Where did our villages go?

IMG_8399

Yesterday morning our power went out. Literally, a minute later I received a phone call from Luke’s school. He had been to the health room twice with complaints of not feeling well. Luke is very much a “I’m fine” kind of person, much like his mom in that aspect. I picked him up from school expecting the worst. Having a sick kid is not fun. Having a sick kid when you have no power equals a nightmare.

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit anxious and “woe is me” for a bit. I brought him home and he was feeling okay. So, I waited for the moment his stomach pain would return. I soon found out power would not be returning any time soon due to high winds. It was time to prepare for the day and night.

Since Luke was feeling okay at the time, I told him we had to go to the store for a few things but to let me know if he started to feel bad and we would get home asap. There was a different feel to the store. Workers were standing by the door because the winds were preventing the doors from opening on their own.  Other workers were outside helping people load up their bags so the carts wouldn’t roll away. People were speaking more to each other. People were helping each other. I know the workers had to help more, but it was as though their spirits were lifted doing so. It showed in their sincere smiles and in their words. It showed in the way their faces lit up when they received thanks for their going the extra mile.

We got home and Luke was still feeling okay. Still, I was waiting for him to get sick. He wanted to help prepare for the night and I decide to just let him. He stepped up like a little man and together we gathered our supplies. He replaced batteries in flashlights, cleared space for our sleeping quarters by the fireplace, and broke up sticks for extra kindling. He didn’t complain once. He joyfully helped me out, just as the workers at the store helped us out.

We picked Oliver up from school and the same thing happened to Oliver. He wanted to help and he did so joyfully. After our work was done I started a fire. Then we talked and played board games until Matt got home from work. When Matt got home, he fired up the grill and made some chicken as the sun went down. We lit candles and settled in for the night. Our dinner was simple and peaceful. After dinner, the boys told a couple shadow puppet stories and they drifted off to sleep. Oliver woke up once during the night and had a hard time settling back down, but he did eventually. Overall, things went better than expected.

This morning when our power came back on, I got a little sad. I know, roll your eyes all you want. The thing is, I loved the simplicity. I loved being unplugged from our regular lives for a day. It felt more authentic. More importantly, I saw the village we have forgotten about.

In our lives, there are many comforts and luxuries. We are lucky to have them. My husband is a hard worker and he takes such good care of us, and I am not ungrateful in any way. It is just, with all of our comforts and luxuries we have become a little too self- sufficient. We don’t need each other as much. Or at least we pretend we don’t. Seeing how obviously people were joyfully helping each other shows how much we do still need our villages. Why does it take high winds, no power, and uprooted trees to remember that?

IMG_8398

 

 

The Truth

I am a Christian.  That may mean nothing to you. To me it means everything. I am a Christian in the sense that it truly defines me.  It defines me as much as the fact that I am Stacy. A female who was born to Max and Mary. A sister to Tony and Jason. A wife to Matt. A mom to Luke and Oliver. It is who I am and there is nothing in this world that can strip me away from who I am.

I understand how others view some Christians. Sometimes it is hard to live out the faith I feel because I fear rejection from others. I love people and I love when people like me. It will always be a struggle. I like peace and I love to connect with people. When someone I am close to (or was close to) starts attacking my faith, my very truth, sometimes I hide and other times I get angry and defensive. I am human.

Human. That about hits (actually slams) the nail on the head. I think most misunderstandings about Christians stem from the fact people forget we are human as well. You cannot separate the two. Humans are sinners whether they believe in God or not. Believers and non-believers are more alike than some Christians want to admit. That is where Christians need to change if they want others to see and feel their truth. Part of loving your neighbor as yourself has to start with seeing our common bonds. What separates us is not our lifestyle, our political beliefs, our morals, and definitely not our deeds. What separates us is our faith in Christ. It is in our knowing Jesus died on the cross for our sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

A few months back, I got a little down. I felt as though being a Christian nowadays was not as easy as it was before. So much has changed, even in the last few years. We are faced with issues we never had to unless it was an issue someone close was dealing with. You know, unless we were forced to. We could easily live our lives in our own little naive bubbles. Not anymore.

It has taken this last few months of praying, reading the Bible, and listening to differing opinions (which I love to do) to see what a great time it is to be a Christian. I was feeling fear over all the separation in our nation and between our brothers and sisters in Christ. Now all I feel is inspired. We are being forced out of our bubbles. We are being forced out of our church as a whole, out of our denominations, out of our individual churches. Everything is out in the air and our church doors cannot remain shut to them any longer.

I think we all got too comfortable. We all got too settled in our traditions, in our “style” of worship. Why should we even care about the style of worship. You know what I mean?  We stopped seeing and listening to each other. We got too busy counting the number of members and remembering who missed one Sunday morning that we stopped loving our neighbors-the ones sitting next to us in church and the ones who have never walked through the doors of our church. I think that has resulted in people permanently leaving the church and people choosing to never enter. Sad.

Like I said, we are being forced to face all of the issues we have ignored in the past. It is a good thing. Now we have a great opportunity. No, it is better than great. It is tremendous opportunity and really a responsibility (as well) to show the world what it really means to be a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N…and what it means to have C-H-R-I-S-T  in our H-E-A-R-T’S. We need to be the light of the world, not just the light in our bubbles.

Exciting, isn’t it?

image

My little old soul…

image

I’ve been a bit shaken up the last few days.  Our dog, who is very much a part of our family, almost died. There’s still a chance he will not recover. So far, though, he’s doing well and tolerating everything as well as could be expected.

Long story short, Ranger had a lot of different things going on. He was prescribed some anti inflammatory medicine and had severe adverse reactions to it. He ended up becoming septic and needed abdominal surgery. There are many more details I have left out, but that is the gist of it.

This morning, Oliver and I went up to see him.  Oliver wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up and so I had to explain what all the tubes and etc. were for. He was very careful with our dog and gently pet his head. Then he checked out the other dogs and asked different questions about them. He was simply fascinated with the entire Animal Hospital.

Once we got home, we talked more about Ranger and reminisced over some Ranger stories.  We looked at pictures. We smiled and laughed, but then my laughter turned to tears. I suddenly got overwhelmed and couldn’t help it.

My sweet Oliver looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Mommy, please don’t cry. Crying comes from fears you haven’t faced. Face your fear and pray. You need to pray, Mommy. That’s what you do.”

I shook my head. “How are you so wise at the age of four?”

Oliver just smiled. He amazes me. He is wise and kind and creative. At such a young age, he always points to God in the little and big things of life. My goodness, I love my little old soul.

image

 

 

 

My Garden

IMG_1821In this life, faith is a never ending journey. I love that it is. I reflect on where I was and where I am going…and I am astounded by the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord knows I could never have done any of this on my own. I try to peek through the present to imagine where I will be five years from now. Will I be where I am now?  Will I have taken a few steps back? Or will I be more mature than I could possibly imagine?

I feel as though I am currently in a lonely stage of my faith. Wait? Aren’t Christians supposed to walk alongside each other?  Yes, I believe we are. I also believe sometimes He sets us apart to be alone in our own Garden of Gethsemane. Our puny sense of garden can never compare to Jesus’.  Maybe, though, it goes to show our sufferings should bring us to our knees in thanksgiving and thus strengthen us for our own crosses we bear. Our crosses, in comparison to His, are like feathers gently tickling our backs.

This morning, I was driving to the gym.  I was exhausted from yesterday, a horribly stressful day. Our dog had a medical emergency and almost died. Seriously, we skipped church to take him to the emergency vet.  You know we do not take missing church lightly here in this household.  But, like my sweet Oliver said, “It’s okay we missed to church.  Ranger needed us to and that was more important this time.”  Our dog is stable as of right now, but boy oh boy talk about wiped!

Rein it back in, Stace.  

So, I was exhausted but forced myself to go workout. On my way, loose prayers were running through my head.  I saw a group of three ladies running along the path together and thought how nice it would be to have that in my life. So, I started praying for a good friend to come along in my life. I feel as though I need someone close by.  I am someone who loves people and friends, but more I love having that one friend. My introverted self needs that one friend to lean on. I especially miss that with my faith journey right now. I’ve missed that in my life for quite a while. I do have awesome friends and don’t feel lacking in love, it is just I sometimes need more closeness than a group can provide. Make sense?

I know, I’ll never be close to a true Garden of Gethsemane moment. Right now, though, I feel as close as I ever could or ever have in the past. I feel weight and it is making me tired.  I see people asleep. Just like Jesus wanted the disciples to be awake, I want people to rise from their slumber. He urged them to pray so they would not enter into temptation. He wanted what was best for them. He wanted the will of God to be done. But, they couldn’t carry it through at the time and fell asleep. He was only a stones throw away, but yet alone. He had to be.  I can feel His humanity in that moment, can’t you?

We aren’t all meant to be awake at the same times or in the same ways. Although, I do yearn for someone to connect with where I am in my journey, I realize it is okay to be alone sometimes. God knows why I must be.

The deity of Jesus separates me from ever relating to the full power of the garden. The cup he wanted taken from His hands, I can never feel the full weight of. What had to happen, no human could ever endure. It had to be the Son of God; it could only be the Son of God. I try to place myself in His journey, only a sliver I can feel.

By the grace of God, my garden is but a speck of dirt, my nails are merely annoying splinters, and my cross a feather. My garden is my time with God. It strengthens me for times in my journey I must go it alone. Well, not really alone because He is always wth me. Duh.

 

 

Rise and Love Through His Love

dsc_0135

I run to the masses. My march falls into the rhythms of this noisy world. The chaos consumes my weary soul. It never fails. I end up tripping over my own feet. So, I watch as the world marches on. I am left behind. I get lonely.

Then He reminds me…I am never alone.

I lie in His pasture. I bask in His presence. I soak up His peace. I build my strength. He tells me to rise. He tells me to go.

Again, I run to the masses. This time, I march to His beat. I am alongside the world, but not in its midst. His power works through me. I plant seeds. I am shade for those who need rest. I am whatever He needs me to be. I tell my story, I tell His story.

We will always fall, but His pasture is always there for us when we do. Because of His unfailing love, we have the strength to rise and love through His love.

Never Apart

The Word was once just a book to me.

It contained truth and knowledge.

It told me how to live and love.

It was something to study and put to practice.

And it was all good.

And it was all powerful.

But that all changed.

The words began to stir and come to life.

One by one they sharpened.

One by one they pierced my soul.

No longer did I want to depict the world’s eye view of it.

I saw the significance of the Law.

I saw the significance of the Gospel.

I saw how they can never be torn apart.

Because one with out the other is simply a pile of words.

It felt so black and white, and yet so gray.

It is all so black and white and yet so gray…

You can be doing it all right and still be wrong.

You can love and yet not know what real love is.

We are blessed with the grace bestowed upon us through His blood.

Without it, there is no salvation.

The Word allows us to see what grace is truly about.

It also opens our hearts to the law and changes us from within.

It is only with Him, not on our own, that we realize…

The Gospel without the Law is just a pile of words.

You or me without both are just a pile of flesh and bones.

It is the Law together with the Gospel that sets us apart from the world.

It is both.

 

Words

We need to stop believing in our own power to change people through our words, says a blogger who is using words right now. It is the truth, though. We depend too much on our own thoughts and opinions and our need to be right. Our emotions inevitably pull us away from the whole truth. We need to keep the power with the One who actually has it.

As Christians we have a duty to become wiser with our words. There are many verses on what our words do. I’m not saying we should pretend to be perfect. I’m not saying we cannot have opinions or feel passionate. With all that is happening politically it is hard not to. Yes, God works through us to reach others and yes through our words as well. We (myself included) just need to be more careful to ensure our words are doing what the scriptures tell our words to do…not what the scriptures tell our words not to do. Will we screw up at times? I don’t think I even need to answer that.

Look at all that is happening right now. Scroll through your Social Media newsfeed and see the debates between brothers and sisters in Christ. Then, think about it through the eyes of the enemy. If I were the enemy (Satan) I would be very pleased with how things are playing out right now. He knows the work of the church, bringing others to Christ, cannot be done fully when we are battling against each other.

We need to stop claiming to be more Christian than the other or that the other has hate in their heart-or that the other just doesn’t get it. Trust me, you don’t need to come straight out and say any of that outright. People know what you are implying…and sometimes they just think you are implying that. We cannot always prevent people from the latter, but we should be aware and sensitive.

We are wasting too much time trying to be right that we are missing the point of what is right.

Let’s take a stand by kneeling. We’ve all been standing too long. Am I the only one that is tired? Let’s trust God. Surely, prayer can change others and it can also change you. Let us pray more than we vent, pray more before we speak (even if it is the truth), and continue to do the work set out before us. It has to be better to give this to God. Because, pushing people away from the church over politics and emotions is devastating.