Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tough Callings

God gave Mary a tough calling. 

Everything changed for her the day Gabriel showed up. But instead of resisting, questioning, or trying to gain more clarity, she responded with, 
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."
She would be misunderstood, called a liar and a lunatic for claiming to carry God's son, and scorned by her neighbors. That first Christmas, there were no friends and family celebrating the birth of this most precious of babies. She would be alone. With her new husband. In a dirty, musty stable. The only ones who did show up at the baby shower were a group of ragtag outcasts that I'm sure scared the living daylights out of Mary as they rushed in to sneak a peak of her newborn baby. 

Mary would surely fluctuate between fist pumping pride and confused embarrassment over her son's actions throughout his life. She wrestled with her desires to conform him to what she thought he should be and do. This new way of life, this new way of thinking and living… it was a lot to take in. 

And then, Mary would suffer more deeply than any one else besides Jesus himself as she watched in horror while they tore apart her son's body. The agony and grief she endured… all because she was "highly favored". 

We honor her today. But her life was far from honored at the time. It was hard. 

I want to learn that same humble posture from Mary:
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." 

  • Even when Your plan for my life looks different than what I had planned. 
  • Even when the road is tough and life isn't as fun as I was hoping. 
  • Even when other routes seem more relaxing, more scenic, more enjoyable.

I don't want to fight against it. I'll choose to embrace it. Your plan is always best. You make all things beautiful. You are working all this together for my good and Your glory.

This is the lesson I'm learning this Christmas season. Mary is yelling through a megaphone to me today. Her words leap off the page and across the ages and pierce my heart. "So, Stacie, God just threw you a curve ball? So it seems you're life may look different than what you had planned? I get that. I've been there. And here's what I learned: you don't get to choose your God ordained assignment, but you get to choose how you respond to it. Are you going to receive it with open hands and a humble heart? Or will you stomp your feet and throw up your arms in frustration? Receive it, Stacie. Receive it as a gift. When you do, you have no idea the amazing things God will do through your life. Don't resist. Receive."

Thank you, Mary, for being the picture of humble obedience to God's will. You're giving me courage today.
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Same Team

Recently I was thinking about the early relationship between Mary & Joseph. We don’t really know much about their feelings for each other. We know they were engaged to be married, and according to the times, it was an arranged marriage between a young, barely-entered-puberty, Mary to an older, able-to-provide-for-a-family, Joseph. We don’t know if they were attracted to each other or excited about the arrangement. They may have been, but it’s just as possible that there was some level of dread, especially on Mary’s part. 

And then enters the horribly upsetting news that Mary is pregnant, and Joseph knows it’s not his baby. I can only imagine the hurt, confusion, and betrayal Joseph must have felt, along with a heaping dose of anger. 

But then God showed up. An angel came to Joseph to reassure him of this miraculous conception. God supernaturally intervened which allowed Joseph to enter a covenant with Mary with a lot more confidence than if he was just relying on Mary’s word. 

Mary and Joseph were going to go through tremendous hardship together. God knew that. The angel didn’t show up to Mary’s parents or anyone else in their small hometown. No one else had confidence in the story they were telling. They were the town scandal. This child was seen as an illegitimate baby...Even though they did nothing wrong (and evidently most things right!) 

God wanted Joseph and Mary to be undoubtably on the same team. To have each other’s back. To be in each other’s corner. To defend each other’s honor and show each other love and respect when the harshness of the world crushed in all around them. They needed each other. 

I get that. I have seen the invaluable strength it provides when Andy and I are unified through a trial. When no one else understands what we’re going through. When judgements are passed and critics have their say. When life hurts and we don’t have good answers. 

We’ve been walking through a storm lately and, sometimes when we are in the thick of it, one of us will look at the other and say those two simple words, “Same team.” The comfort that brings is astounding. As he walks out the door for work and I have a crying baby in the high chair, a sink full of dishes, and a child who just drew a masterpiece on our hard wood floor, he looks in my eyes and says, “Same team.” 

And we both know exactly what that means that no matter what life throws at us, we will face it together. We will fight the problem, not each other. Our roles look different, but we are working toward the same end. We will not allow Satan to cause division. Even when we don’t know what to do to help or comfort the other, we are in each other’s corner. Even when I don’t understand his actions or he gets lost in my emotions, we both know with confidence that we are FOR each other. 

We are better together. Stronger together. So when we walk through storms, we will do it hand-in-hand, together. Same team. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

An Advent Resource: finding meaning amidst the chaos

I had an unwanted moment of self-revelation recently… I have begun to dread Christmas.

Really? Ugh! I hate that.

Christmas was always one of my favorite and most meaningful holidays. I have a thousand wonderful Christmas memories from childhood. Candlelight services on Christmas eve. Giddy anticipation. Stockings first, yummy brunch, then presents. Christmas music in the background and the smell of cinnamon rolls lingering in the air.

But, now, things are different. Well, they're actually quite similar; it's just my role has changed. Now, I'm the one buying and wrapping all the presents. I'm the one setting out all the decorations. I'm hosting parties and making the cinnamon rolls and trying to plan fun Christmas activities for our kids.

And somewhere in the midst of making it magical for everyone else, I've lost the wonder of it all for myself.

The dominate emotion I feel is no longer anticipation of Christmas, but relief when Christmas is over. And that's sad to me.

I want to anticipate His coming. I want to remember what a desperate and hopeless predicament mankind was stuck in until that silent night when Hope was born. I want to feel my own desperate need for this baby who split time and swept away darkness and made a way for redemption.

My life is in all kinds of need for Him right now. Some times we feel that more than others, and I'll just be honest, I feel it deeply. I need Him to surprise me with His presence the way He surprised the shepherds. I need to ponder Him in my heart the way Mary did. I need to go to ridiculous lengths to find Him the way the Wisemen did. I don't want to miss Jesus this Christmas.

This is the season of Advent. Anticipating something great. The arrival of something so important and significant that it changes everything. Yes, I think that's exactly what I need right now.

Last year we started a new tradition that I loved but think we will continue to tweak. We did a "Jesse Tree" last year and told a different Bible story each night that led up to the coming of Jesus. I liked the concept a lot, but the thing I want to tweak are the selected stories and how they are told. My goal is to tell Bible stories that all link directly to our need for a coming Savior.

Andy found this Advent resource and so I think we'll start here…with God's perfect creation, how we messed it up, and how He paved a way back.

I'd love to hear ideas from your family: How do you keep things simple enough to enjoy Christmas and meaningful enough that you don't miss Jesus?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Suck it up, Princess

I thought about starting this post by saying that I've been going through a tough time lately…there are some personal challenges in my life that are really weighing me down. But then I thought, I'm pretty sure anyone at anytime in their life could make a statement like that.

The challenges change during different seasons of life.

  • In college, I jammed my schedule SO full with classes, work, practicum, and ministry responsibilities that I could barely find time to eat or sleep.
  • When first married, my whole life got turned upside down with a new husband, new home, new city, and new job. I suffered through an undiagnosed depression for over a year. 
  • When we had our first child…
  • When we started South Bay Church...
  • When we adopted...

Some difficulties undoubtedly outweigh others. And, intermingled with the pain, every season has it's share of joys.

It's the dance of beauty and heartache. The place where laughter and tears merge. When fist-pumping victory in one area is tainted with failure in another. That moment when a breathtaking sunset is interrupted by a swarm of gnats.

We don't get to separate the two. They are always there…together.

And it is up to me to see the artistry in it all. To choose gratitude over pity. To cling to faith over despair. To believe truth instead of lies.

What I say to myself and about my situation can drastically affect, not only the outcome, but also how I walk through it. I have to surgically remove the lies I'm believing and replace them with what I know to be true.

  • I am blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)
  • God has given me everything I need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
  • His grace is more than enough. (James 4:6)
  • If I ask, He will give me wisdom. (James 1:5)
  • He has a plan and somehow this will work out for my good and His glory is I will stay the course. (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)

And then, some of the most inspirational words I'm saying to myself right now are: "Suck it up, Princess." 

I don't have time to wallow around in hopelessness. I've got three kids who are counting on me. I'm the only Mommy they get so I better put my hand to the plow and try my best. I've got laundry to do, meals to prepare, bills to pay, and scraped knees to bandage. I have work to do and I am stronger than I think I am. So I will brush the tears off my face (or sometimes just let them flow) and I will keep moving. I will suck it up and believe that when I do what only I can do, God will step in and do what only He can do.

Self-reflection has it's place...But you might as well be sorting the laundry while you at it.

So today, identify the lies that you are believing about yourself or your circumstance and then replace them with truth. You gotta suck it up, Princess. The world is counting on you to show up. To bring your best. Keep fighting through the gnats to dance in the sunset. I'll meet you there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Wish that I… 

...had a box that could keep every time, 

a remote to rewind back to every sweet moment we've shared,

 because time will fade memories.

 Oh you shimmer, you glimmer, you shine. 

Every breath that you take matches mine.

 When you smile all the world come to life

and, my Love, i would give you mine.

Click here to watch a 3 1/2 minute video that I will forever cherish.

(Photos by my talented friend, Nikki. Check her out here.)