know what to expect. You know the ending. It might still make you cry, but not as hard. You might still laugh, but you know the jokes that are coming. And somehow, whereas you might love the movie.....it changes each time you see it. Each time you watch it.....you see more details. You catch something you didn't the first, second or third time around. That is how Josh's birthdays are to me. There isn't worry or fear about what is coming. I know the ending. But I think back to the different moments. The moments throughout the day, as they unfolded 6 years prior. I see more details in the big picture that God was and is still weaving together.

I remember walking into the hospital early in the morning. I remember our pastor coming around the corner as we made our way to the labor and delivery floor. I remember laying on the operating table with Sara Groves singing in the background (my ob let me bring in my own CD player during the delivery.) I remember the solitude and somber attitudes that filled the OR. I remember the chill that came over me as they prepared me for delivery. I remember the nurses trying to ask questions about my other children, hoping to ease my anxiety. I remember my husband laying his hand upon my arm. I remember praying. Praying so hard that God would be gracious in this moment. That Josh would live. I remember him being delivered and taken from my body. I remember the joy on my doctor's face at seeing Josh's intestines enclosed within his abdomen. I remember Josh faintly crying and the nursing staff being amazed at his cries. I remember him being laid gently next to my face and feeling the warmth of his skin next to mine. I savor these moments. They aren't erased. They are a part of me, forever.

I remember Josh being wrapped tightly in a blanket and being given to me, as they wheeled me back to a delivery room. My family was all there and they each came in to the room. Josh was doing well. But his skin tone was dark. He was breathing, but he was having some trouble. We just didn't know how long we had and wanted to hold tightly to each and every moment. Josh was dedicated to the Lord by our Pastor. And after each family member held Josh, he laid with me....content. I had peace that day throughout each moment. I had God's peace over me. I knew we were all in the palm of God's hand. I trusted God.....but as a mommy......I ached inside. I cried for my baby and for his life however long or short it would be. I just wanted to be still. He was here and he was wrapped in my arms. I wanted to just hold tightly to him.

God choose to Give Joshua life and for that, I was thankful. Josh didn't leave my side. We spent three days in the hospital, more for my recovery than for Joshua, and then came home with Joshua. He was on a feeding tube, but that was all the support he needed. And he lived with us and his 3 older brothers for 119 beautiful and glorious days.

And so today, it was a day, like any other....except my mind was focused on him all day.....as well as on God. My BB, Beth, called right at 8:30 this morning to say hi and let me know she was thinking of me today. I cried. She was with us in the recovery room. She held Josh in his first moments. She knows this day well. She remembers.

She asked me what I was going to do today. I told her I had cleaning to do and at some point, I would pull out all of Josh's "visual history" and go through it. That is what I do each birthday. I go through his memory box and read the cards that everyone sent me over the 13 months of his diagnosis, life and death. I go through his scrapbook of pictures. It's like watching a movie again and taking in each of the details more fully. Beth did that with me today. It was so nice to share that with her and to have her here.

And here is what I have to share from my day today. Here is what God has been speaking to my heart over the last couple weeks. It is captured in this picture that I took a couple weeks ago. I wasn't sure why I took this picture, at the time, but the look of the plant struck me, and God brought it all together today.

I was on the deck watering flowers. You can see that this poor flower needed some TLC. It is next to our pool and my sweet little 2 year old daughter, Faith likes to water it with the pool water. We have a salt water pool and plants don't really like salt water too much. It is water....but not the right kind. That is part of what hit me today. The leaves are wilted. If you look closely, you can see some weeds. But what really struck me the day I took this picture was this: The flowers. This plant bore fruit. There were some beautiful flowers. But then the flowers in their beauty had to die. Their life came to an end. They needed to be cut off and then in their place a new bud would emerge, that would bring forth another brilliant flower: new life.







If I was diligent in pruning, or deadheading this plant.....there would be gorgeous buds and blooms throughout. It I was diligent in watering this plant, with good water (Jesus Christ)...there would be gorgeous buds and blooms throughout. If I did all of this.....deadhead, water and place in the sun....this plant's blooms would be born, but still eventually die. Just like in this picture. Each bloom would go through its life cycle and die and in its place, a new more glorious bloom would emerge. It is a process. It is a cycle. It is life and death. It is transformation.

That has been my journey with Joshua. It has been a journey of physical life and death. But more importantly.....a journey of spiritual death and life.

When we received Joshua's diagnosis at 20 weeks gestation. God was bringing me to a point of death. I was walking with God....but I was doing the leading. I was reading my Bible, but not diligently. I knew God as my savior. But He wasn't my LORD. I had been at a women's conference right before his diagnosis, and I bought this book out of the blue (God ordained.....not out of the blue!) Elisabeth Elliot's "A Path Through Suffering." I highly recommend this book to anyone experiencing pain and loss. This book rocked my world. (Really God did....but He did it through this book). I read it in the days preceding Joshua's diagnosis. In the book Elisabeth Elliot speaks of death bringing forth life....the life of Christ lived through us as we die to our agendas, our plans, our wills.

"I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20


"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you." 2 Corinthians 4:6-12

I was like that flower pot. I was barely surviving spiritually. I still had blooms, but they too were dying. But I needed so much more and before more blooms could come....the old had to be cut off. God used Joshua to cut off the old in my heart. And through Joshua, made all things new.

When I was pregnant. The refiner's fire was another big verse for me. Malachi 3:3

"He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord."

I found out about what a refiner does. As the silver or gold is in the furnace, he sits patiently by and waits for the impurities to burn out of the metal. The heat is up high and the silver and gold is melted and purified. The silver and gold is valuable. The refiner doesn't want the metal to go to waste. The refiner knows when the metal is done....because he can see his face shining back from the metal. He then pulls the silver or gold out of the furnace.

For these past 6 years, I had thought I was in the furnace during Joshua's pregnancy through his life and then his death. But then I thought I was taken out.

Today, as I was cleaning and vacuuming our mudroom...I looked down and saw dirt all over the baseboards. I saw cobwebs in the corners, behind a chest. Here I was feeling sorry for myself today....Joshua's birthday......I was cleaning. I wasn't preparing for a party. I wasn't baking a cake. I was vacuuming the floor of our mudroom.

But you see, cleaning......refining....that is what God has been doing with me since Joshua.....and it hasn't ended. Just like my mudroom floor, there are cobwebs in my heart. The baseboards are dirty. It thought I was out of the refinery. I gave God glory. I laid my will down, my cross and I willingly picked up HIS. But, no, I believe, as God spoke to my heart today, that in this life, we are always in the refinery.....the temperature just changes, as the heart dictates. The refining, the good, it is becoming like Jesus. This takes a lifetime. It is a process and we aren't finished until we are face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Joshua......he is finished. He is refined. He is in his glorious body. And today, on his 6th birthday, I am still in the refining fire. Right now, the heat isn't turned up too high. The plant. Well, it is blooming.....I think. But each bloom will still need to be pruned to bring something more glorious. The temperature, at some point, it will be turned back up. And with the plant and with the fire....God sits patiently, watching, asking for more of us to be laid down, cutting off the dead shoots, and taking that which is broken, that which is dead, and bringing forth life.

Six years after my son was born and then taken home to heaven. I can say that there is new life in me. I praise God for that. Do I feel grief and pain.....not like I did six years ago. The movie....it replays each year......but I know that:

"in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son." Romans 8:28,29

May others see my blooms and ask for the hope that is within me....it is Jesus Christ. To Him alone I give all the honor and praise.

And I know that one day, I will be reunited with my son! Happy Birthday Baby....mommy loves you!

Here are a bunch of pictures that I wanted to share with you all of my baby boy, Joshua.



Right after Josh's birth




Our first family picture....although Luke wasn't here. He was only 1 so stayed home with a sitter.




Our Pastor holding Josh and dedicating him to the Lord.



Seth holding Josh shortly after his birth

Mommy and Josh-Chest to chest...our favorite place to be.






All my boys in 2002, Ben, Seth, Luke and Josh

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WFW and Two Prayer Requests





Sorry I'm so late today in publishing.....Word Filled Wednesday. It has been a busy day around the D Household and I am just now sitting down to the computer!

I have a couple of prayer requests for all of you prayer warriors who might be reading today and would covet your prayers on behalf of these two families.

A couple weeks ago, I found my way to An Unfinished Life: The Story of Christian Dale Paige and my heart ached for this couple that I was reading about: Ryan and Leah and their precious little baby, Christian. My heart ached because I, too, know so vividly the feelings that they are feeling, the pain, the uncertainty of their son's future, the anticipation at meeting their son....but the question of "how long, Lord....how long will we have with our son?" and then the need to just rest in God's hand and let Him alone carry you. To trust Him no matter what!

Since then, I have been praying for them and for their dear, sweet boy, Christian. This is Ryan and Leah's first child, and at around 20 weeks, they found out that their son had Trisomy 18 (which is the same random genetic condition that our son, Joshua, was born with.) Leah just found out that her induction date is Friday, August 22nd. I ask you all to please pray for this family. Please pray that God would heal Christian....because HE can. I believe that in Faith. Please pray that God would strengthen Leah and Ryan in this week preceding Christian's birth, and please pray that God would be gracious and grant them time with their son. Please pray that they would feel God's arms wrapped around them and that He alone would carry them. That they would put their hope and their faith in HIM.

I also would like to ask you to pray for a family that are dear friends of ours. They aren't part of the blogging community, but a brother and sister in the Lord and part of our church family. I'll refer to them as L (husband) and A (wife) and they have two very sweet, small children. A couple months ago, L found out that he had a lesion at the base of his brain. The lesion seemed to be non-growing and something that the doctors were just watching. L didn't have any other symptoms and other tests came back normal.

A couple weeks ago, L went in to have a follow-up MRI done and they have learned that the lesion is growing and now considered a tumor. L will be meeting with a leading neurosurgeon this Friday to discuss surgical options. Please pray for this family. Please pray that God would divinely intervene and remove the tumor Himself and that surgery wouldn't even be needed. If this isn't God's Will, please pray that the tumor is benign. Please pray over this appointment, that God would give the doctor's wisdom, that the doctors would know the Lord and they would be compassionate. Please pray for strength and continued peace for this family during this time of trial and uncertainty and waiting.

This family is a household "built on the rock of Jesus Christ." They are steadfast and are praising Him in the midst of this all. They have a peace that only comes from God....they know He is in control. But they are in the storm, nonetheless. Please pray that God's love would shine so brightly forth as they continue to witness to so many friends and family during this time.

I chose this verse as a reminder for each of us to lift up one another before God's throne because the "prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." I can't thank you enough for your prayers.

Your fellow prayer warrior-Stacy

Saturday, August 9, 2008

An offering


My favorite Place


When I was a little girl, I spent many a summer's day at my grandparents. Their house was like a mansion to me. It was in the middle of a small town and was enclosed with a black rod iron gate. The house was nestled back off a cul-de-sac, sitting in front of a forest of trees. It had a grand presence and was made of brick, with a big circular driveway that lead you to a covered entrance...which would beckon you inside the double front doors. Once inside, there were treasures everywhere...in each room....as my grandparents were antique dealers....and they loved treasures....treasures with history....that had passed through many hands and graced the presence of many homes......treasures that had lived life and seen pain, joy, heartache and pleasure.

As a little girl, I loved going to my grandparents home. I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt whole. And my grandparents, they loved having us there. They would lavish their love upon us grandchildren in many different ways...there was a candy jar in the kitchen (always brimming full with treats...that we never got at home), there were the special bedrooms...the red room and the green room with the tall antique bed, always ready and waiting for us, grandchildren....and when you slept on this bed, you felt like a princess (we all wanted this room). There was the basement which my grandfather filled with games and toys for us children. And then in the backyard, there was the pool....that my grandfather always heated because it had to be just right for us grandchildren.

And outside under the canopy of trees, on the side yard, on the edge of the creek.....my grandfather had hung a hammock. The hammock was a place of rest and solitude. Laying in that hammock, your soul was still. Enclosed around you were the sounds of the creek running over the rocks, the wind blowing through the trees, the birds singing their songs of praise....and my grandfather, thinking of everything, had hung a small rope to a branch on the tree, so that as you laid peacefully in the hammock, you could pull the string and gently rock back and forth...without anyone else needing to push you. Even as a small child, I loved the hammock and all that it represented to me. There wasn't a lot of stillness in my spirit during those years, but in the hammock.....all was quiet and still.

When we moved to the home where we live now (about 6 years ago), our backyard reminded me a little of my grandparents. Our backyard is filled with 150 foot poplar trees. These trees stand tall and very straight and seem to reach the heavens. Our previous home didn't have mature trees....but this home.....they were everywhere....and the arms to hold a time remembered hammock were beckoning.

Nestled between two trees, under the canopy of the trees leaves and branches, we hung our own hammock. When laying peaceful, cradled inside....I would fondly think back to my grandparent's home, to my grandfather who died 12 years ago....and to that feeling of being held and surrounded by God and His beauty. The safety.

I don't make it out to the hammock often, as the busyness and responsibilities of being a wife and a mother consume much of my time....and many of my quiet moments are spent at 5:30 in the morning sitting with my Bible, cup of coffee, pen and journal soaking up the quietness and the treasures that God imparts from His Word.

But there are those days, when the hammock beckons...the home is tended to....and I can just lay and be still. I savor those moments.

God has been doing a work in me this summer and has been teaching me on many fronts....breaking me again. He has been stripping down some walls and some agreements that I have made...agreements that I have set up in my heart like....."If I obey all that God has set forth, then He will love me." But God wants more than just obedience and He loves me know matter what I do. I don't have to DO anything....just submit to Him. Again and again, He reminds me that life....every aspect, is not about me. It is about what He wants to do in and through me, for His purposes and plans. And as I put my mind on Him, His plans become mine.

I have felt drained at times this summer....emotionally drained, as I have been really questioning God and asking for understanding on all that He is showing me. He has been challenging me on belief systems, in relationships and how I portray Him to others (from my legalistic background). As He has revealed His truths to me, through His word, comforted me....healed past relationships....been moving mightily in and around me...I have been comforted and strengthened by Him alone.

In the midst of this all, there is the area of ministry. He has been teaching me this summer about being a servant. A servant to my husband, a servant to my family, a servant to my friends, a servant to my neighbors, a servant to His body.....a servant of HIS. As He has been teaching....He also has been calling me to step out of the boat into an area of ministry that is so intimidating to me.

This calling began about 4+ years ago, as God placed such a burden on my heart for women. And as I was so excited about what laid ahead.....wondering and asking, "God, is now the time you want to use me?" Each time, He said, "No, not now. It isn't the right time. There is more I need to do in you." Doors would close, but my heart, oh, my heart still yearned for His timing to be made complete. Through this time, God continually spoke to my heart that my ministry was in my home. It was to my husband and my children. It was enough. And it was.....but He was planting seeds for things to come. There was so much He needed to teach me.

Well, about a month ago....the yearning became a distinct call. (I can't go into specifics right now, but will when I am able.) In the midst of my quiet time, God told me plainly that the time had come. This time, I fought back. I told God no. I told God that I was too young, too inexperienced, too incapable.....that I didn't know enough as others who appeared more "qualified." I pushed back. Here all along, I was waiting for this time....and as He appointed the time....Satan brought in fear and doubt. I told God that if I was to step out of the boat...into the uncertainty....He would have to make it abundantly clear. (God help me for my unbelief!)

He did.

One Saturday morning, in my quiet time, I was crying out to God to speak to me....I was listening. I asked Him to just show me what to read that morning. Open me up to the page He needed me to read in the Bible...the scripture that would answer my cry...that would give me the answer from Him that I so desperately needed. I didn't want to take one step in this calling, without complete assurance that He was in it. That there was nothing in my flesh calling me forth, just HIM.

"Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with HIM." Exodus 34:29

Moses had just spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments from God himself. Moses was God's servant who brought the 10 commandments to God's people. He also received instruction on how to construct God's tabernacle. He was in the presence of the Lord and His face resembled the majesty, the glory of God. He shone.

Moses came down from the mountain and spoke to the children of Israel telling them that God wanted an offering "from among them" for the Tabernacle. This idea of an offering intrigued me? What exactly is an offering. I know in a monetary sense what an offering is...but here in Exodus, what was being asked of the Israelites?

"This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying, "Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart." Ex. 35:4-5

An offering to God....it was something they already had that had been given by God. And God wanted it to be given back to Him, willingly. The Israelites didn't need to DO anything....just give back, their best.

"Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord's offering for the work of the tabernacle of meetings, for all its service and for the holy garments." Ex. 35:21

This idea of an offering was seen again in 1 Chronicles 29. David had received instruction from God about building the temple. He had been given all the instructions, but because he was a man of war, he would not be able to construct it. His young son, Solomon, was to become King and build the temple.

God said to David, "Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God." 1 Chron. 22:11-12

As David is passing the leadership onto his son, he said:

"My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced; and the work is great, because the temple is not for man but for the Lord God. " 1 Chron. 29:1

"Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord?" 29:5

To consecrate, to set apart or devote to the service and worship of God, alone. We must offer ourselves to God first, before our treasure, and then offer willingly all that God has given us: our money, our time, our gifts and abilities, our families, our hearts. It all begins in the heart.

"Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart, they had offered willingly to the Lord;" 29:9

I sat in awe this Saturday morning. Here was my heart's cry.......and here God answered speaking directly into my insecurities, my doubt, my fears.

It is my work Stacy. Not yours. And the work is great. It is more than you can handle. YOU don't have enough wisdom, You don't have enough of anything by yourself. I don't want you holding back.

Give me an offering. I've already given you the gift. I will give you wisdom. I will give you understanding. I will give you discernment. I will teach you. Please give back to me willingly. It is all of ME and it is my work. I will do it through you.

I got it.

Well, like any Israelite.....in the later weeks, I doubted. I had bread, and then wanted water. But God is so faithful and continued each time to give me more. He confirmed over and over again.

Then comes the testing.

This week, I was in the testing and it all came to a head on Thursday. I needed to be still before God. I needed comfort. I needed to be held. I needed to be covered....because this child was hurting. I won't go into details, but events took place that shook my faith in God's calling. I was wavering, questioning....and hurting. And like any parent who sees his child hurting.....you stretch out your hands and bring your child into the folds of your embrace to reassure and comfort.

That is what my Father did.

In the afternoon, after spending a bit of time praying and reading and just sitting at God's feet. I felt refreshed.....but drained. Faith was taking a nap, the older boys were up the street playing at the neighbors and Luke and Jed were contently playing in the basement.

The hammock beckoned my name.

I retreated to my favorite place. To lay in the peacefulness, under the canopy of the trees.

You know what happened? It was a moment I will treasure.

I climbed into the hammock, swung my feet around, laid my head back......and the sun beat brilliantly down on my face....and in that instant, I had to turn away, for it shone so brightly...too brightly. The heat warmed my face and as I turned back to look up into the trees....the sun passed behind the next tree. It still shone through, but not like it did in that instant.

It was a moment that I truly felt in God's presence. He shone down on me giving me that reassurance that He has all the details in control. Just rest. Let me do the work. It is His work. You are safely in my embrace. You don't have to understand what is going on around you....just trust me.

Two minutes later, Faith woke up, the boys came running into the back yard and Luke and Jed wandered outside wanting to join me on the hammock.

I asked Ben to run inside and get me the camera so I could capture this moment. What you see in the picture is a glimpse of what God showed me as I looked up through the towering trees.

It was beautiful. Isn't God that way? His love is amazing. His love is real. He is real. And whatever He is calling you to, whatever He is beckoning forth.....trust HIM. Lay your offerings down at His feet, for the work-that is great-that He desires to do. And He will shine so brightly and magnificently upon you-strengthening you, equipping you and growing your faith....and when you walk as His servant, others will see His glory reflected in you.

I am excited to see where God is going to take me......this servant is willingly.....stepping out of the boat. Where you lead, I will follow.










In His Amazing love and grace-Stacy

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drum Roll Please.....


I am humbled and honored to accept my first blogging award!! I was so shocked yesterday as I read through my comments and saw Amy had given me this beautiful award....a Brilliant Blogger Award....I am hardly that...but thank you Amy for thinking so!

Your words inspire me each day...thank you for sharing your heart for Jesus. Check out her blog and be blessed....especially on Wednesdays with Wordless Wednesdays. It is a wonderful idea for just meditating of God's word....His Word is so often enough! (But Amy definitely has some Godly wisdom and encouragement to share! :)

Thank you so much.

To all of you who have passed through my world and caught a glimpse of my heart, my family, and my love for Jesus...Him alone I desire to serve...thank you for stopping by. Thank you to those who have introduced yourselves. Thank you for your precious comments and your encouragement. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me.....as we are all on this journey of life, learning how to be the women God has called us to be....living our faith out loud....falling down, scrapping our knees, and getting up only by the power and strength of our loving Heavenly Father. To Him the praise and the glory. God isn't finished with us yet! :)

I am blessed by so many of you each day, as I read my favorites and usually stop by some new blogs....to hear God through each of you.

So, here's what I have to do. I have to answer the following questions and pass this award onto 7 other brilliant bloggers.

Here goes:

A. Attached or single? Attached

B. Best friend? My husband, Barclay since I was about 16. I can't imagine life without him. And Beth, (BF and sister in Christ) who God gave me as a neighbor years ago, when our friendship began...she held my hand, listened to me, cried with me and encouraged me as I walked through my darkest days of Joshua's diagnosis and then his death. She is the only one who remembers Joshua's birthday and homecoming day each year....she knows my heart. She is a friend like no other. I love you!

C. Cake or pie? Ice cream cake

D. Day of choice? Saturday-it is our family day. I love Sunday too, but my husband is an elder at our church and I serve as well, so Sundays can be a bit hectic sometimes.

E. Essential item? ponytail elastic bands...I love my long hair, but can't stand it in my face.

F. Favorite color? Chocolate brown and light pink

G. Gummy bears or worms? worms

H. Hometown? I have a couple....as home changed a lot when I was young...when I think of home though I think of Marcellus, NY and Winchester, VA

I. Indulgence? ice cream and Starbucks....(both need some discipline employed!!)

J. January or July? July

K. Kids? 6 (4th son worshipping Jesus in Heaven....can't wait to see you Baby!!)

L. Life isn’t complete without? God, the Father; Jesus, the son and the amazing Holy Spirit

M. Marriage date? June 4, 1994

N. Number of brothers & sisters? 2 sisters (I'm the middle child) and a half brother and sister

O. Oranges or apples? Apples

P. Phobias? Being alone....God is working on me with this one....I'm really never alone with HIM.

Q. Quotes? In Elizabeth Elliot's "A Path Through Suffering" - "It is when the death of winter has done its work that the sun can draw out in each plant its own individuality, and make its existence full and fragrant. Spiritual growth means something more than the sweeping away of the old leaves of sin-it means the life of the Lord Jesus developed in us." (Lilias Trotter)

R. Reasons to smile? tickle giggles from Faith and Jed, deep conversations with Luke, Seth and Ben and big boy hugs (they are never too old) and hearing my husband pull up in the driveway and then walk in the door each day after work....I still get butterflies. A content smile at a quiet house at the end of another day.

S. Season of choice? late Spring and early Summer..when life has come back and the trees and flowers are bursting with color

T. Tag seven peeps! (see below)

U. Unknown fact about me? my eyes change color depending on what I'm wearing...bluish colors...my eyes are blue....otherwise they are a light greenish color with a yellow ring around my pupil.....weird, I know...oh and I can touch my tongue to my nose.

V. Vegetable? Love them all....wish I could grow them though.

W. Worst habits? grinding my teeth at night.....enjoying coffee way too much!

X. X-ray or ultrasound? neither.....I don't like going to the doctors.

Y. Your favorite food? ice cream....is there a pattern here?

Z. Zodiac sign? Taurus....but so not into that kind of thing!

So, drum roll please.........

7 Brilliant Bloggers I am passing this award along to:


The women I have chosen are all new friends to me. They are women who have travelled a similar path as my own....having your precious child taken home to heaven (so early in life) and in the midst of that pain, finding God's love and grace, His goodness and mercy, His strong arms.. and allowing Him to change us, transform us, conform us more like HIM. To see our pain through His eyes and to praise Him. You will be blessed to know these women. Congrats ladies! Let God's light shine....you have shined on me!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Teachable Moment

Being a parent.....with it you enter a whole new season of life. It is rewarding, it is challenging, it brings joy, it brings sorrow, it brings sleepless nights, and early mornings, it brings about Godly conviction into our lives and opportunity to teach Godly lessons into the lives of our children.....but most of all...it is love....an example of God's love. As we parent....we love and train, discipline and forgive, are gracious and merciful.... to our children. We are modeling Christ to our children in all that we do and say.

We are a loving instrument that God uses to channel instruction, discipline, love, submission and Godly purpose into the lives and hearts of our children. We don't desire obedience alone....although parenting begins with requiring obedience through correction....but it moves quite quickly into shaping a posture of servant hood toward Jesus....getting at the heart. For obedience without the heart is like obeying the law and forfeiting the new covenant through Jesus Christ. God wants so much more of us....and our children.

Our children are arrows....God's arrows...in our quiver.

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;" Psalm 127:4-5

What makes an arrow useful?

It must be sharp. A dull arrow will achieve nothing.

It must be straight. A crooked arrow goes astray. It can't reach the target.

It needs to be made of the right material, the right kind of wood for the purpose at hand. Hunting arrows or target arrows....but when made from scratch...they start from saplings and then the sapling is seasoned....it is dried and prepped. It is a process.

The right feathers must be prepared, applied and positioned...perfectly. For this is imperative if the arrow is going to fly.....all alone toward the end goal.

Each arrow is distinguished among the others. It is crested. No two arrows are exactly alike. Cresting adds beauty to the finished arrow.

As the arrow is released from the strings of the bow, from the hand that holds it tightly.....the hands that have invested time and energy into it, the hands that gently, lovingly, made the arrow, the hands that so desire for the arrow to reach its target......the arrow sails and lands right where it is pointed. Bulleseye!

As parents, we are the bowman put in charge over the arrows. We hold the strings that hold the arrow. It is our job, our calling from God to train our children in the way of the Lord. So that when the arrows are released, they go forth swiftly, unwavering, with purpose toward the calling that God has on their lives.

My heart's cry is to train my children in all of God's ways. That they may know God, not just recite Bible verses (which is great!). Not just know each and every Bible story (again great!)....all of these are part of training and need to be part of the foundation, but I long for my children to understand the heart of God. I want them to OWN their faith and walk it out. They need to be able to have a faith in God that allows them to obey that which they can't see physically.....this begins with obeying that which they can see.....us parents. It can't just be in their heads. The heart has to be involved. That they would hear God when He calls and that they would desire to follow Him...yes, that is what I long for for my children. That they would set their minds on the things of His kingdom, not on what this earth has to offer. That is my prayer.

"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. 'For in these I delight,' says the Lord." Jeremiah 9:23-24


Yesterday, I had one of these teachable moments with my 9 year old. It was a moment that we mommies cherish. I wanted to sit in that moment for a long time and savor the goodness of God with my son, Seth. (He didn't sit with me for long...but long enough to open his heart and mind and listen.) I sat with God afterwards...thanking Him for this teachable moment, praying that the truth would take hold, be deeply rooted.

As my children get older, parenting moves from correction for actions (Proverbs 29:15) into correction for attitudes. (Ohhh, this is so much harder in my opinion.) You see a stronghold in your children: pride, envy, anger, selfishness, etc....and you know that that needs to be "dried" from that arrow, or else that arrow will be useless for God.

Here's how my teachable moment played out.


Seth is the second oldest. He has no fear and with that comes pride. He likes to be cool and accepted by others (don't we all??) He isn't an overachiever, but he likes to perform well. He loves the Lord. (Thank you Jesus!) And has learned to open God's word and let God speak to his heart on things that trouble him. This has been a process...but one in which we are now seeing fruit.


Our boys race motocross...well hare scrambles...if you are familiar with motorbikes. It's a long story...but being a mommy to 5 (1 in heaven) boys, we came across this sport as a way to not constantly be a family who "divides and conquers" so our children can be in sports. It is a family sport for us and we love it! Our backyard has become a practice track with jumps and all. Seth rides almost everyday and his best friend: J- a wonderful, God loving young man, rides, as well. J, Seth's friend, just recently got a new dirt bike. A really big dirt bike. And then last week, we upgraded Ben's bike to a bike the same size as J's.

This injured Seth's pride. He struggled with feeling inferior to Ben and J. He struggled with having the "smaller" bike. Seth has a great bike, that he too, got this year, and it is perfect for his size.....and mighty powerful. When Seth rides, he is in control of that bike.....it doesn't control him.


So, that set the scene for the movings in Seth's heart. Haven't we all been in that place at one time, as adults?..We have a great home...but the neighbor's home is just a bit bigger and beautifully decorated....we get a new shirt.....and our friend gets a new outfit....shoes and all.....God tells us to be content (in many countries, people don't even own more than one shirt!) But we compare, we are envious.....we desire the best.

Well, J came over to play and ride. J didn't bring his bike and rode an extra one of ours. But he also rode Ben's new bigger bike a lot. Discontentment started to creep in Seth.....he became jealous of the boys...and Ben's new bike. Shortly after the riding began, Seth was in the house gently crying, but with a BIG attitude.

m-"Seth what is the matter?"

S-"The boys are riding Ben's bike and they won't let me ride...they keep laughing....and making me feel bad."

m-"Why do you want to ride Ben's bike? You're bike is great."

s-"Well, Ben's bike is bigger....they keep talking about it. It is making me really mad....and hurting my feelings. I'm not riding anymore."

m-"Why are your feelings hurt? You have an awesome bike that you ride so well? They don't make you feel mad...you are in charge of your own feelings....not them."

He then pouts, which turns into a young man temper tantrum, crosses his arms and you can just see the barriers climbing up all around him. The strongholds are casting their hold. Seth needs to hear from God right now and I need to direct him to the feet of Jesus....

In our two older boys, when we see sin wrapping itself tightly around the heart of our children....the only way we know to combat that sin is to get them into God's word. I sent Seth off to his room to sit and pray, open his Bible and see what God had to say about his attitude.

This isn't new for them. Before we began doing this.....I showed them how to do it...modelling. I believe it is invaluable in training our children.

A couple minutes later, Seth emerges from his room and comes downstairs. I see his posture hasn't changed. Mission hasn't been accomplished. But the conversation continues:

m-"So, did God speak anything to your heart?"

s-(arms are still tightly crossed, pout on his face) "No"

m-"Where did God lead you in the Bible? What did you read?"

s-"Revelations"

m-(whooa...that's a deep one...not exactly where I thought he'd go...but I probe deeper.) "Did God speak to your heart?"

s-"No"

m-"Why don't you go back upstairs and try again. Just be quiet with God and ask Him to search your heart in prayer."

s-"ok"

You know when we are outside God's will with our attitudes. We are in turmoil. It doesn't feel good. We are outside the safety zone and want desperately to be back in the fold. Sometimes, we know what we need...to sit at Jesus's feet, but we fight it. We don't let down our will to see His.

Seth needed gentle coaxing and encouraging back to Jesus's feet. God was giving me this simple moment to plant a seed in Seth's heart upon an issue that is not new for Seth.

Seth returns.

m-"So, did God speak to your heart?"

s-"yes"

(his arms are now at his side.....his body has relaxed....the softness is returning in his face.)

m-"Did He give you a verse or speak to your heart?"

s-"not exactly....but I know I need to take my thoughts and put them away."

m-(the door is open.....Wow...I am excited...) "Put them away....that is great. What does that mean?"

s-"I don't know....get rid of them?"

m-"That is great. Can I give you a verse that is on my heart?" Willingness...he must be willing to receive if this seed is going to take root.

s-"Sure mom."

Ok....Lord....guide me......I have the words "acknowledge me" in my thoughts....I go and grab my Bible and look acknowledge up in the concordance...I have parts of the verse floating in my head....

"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:6

m-"Seth, do you know what it means to acknowledge God in all things?"

s-"Kind of"

m-"It means to observe God in everything...see Him everywhere....get to know Him as you are living....making decisions, forming attitude....feeling certain ways.....dealing with friends who have bigger dirt bikes. Do you know what I mean?"

s-"I think so."

m-"Can I give you another verse?"

"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:

m-"yes, we need to put away our thoughts...but even better we need to replace them with Godly thoughts. When pride enters in, when envy enters in, discontentment....we need to take those feelings and thoughts and replace them or put them away. We need to ask Jesus to fill our minds with contentment, gratitude, thanksgiving...for what we have and what our friends have. When you put your mind on God and His ways....the focus is off of us. God then gives us that contentment He wants us to have. We need to think about Jesus in everything. Do you get it?"

s-(totally relaxed now) ">Yeh, mom. I get it. Thanks."

With a hug and a kiss...out the door he goes to ride.

(Later, I have him write the verses on index cards and put them in his Bible...to meditate and read daily...to hide in his heart.)

And there I sit with God....thanking him for this teachable moment with Seth. This moment so purposeful and useful in shaping that arrow...my son. The precious thought life that we all deal with. It is hidden within, and when the thoughts are on us and this world.....it often isn't pretty. And the lesson was for me, as well.....my thought life....my discontentment at times.....the conviction..."to acknowledge God in everything!"

So, another day in arrow making. This day proved to be productive. I'll savor this moment and take each opportunity I have to sharpen those arrows....for the day comes ever so quickly when the bow will have to be released and my precious arrows will be flying.



Seth after finishing his race on 7/27.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Plague of the Frogs

Do you remember the account in Exodus 8 where God demonstrates HIS great power to Pharaoh and the Egyptians? He ultimately delivers the children of Israel from Pharaoh's rule after hardening Pharaoh's heart. Pharaoh wouldn't let the children of Israel leave Egypt. They were being oppressed. They were Pharaoh's slaves, being severely mistreated. Through Pharaoh's stubbornness, God set the scene to deliver the children of Israel from his rule and prove to the Egyptians that He was the living God. Through Moses and Aaron, God repeatedly told Pharaoh, "to let the children go." But Pharaoh wouldn't listen.

God sent down 10 plagues (signs and wonders) from Heaven to show His power and bring judgment on Egypt. The second plague, was that of frogs.

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, "Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. So, the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the house of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants." Exodus 8:1-4

This is what I thought of this morning, as my dear, sweet, 7 year old, animal enthusiast son, Luke, beckoned me outside in my pajamas to check on his frogs from last night. 12 poor frogs spent their night in our recycling bin.




As the daylight fades and evening approaches, you will find Luke hunting through the dirt and grass of our yard in search of frogs....really dirt toads (I think). They don't live in water, they live in the moist dirt, and as darkness envelopes, the frogs descend upon us. They are everywhere in the yard....teeny tiny baby frogs, medium sized adolescent frogs...and the big daddy frog that lives in our downspout. Luke will sit guard and wait for him. He is HUGE! The biggest frog I have ever seen.

Daily, my frog loving son will catch the frogs, put them in the recycling bin filled with dirt and stones and there they will spend the night. He even catches bugs for their midnight snack. Lightening bugs seem to be the bug of choice. You know when a frog has eaten a lightening bug because his whole belly lights up! (I am absolutely serious....I had to see it to believe!)
Then each morning, I gently tell Luke that his "overnight pets" need to be let go. He always asks if he can keep "just one a little longer?" I feel bad....for Luke and then for the frog. I agree, but as he lets the others go......I think he, too, feels bad and the last frog is released, only to be captured again that evening.

The release is quite funny. As we gently tip the recycling bin to its side...the frogs realize freedom is at hand. They are tentative to emerge from the bin (probably from all the jostling), but once they taste freedom...they are off in every direction.

When my aunts were here last week, one had the idea to mark the frogs to see if Luke always finds the same ones (he has to be or else we really are dealing with the plague of the frogs around here!) But we have begun marking them with red nail polish-ever so slightly. Now, if anyone reading this thinks that is cruelty to animals...I am sorry....it is really innocent. We don't intend any harm. I looked on the internet to see how to mark frogs, but didn't come up with anything. If anyone knows a better way....please share...as I don't desire a yard filled with dead frogs...and my son would be crushed beyond belief. So far, so good.

Last night, he was quite excited because our first "marked" frog had been found. We marked the rest of the frogs and will see who reappears in the coming days.


I love seeing the outdoors through his little nature loving eyes. He loves all of God's creation and is in awe and wonderment at each new creature that crosses his path. I am not much of a science loving mommy.....it just wasn't ever my thing. But to see this love and passion in my child, it brings a whole new passion for me. Together we investigate each animal and find out how to care for it, what it eats, how it lives...and it breaks his heart to see them hurt or injured. We've investigated caterpillars, worms, snakes, spiders, turtles and birds and this year.....it has been all about frogs!

I'm happy and relieved to say, we don't have frogs coming in our bedroom, into our oven, or in our kitchen bowls....sometimes into the house.....but I quickly scurry Luke back to the outdoors, frog in hand! So, the plague of frogs around here has stayed outdoors.

If you ever drive by my house at dusk and see a flashlight beaming in the dark....rest assured....it is just Luke hunting for his overnight pets.....his froggy friends!

May we all enjoy seeing God's creation through the eyes of our children and savor those moments of questions, wonderment and pure joy.....from one mommy to another-Stacy