Thursday, March 5, 2015

Do You Know Your Personal Trainer?

I used to be a runner (well maybe more like a jogger).  I've done a few 5k races and even completed a 10k once.  I really enjoy the idea of running... even though I am not a natural runner.  I see graceful people running.  Natural runners.  They look like their feet barely hit the ground.  They are light in movement and free!  That idea of freedom is what I love most about the idea of running.

It occurs to me however that there are different types of runners.  Those who when their feet hit the ground are off to see what lies around the next bend and are ready to face whatever obstacle might be there.

And then,  there are treadmill runners.  They jump on and run, run, run.  They feel accomplished. They work and work, they get exercise, but their efforts never actually move them from their starting point. They never experience anything new.

Of course there are real runners and then there are metaphoric runners.

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (freedom)." - 2 Corinthians 3:17

Have you ever been there?  I know I have.  Running, running, trying, pushing, hoping to move forward (or at least I thought) only to find myself in the same place over and over again.  No change of scenery, nothing new.  Just trudging along waiting for the anticipated results.  The only problem, the longer I ran on the treadmill, the more bored I would get.  My muscles would get bored too.  They would get into a routine, get comfortable and stop advancing.  Eventually, in my on-and-off again treadmill experience I would give up.  Not much of a change, frustrated, standing in the same place I started.

Then I would realize:  What was the only thing keeping me there? ME!

I would get outside.  Get into a new way of thinking, start using different muscles, completely changing what I had been doing, and sure enough...Success!  A different outcome! Freedom!

I have been in this situation as both a physical runner and as a Christian.

In both situations the one and only thing that could change the outcome was ME! (or at least take that first step)

As a Christian, we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit to rely on.  We are not alone in our quest for the finish line.  We have a guide, a helper, a personal trainer shall I say.  All we have to do is get off our treadmill and ask Him for help.

John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things....."

If you feel like you have been on a treadmill, working, striving, trudging along and getting no where,  you have two positions to take; drop to your knees and ask your personal trainer for help or look to the heavens and ask you personal trainer for help.  Either way...Ask Him and truly desire to change your routine.  He is waiting for you to decide to get off the treadmill and embrace the freedom that He has for you.

In Love-

Monday, December 29, 2014

Who's The Winner?

Is our sin less sinful than someone else's sin?

I think of this often.  Some times it is when examining my own actions, thoughts or words. (yes...our thoughts alone can be sinful) And some times it is when I see others in action.

It is a temptation of the flesh for sure to lambaste an "offender" with "truth" or our interpretation of the the truth.  It is a temptation of the flesh to run to the rescue and take sides, showing our allegiance to the victim.  It is our human nature to want to be right, to want to be on the winning side, to want to show support and show our disapproval of the offenders actions.  We want to make sure justice is served. (whatever that looks like in our own mind)

I have to say, this is a battle that most of us face.  The more people we know, the more opportunities we will have to battle this one out within ourselves.  As the pastor of our church recently said, "It's difficult for us to get 6 people to be in one accord at the dinner table." But do we want to be the one that continues to move forward with the strife and contention adding fuel to the fire or do we want to be the ones that show the Fruits of the Spirit;  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  (forbearance is a great one...take a look at what it actually means)

The written word of God says in Ephesians 6:12:  "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  

Unfortunately for us, we all allow ourselves to act in a fleshly way that demonstrates a sinful nature from time to time.  There is hope however!  I trust that the Lord is working in all of His children who seek Him and through that, we will be transformed into the image of Him.

I once heard someone say, "most battles are won in the prayer closet."  I like this.  This is what makes my heart jump.  Our chance to be a prayer warrior, a member of the special forces, some of the elite.  Some of the most powerful and effective warriors execute their missions behind the scenes while no one is looking.  They don't draw attention to their efforts and BAM!! The battle is won because they fought a battle with knowledge and wisdom. They don't need to be "known" as the winning team...they just know they are part of the winning team.

Our knowledge and wisdom comes from Him, His Word and the Holy Spirit.  My prayer is that we all desire to become part of the elite, special forces, that win battle through prayer and not our fleshly desire to prove that we are on the winning team.  If you have proclaimed Jesus Christ as your Lord and are already on the winning team!

Lord help us all to live in a way that glorifies Your Name.  You are our vindicator, our redeemer, the Savior of the world.  You have overcome not just for our sins, but the sins of all of Your children!

In Love-Staci

Friday, December 26, 2014

His Gift To Me

As I stood in the rain, in the early morning hours before anyone had risen, I was reminded that it was the day we celebrated His birth.

As I dropped to my knees on the muddy ground, in sincerest humility, with a broken and contrite spirit, I was reminded that He loves us in that moment.

As I cried out to Him,  deep guttural cries that were from the deepest parts of my soul. I was reminded of how He knows my heart.  He knows my true heart.

As I stood with my head buried in my husbands chest, the two of us spending a tender moment before the Lord, I was reminded of where my safety lies, with whom I should trust all my heart and with whom I should find need to please.

As I spent time with my family on Christmas day, I was reminded of how much I love them all.  Not just the good parts, but all of them.

His day, Christmas day, the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ was far from a normal Christmas.  It was far from the joyous day that I had in my mind that it should have been.  Parts were beautiful, parts where joyous, parts where loving.  But parts were spent examining a broken heart.  Parts were spent wondering why I had returned to a place  that I have been before.  Why am I here again Lord?  What have a missed? Why have a let the words of another, who doesn't know my heart, who doesn't know my motives, and who doesn't have any idea what the Lord has been doing in me lately have the power to injure my heart like this?

I suspect I am not the only one who has ever been here.  Maybe not on Christmas day.  But some other day...maybe more than once.

I am thankful that today has been a new day.  I am thankful that today He has given me answers to some of my questions.  He is still working in me and boy does He have His hands full.  But I trust that He won't give up. He has given me peace.

He has given me two words to meditate on; "for Him."  (I suspect they will help heal my heart in some way, because He is so good like that)

>When it lines up with His order, I must submit to others even if I believe with all my heart that they are wrong..."for Him."

>I must love others, not in a worldly way, but in a way that protects my heart and still loves them, all of them..."for Him."

>I must continue using the gifts He has given me even when the flesh disagrees..."for Him."

The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ was and is the best gift that I will ever receive.  It was the ultimate sacrifice.  He died so that I may live.

He is showing me, that my sacrifice comes in the form of living "for Him." It is a sacrifice, because the flesh, our human nature, so desperately wants live for us.  But when we sacrifice our entire person "for Him", He is pleased.

I pray that as I live each day, moving forward in what He asks of me, that I will do it "for Him", that He will continue working in me and that some day I will hear Him call me His good and faithful servant.  I know one thing for sure...He will heal my heart because His sacrifice was for me, all of me.

-In Love, Staci

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"You've got the wrong girl!"

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been in a situation where you thought surely there was mistaken identity? Have you ever been in a place where the Lord has asked you to do something and you were pretty sure He must be mistaken? Because how could you possibly do what He is asking of you? 

This has been my life lately.  God has asked some pretty outrageous things of me. The first He asked, I simply said, "yes Father" and did what He said. (I got rid of most of my clothes, see my previous blog )

Secondly,  He revealed to me in scripture something that I had read multiple times before and never "read" what He was actually saying.  I had previously read and accepted only what I wanted the words to say.  When He gave me revelation into 1 Corinthians 11 and then continued bombarding me with His truth through other scripture, through the Holy Spirit and through other sisters in Christ, I knew what I must do.  I began covering my head over a month ago.  It is only through His request and His strength that I have been able to do what He has asked of me.

I knew He wasn't done with me.  I know He is still not done with me.  But now...what I believe He is asking is more intense (for me).  He is asking me to give up something even more worldly than my beloved blue jeans.  He is asking me to give up something that has been a part of my daily life since I was at least 14 years old.  (for those of you keeping track; that is for the last 34 years of my life!)  I know what His word says on painting of the eyes.  It is in His written word many, many times.  (Jeremiah 4:30, Ezekiel 23:40, 2 Kings 9:30 to name a few) I have read these words many a time and I have seen what I wanted to see.  He is now showing me what "He" wants me to see.  He is reminding me that I have been created in His image. (Genesis 1:27)  He is reminding me that to question the way He created me and to "make it better" with make-up is, well...just not how it should be. (Romans 9:21,  Isaiah 45:9 and Isaiah 64:8)  He is being relentless in His courtship for me to return to the way He created me to be.

I must confess.  This Is Hard!  I know that there are millions of woman and girls out there who have never worn make-up a day in their life.  I look at them and see how beautiful they are.  I admire them. One of my most precious sisters in Christ does not wear make-up to honor her husbands request and she indeed is beautiful.  I see this, I know this, I get this.  But God..."You've got the wrong girl!"

I started thinking about Moses.  (not that I am comparing myself to Moses, just what was going through Moses head when the Lord in the burning bush asked him to do something above and beyond his fleshly capabilities)  I started thinking..."I know how Moses felt!"  Why does this have to be me?  Why do you need me to make a stand in this way?  Who am I going to effect?  It's just me God, just me."

I share this with all of you to show you where my heart is and to show you the amazing Father we have in heaven.

As I continue to struggle with this sacrifice of fleshly desire that He is asking me to give up, I have been asking Him for "signs".  You make sure that I really am hearing from Him and that I have just not all of a sudden decided to give up a major part of my life because I need a change. (note the sarcasm) For days I have asked Him for a sign, for signs, for words, for confirmation.  And yesterday, what I received was a very loving message from a sister in Christ who said, "It is better to believe and trust the voice of the Lord, then to ask for a sign of confirmation. The confirmation is in His word and the confirmation is in the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The need of a sign to confirm what He is saying is just our fleshly reservation to move forward with what we know is Truth. And in the end...that is rebellion." Ouch!!  

After this spirit led message. I accepted what I must do.  I didn't commit to when I was actually going to stop wearing make-up, but in my heart, I have accepted that I know it is coming.

Sometimes...I believe...that all our Father in Heaven wants to see is a change in heart.  He knows where we will go from there.  A change of heart is acceptance for Him. He showed me this today on my way to work.  (Keep in mind all of this Moses talk in my head was yesterday.)

Today on my way to work, there was a comedian on my favorite Christian radio station Positivefm. Do you know what his little skit was on?  MOSES!!!  Yes!  Moses and the burning bush! Moses and his thoughts of "why me Lord!"  As I listened, hot tears ran down my face.  As I listened, I heard more than this little skit.  What I heard was, "Because I love you so much, I want you to know that you really are hearing from Me and I want you to know that I love the fact that you are willing to completely change back from who you have become to who I created you to be.  Just to please Me!"

I share this because I want to encourage any of you.  If our Father in Heaven has been beckoning to you, courting you, wooing you to turn back from the worldly things and turn back to who He created you to be; you can do it.  It is going to be hard, but you can do it.  He is right there waiting and wanting, loving on you every moment.

Please feel free to share in the comments if you have made it through this.  If you are in the middle of this journey right now or if He is beckoning you as we speak.  I would love to hear where you are at.

In love- Staci

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Window Shopping, On-Line Shopping or Just a Plain Ol' Shopping Frenzy!

With the birth of our Lord and Savior being celebrated in just a few weeks, the retail stores are swamped, many wallets are empty and many heads hurt with the thought of "I hope I can find that one special gift."

I wanted to give some tips, some advice, some wisdom on shopping.  Whether it is this time of year or any other time.  

1.  Don't go window shopping until you actually are prepared to purchase.  It is a waste of time.  What you are seeing in the window will change by the time you are ready to make the commitment. Your taste may change, how much you are willing to spend may change, and in reality.  If you aren't ready to buy, there are better things you could be doing with your time.  

2.  On-line Shopping:  it's  a trap!  That's right.  It looks innocent, it looks like fun.  What harm is there  in "just looking?" Everyone has their own online store, selling their own goods at super cheap prices.  You can shop in the privacy (secrecy) of your own home and no one will know. Except!   The Internet is full of scams, people ready to take advantage   of you and there really is No Secrecy with the Internet.  Once you have checked out  what's being sold or you have tried to sell something, anyone can see it.

3.  Plain Ol' Shopping Frenzy.  Yes, this is common, but don't fall into the temptation.  You can't have it all.  You can't afford it all.  You don't need it all and you really are not             equipped enough to handle the responsibility of what it all can bring.  Make a list.  Pray over your list.  Wait until you are positive that you are ready to purchase and then keep your eyes open for "just that one special gift."  It will be worth the wait!

Ok.  Some of you may have guessed that I might not exactly be talking about Christmas shopping.  I might actually be talking to the single people out there.  Most specifically the young ladies who so desperately seek a boyfriend and all of the perceived love, comfort and attention that will come from a boyfriend.  I know it's hard not to "shop".  But I can assure you this.  If you have trusted the Lord with your life.  Then also trust in Him to bring you the spouse He has for you when the time comes.  If you are not planning on getting married in the near future, why even be on the look out. 

My husband once told me that a young man that we knew had told him, "I'm not even interested in dating until I am interested in being married."  My goodness!!!  What wisdom in that statement.  

So to all of you who are so desperately shopping.  Take some time to think about what is most important this season, who should be at the center of this season, Christ Jesus.  Give Him a list of what you desire to find.  (He already knows actually) (And He already knows what you "need.") Stop stressing, stop checking out all of the sales and most importantly don't put yourself out there for sale.  

You are worth that one special gift that He has for you.  Trust in Him.  He has given you the best gift already.  Be patient and know that your order has already been placed and the special gift is being created and on it's way to you! 

 Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-In Love, Staci

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Better Part or The Worse Part

When my children were young I worked a retail job.  I was with the public all of the time.  When I didn't have a customer in front of me, I had a co-worker in front of me.  I was nice, I was happy, I was helpful and chipper.  I was a great person to be around.  Just ask anyone I worked with.  I was Associate of the Month one month.  I received the privilege of parking the the very front parking spot for the whole month.  Next thing I new, I was Associate of the Year.  Oh yeah!  That's right!  You know it! A front row parking spot for the ENTIRE YEAR!

Yes!  That person was me.

At least while I was at work.

When I came home, I was tired both physically and mentally.  I had been "on" all day.  I had answered every dumb question in the book, had listened to customers and co-workers complain, had kept a smile plastered on my face and a spring in my step and I didn't have the energy to do it at home too.  I wanted to, I just didn't have it in me.

Now don't get me wrong.  It isn't like I was an ogre at home.  I was still loving to those I loved, I still was the best I could be.  But my point is...I wasn't giving them the "better part", they were getting what was left over.  This was not right of me.  It was dead wrong.  I came to this realization many years ago.  I have repented, learned and moved on.


On my way to work one day this week I was having a conversation with my Father in Heaven.  He sure does know how to take the conversations in the direction He wants to go.  Perhaps He does this when He knows I am listening.  He has been working on me in the areas of being a Godly wife in many, many different ways.  I know that they all lead to the same place, but He is really approaching my role as a woman and wife from so many different directions, most days I have to stop and wonder why I have never thought of any of these things before.  I have been married for more of my life than I have not been married; you would think I would have a handle on some of this by now.

Our discussion this particular day went something like this.  Holy Spirit, "you understand how I have been teaching you to dress more like a woman, to cover your hair as my Word says to and also as a gift to your husband?"  (1 Corinthians 11:15 "But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her")  I agreed: I do recognize what He has been showing me.

He has been showing me that I should desire to keep the most precious parts of me strictly for God Himself and my husband.  My hair is my glory...a special part.  But I will save this topic for another post.  I digress...

I acknowledged what the Holy Spirit was saying to me and He then moved on.  He said, "you know, your husband deserves the best of you too."  And then He began to give me examples of how I give others "the better" and my husband gets "the worse".

1.  I spend time doing my hair in the morning to go to work or church so that I look appropriate for "other people."  Then I come home and my hair goes up in a knotted bun or doesn't even get brushed.  (of course this has recently changed)

2. I dress appropriately taking time each night or day to figure out what I will wear to look acceptable to "other people."  Then I get home and change into sweatpants, oversize shirt, mismatched socks, etc.  (Please Tell Me This Sounds Familiar!)  What a beautiful look for my husband.  NOT!!

3. I put perfume on in the morning so that at least I can start the day off smelling good.  Then when I get home, maybe I still smell good or maybe not.  But I certainly don't "freshen up" just for my husband.  

Yes! This is the kind of conversation that my Father in Heaven likes to have with me.  Pretty straight forward.  Pretty clear.  Even a simple girl like myself can understand it.  

Things are changing in me.  In turn they will be changing for my husband.  He will indeed have "the better" part of me.  And in turn, I will know that I am being obedient to the Lord and more loving towards my husband.  And I will receive peace knowing that I have listened and acted, not out of obligation, but out of an obedient heart.  

-In Love, Staci

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More Than Meets The Eye

"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light." - Helen Keller

I have been learning a lot about myself lately.  Learning to trust Him more, learning to seek Him in a different way, learning to have faith in a different way.  

I have considered myself to have faith in Him for a long time now.  I do trust in Him and His ways, I do desire His will for my life and I do know that what ever He has planned for me is way better than what ever I could ever imagine.  (His word says so.) 

Recently, I have been spending more time in His word, looking with a different set of eyes.  I can tell you that I have changed, but it is not because I desired to change.  (I'm actually pretty happy just being me)  The change has come only because I want to be obedient to Him.  Through my heart of obedience, I have given Him permission and free reign to shape me as He desires.  

As I continue to meditate on His word, my reaction and the changes that are taking place in me for Him,  He showed me that my reactions to His words are an act of faith.  For much of what I am seeing in His words, I don't fully understand.  I can read the word, I can see the words, I can understand the grammar;   and yes, I understand what the words say.  But I don't understand the depth yet in it's fullness.  

He is showing me how I am simply acknowledging His word as truth.  All of it! That I am not just reading the words in His word and letting my brain skip right over them as if they don't apply.  But that what He is showing me in His word, I am taking to heart and simply doing what it says.  Even the things that go against everything I know.  The things that people are going to question me on and the things that people are going to want to debate.  He has assured me through His word, through the Holy Spirit and through the confirmation of a sister in Christ who walked up to me, hugged me and simply said, "Stay strong", that His strength is what I will need to walk in faith and His strength has been graciously given to me.  

I am thankful for a Father that is showing me how my obedience to Him is not only growing my relationship with Him, but my relationship with my husband as well.  My obedience is changing the way I look at myself and the way I conduct myself.  He is showing me how His strength is what I need to rely on not my own.  I am thankful to be gently in His hands each and every day.  And I am thankful for the freedom in my heart to walk in faith.

_-In Love, Staci