Friday, December 27, 2013

My words from the Memorial for my Mom

Mom was always quoting scripture, these were two of her favorites that came to mind this morning. 

This is the day that The Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. 

They that wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. 

Today we bury my mom.  She loved Jesus with all of her heart. She prayed for everyone she knew.  She believed that nothing was impossible with God.  She saw friends healed of tumors, she saw headaches and backaches disappear.  And now she has seen her own healing completed.  

Over and over growing up we would have a need and mom would pray and the need would be met. There were times we would come home to groceries on our porch, money in the mailbox, or the very item we had been praying about just sitting there.  I remember one time my mom wanted a new bible and for weeks she waited to see how God would provide it.  I don't remember how she got it now, but the point is that I watched her wait expectantly.

Shortly after she was saved at a Billy Graham crusade she believed The Lord was telling her to go to Alaska.  She packed her bags and went to Seatac.  She walked up to the counter and asked if anyone had paid for a ticket for her. Praying, she waited all day.  Later that evening she came home thinking perhaps her timing was off, but she never disbelieved God.

In 1984 God called her to go to YWAM for a Crossroads Discipleship Training school in Hawaii so we packed up and went! The trip was life changing for my brother and me. In the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, and Korea we saw raw poverty, orphans, Christians pulling together to serve and to pray. It was in the Philippines where I held a two year old baby the size of an infant that my heart for orphan care was born.  But we learned through that trip that nothing was impossible. We saw God provide financially over and over during that period of months in such a sweet way that built our faith in Christ. 

To say Mom was special would be a gross understatement.  When Mom read Gods word she believed it.  It wasn't a theological study for her or an academic practice, it was truth. Face value. She has a gift of faith and of everything Mom had, that's what I want, her faith, her childlike belief that God will do what His word says.  And a double portion please, God, give me her faith. 


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Authentic Community - Being Real with Y'all

Years ago Doug and I were in a small group weeknight bible study. Every week we shared our heart and our struggles as did others. At the time Doug was unemployed and we felt like the perpetual "needy ones". I remember one night when we decided not to share our struggle, put on a stiff upper lip, and just worship and listen to the study, then leave. After worship, with a worship leader who genuinely loved The Lord and loved people, they asked for prayer requests. Doug and I sat there with our pasted on smiles waiting for the moment to pass so we could move on. The worship leader's wife caught my eye and I quickly looked down. At that point she spoke up with compassion and tears in her eyes "Guys, we need to pray for Doug and Stacy. Can't you all see how much pain they're in and how they're trying to just be strong? The bible says to ask and keep on asking and so let's do that." She reminded us that in our weakness He is strong.

Months later in that same group the couple that were the "leaders" spoke up with a Praise report. Sharing that he had struggled for months and months with an issue with work to the point that he thought he would lose his job, he was relieved that it was all resolved now. 

What a ripoff. He never once invited anyone in. He wanted to be the strong one with all the answers. Honestly, it was pride. Shortly after that the worship leaders moved away and the group disintegrated. I realize there is value in choosing what to share with whom, however if you want true community, you have to be vulnerable and then let God deal with everyone's opinion.

This situation is one we have pondered many times over the years. It's what prompted us to share about feeling called to move to Washington and the subsequent decision to leave because of work and weather. 

We need each other. And let's be honest, we are all needy. Whether it's health or finances, secret sin or just tough life circumstances we are people in need of a savior journeying toward our eternal home where every need will be fulfilled. Let's not hide from each other. Be real.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's not called an ADVENTURE for nothin'!

It's not called an adventure for nothin'!

Having exhausted every avenue possible, we feel it is time to join the birds and head south for the winter. This decision may seem abrupt in light of our blog post last week; however we have prayed, listened, worshipped, and waited, as winter has crept up and the weather has dropped far colder than we're used to.

This week, my mom was admitted to the hospital, and since we had originally planned to be with them for Christmas this year, we have decided to head down there now.

"What's after Phoenix?" you ask.  We don't know. But we do know that the next several weeks will hold a beautiful celebration of Our Wonderful Savior's birth with my parents.  

God is good, all the time, even in the dark when we don't see the way. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankfulness Today

On this Thanksgiving Day my heart overflows with gratefulness to the God who loves me with an everlasting, enduring, conquering love. I'm thankful for so much, but here is a sampling of what is in my heart. 

Family - The ones God places closest to us to sharpen and soothe us, to challenge us and comfort. They bring us our greatest joys and deepest sorrows in life. Birth and death, success and failure, growing and changing are all interwoven in this vapor of family life. There's a reason God calls us His children, we are all in this family together.

Laughter and levity - Makes life both FUN and bearable. My husband makes me laugh more than anyone else. I love that man!

My treasured husband Doug - Adventuring, brave, confident, visionary and persistent man. His strength and leadership give me security and confidence. 

My kids - they are AMAZING. So many times they are the ones who pitch in taking up the slack for the sleepless nights. I treasure this time with them all under one roof because I truly believe the days are long, but the years are short. 

Emily - my organizing confidante and Starbucks and girl food buddy
Travis - my artistic, creative, playful young man, who is so good with younger sibs
Hannah - my burning star, full of life and passion
Natalie - my quiet helper
Abigail - my full of life and laughter baker-girl
Benjamin - my growing bundle of energy
Sarah - my snuggly, energetic, helper girl
Lily Anne - my growing talkative toddler
Caleb - my laughing, playful, nonsleeping, sweet snuggly boy

Friends - Relationships that enrich us bringing balance to our strengths and weaknesses. Having friends who are good listeners and who pray is a treasure, truly. They see me at my best and my worst and love me anyway. 

Anne - unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance and loyalty
Fiona - dependable, faithful, resourceful friend

GRACE - If there is one provision of The Lord I appreciate with all of my heart this would be it. Unmerited favor with The King, The Creator, My Dad God. I pray for more grace every single day. I pray that his GRACE would abound to me more and more and that I would, in turn show this grace to those around me. 

Renewal - a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life - If you've ever seen a picture of the brown, cracked, arid desert ground, you've seen what was me when we left Houston. When we arrived in Washington it started raining on my soul and has not stopped. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Prayer - Our way of communicating with God, talking with our Dad, thanksgiving, requests, and worship.

Change - Yes this is on my thankful list ;-) See, leopards do change their spots! I don't know that I'm the agent of change, but I'm learning to appreciate it more and more. I can get stuck, this trip has unstuck me in so many wayside I'm truly thankful for it.

Experience - Having lived long enough to see God work in the good times and bad gives me confidence in His character and trust in His timing even when it's different from mine. 

Finally, I'm thankful for time to write this morning, I don't always get it but when I do it's precious. I don't take it for granted!

Happy Thanksgiving Day my friends, maybe truly be thankful as we continue through this Christmas season to the One who gave all so we could abundantly live.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Big News from Washington...

God has brought about an amazing bend in the road of our Great Adventure.  Perhaps it’s a Divine Detour, however we are beginning to think it’s the Divine Destination.

When we started out on this adventure it was presumably to be out of our house in Houston so we could sell it and to do some traveling with our children before they grow up and out of the house. It would seem that God had bigger plans, like He always does. 

We have now been in Washington going on three months. When we arrived here it was intended to be a two week stay on our Great Adventure Trip.  That first Sunday here a good friend was the guest speaker at Victory Foursquare Church and we decided to go and heckle him from the back row, just for kicks.  What miraculously happened next none of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams.  God showed up.

From the first note of the first song Doug and I were touched.  I cried. I always do when the Holy Spirit is present.  And Doug was deeply moved.  During worship God was glorified visually, expressively through songs, flags, scripture and words.  The sermon, simple in its message, “God doesn’t just love you, He LIKES you” touched many of our children who have grown up in church in a way nothing else has.  God was beginning a work, or rather carrying on a work He started long, long ago.  After that service our heads and hearts were spinning. What was God up to? 

Over the next few weeks it would become abundantly clear.  Our family decided to stay and participate in an evangelistic drama called, “Judgment Day” which would take place each day the entire week leading up to Halloween.   Each night they performed their parts over and over in this “Walk-Through Adventure” telling the story of Christ visually and tangibly. A thousand people attended the drama that week and many lives were touched. During the months of September and October God showed our family through all sorts of signs and circumstances that He placed our family here for His purposes.

We’ve known all along God wants to use our family to reach other families for His Glory.  We were all called long, long ago to make disciples.  For the past seventeen years, we have been making disciples of nine special people.  It’s time to expand that calling.  God has done such an amazing work through his Holy Spirit and through the ministry of Pastor Steve at Victory Foursquare.  We are called to work here with these people now.  How long? We don’t know. But we know it’s here and now.  We don’t know HOW this will look.

After we committed to moving here, The Lord led us to this AMAZING house for sale.  Sitting on nearly six acres at the base of a mountain with a waterfall and creek literally in the backyard, this home provides the space we need for WHATEVER God desires for our family.  We want to make an offer.  However…

It’s that “however” that’s the wrench in the works.  Doug’s company has given him a deadline to be back in Houston.  We are convinced we are to relocate to Washington. So we wait.  Waiting on the Lord, resting on his promises, we live one day at a time not knowing what’s next, but trusting it will be GOOD!

If you have made it this far reading about the next phase of The Great Adventure you are a TRUE friend.  Please pray for us. 

1.  Pray for the mountain to move, the obstacles to our relocation to be gone completely.

2. Pray for us to have wisdom to navigate the holidays and coming weeks. 

3. Pray for MORE GRACE as we wait on His timing. 

Please text or call or just get in touch to say, “I’m praying.” It would be so encouraging!  We have more questions than answers right now.  And I will share on my blog when the answers are more plentiful, but for now I share trusting that you will pray.  We WILL miss you all... very much.  But I know that friends can stay friends over long distances and long periods of time.  And when we get this amazing house, we will have a place for you to stay when you come see us! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

There's More... How Great the Father's Love for Us

God is teaching me about His great, unconditional, crazy Father-Love for me. He uses my kids frequently to teach me these lessons and yesterday was no exception. He is so good!

Yesterday we went out to eat after church and at the restaurant there were some coloring pages and a few broken crayons.  We grabbed some for the kids and they started creating. 

Not three minutes later a waiter came by with a box of crayons.  Now this place is packed, the atmosphere is buzzing, and it's not like he had extra time on his hands.  He stopped by Lily Anne who is three and opened the box of 24 brilliant Crayolas in front of her. Holding them out, he offered,

"Would you like some new crayons?"

She smiled shyly and looked over at Doug and I.  We nodded approval and she picked two crayons, both shades of pink.

The waiter leaned in. still smiling, "There's more." He said.  Slowly Lily Anne picked a purple then a yellow.  I noticed the colors because they matched her shirt.  He grinned, "there's 24 crayons here, you're only down by six, you better get some more!" She methodically continued selecting crayons until she had about half the box.  Then she looked down gently patted her line of crayons and said simply, "Thank you." 

Oh to receive from our Father like Lily Anne received those crayons.  He says, "there's more!" He loves us with an everlasting love, like none we have ever known.  I don't know about you, but I want ALL the colors He has for me. 

Jeremiah 31:3

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What If God Was Big Enough? - Orphan Sunday, November 3, 2013

I wrote this poem January 4, 2013.  My husband had just blessed me with an amazing Christmas gift, a trip to Maria's Big House of Hope in China. I was taking it all in and God was speaking to my heart. My prayer is that He would speak to your heart today through His word to me eleven months ago. This is coming to pass in ways I cannot even begin to describe.


What if God Was Big Enough?

What if God was big enough
To conquer all my fears
To give me the desires of His heart
Throughout all my years.

What if God was big enough
To bring heaven down to earth
By making me His hands and feet
To show little ones their worth.

What if God could grow His love
So deep within my heart
So that what appears impossible
Is really just a start.

We will find those who've been abandoned
And show them His great love
And reach and touch and love and give
Until they know their God above.

God, be big enough
To complete the work you have begun
Give me faith and hope and peace

As we watch Your Will be done.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weary much? His Love Endures Forever!

Yesterday in church we sang, "Everlasting God," by Chris Tomlinson.  Part of the lyrics say, "You are the everlasting God, The everlasting God, You do not faint, You won't grow weary..."

As I sang those lyrics I thought about how many times I've whined about how weary I am with correcting certain attitudes in my kids, dealing with ongoing difficult circumstances, and of course my chronic sleeplessness.  I was struck with the line that God will not grow weary.  He won't grow weary in correcting me, in dealing with my weaknesses, or in showing me his everlasting love.

Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 

Praise be to our Great God!  I am so thankful for His love and mercy!

I am weak and can get irritable, fussy, just plain weary in all kinds of area of my life, but as I lean hard into The Lord, praying he will mold me to be more like Him I can have understanding, patience, and mercy with those whom God has placed close to me.  

As I read Psalm 136 I'm reminded TWENTY SIX times "His love endures forever!"

If you feel like God is fed up with you, He's not. X26

If you feel weary and heavy laden, He wants to give you His rest. X26

If you feel like you've messed up one too many times for forgiveness, you haven't. X26

He loves you.  He doesn't just tolerate you, He LIKES you!!!  

Believe it!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Happy Fall Y'all!

It's been a number of years since I experienced a real autumn.  Since we are in the beautiful Pacific Northwest we got a chance to play in the leaves and experience the glorious reds, yellows, oranges, and purples of Fall.  

My kids are loving it! They are making Leaf Angels!

And burying the babies in leaves...

And throwing leaves on each other...

... And on themselves!

Sharing these fun fall activities with my kids is just the best. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Of Memories and Mukilteo Beach

Many of you know that although I claim Texas as home now, I didn't grow up there. I grew up in Everett, Washington where I went to Mukilteo Beach frequently.  The water was cold, the air was salty, and the rocky beach was my playground.  As I got older, sunbathing was preferable to swimming, but only a few days were warm and sunny enough for that.  When Doug and I were first married and lived in Washington, going to Mukilteo beach for a rare sunny afternoon picnic or an evening stroll during sunset was a cheap and most enjoyable date.  Sharing this special place with our kids is something I eagerly anticipated. 

Forewarning my children that this was not like other beaches we have experienced, we would not be swimming, and it was rocky rather than sandy, I encouraged them to consider this outing as a rocky hike beside the water. 

I was afraid they were going to be disappointed because to them, the point of going to the beach is to swim. However, they did a great job of adjusting their expectations and what a spectacular time we enjoyed. 

As I watched my kids marvel at clams spitting, salmon jumping, seals swimming, feathers falling, gulls flying, ferries sailing, and crabs scurrying I felt so full in my heart.  Not to mention I overflowed with gratefulness for the amazing Marine Biology exhibition we experienced!  This is what learning should be!  

My Hannah embraced the opportunity to show the beach to her baby brother carrying and bouncing him along the rocky shore.

Since we were there at low tide, the water was out exposing all kinds of marine life.  Travis loved the tide pools and the marine life we observed, showing his findings to his little sisters with delight. 

While Travis attempted to rescue a starfish, 
Caleb rescued a ROCK!

Some us thought the beach was cold...

And smelly!

But they did enjoy jumping from log to log just like me so many years ago. We would try to walk as far down the beach as we could on the logs and drift wood without stepping on the ground.

I so enjoyed showing the kids The Lighthouse which was built in 1905 and used an oil lamp until the 1930s when it was converted to electricity. The flashing pattern three seconds off, two seconds on is unique, like a fingerprint, for the Mukilteo lighthouse.  

A kind woman offered to take our group picture, you'll notice Doug and Emily are missing.  They were working yesterday. 

So we made a special trip down to the beach this morning just the three of us , after a stop at Big Foot Java for lattes. 

I just love the fact that I was able to share this place with my kids so many years later.  It will be one of the fondest memories of this Great Adventure, I'm sure.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I've Learned on the Road - Guest Post by my Daughter Emily

Today's post is my first Guest Post.  My 17-year-old daughter Emily journaled some of her thoughts about our four months on the road and it's just too good not to share with the world! 

From My Emily:
I haven’t written much about our trip.
Mostly because I’ve been living, in a richer and scarier way than ever before.

Not knowing where I’m going to be living next week is scary. Not knowing what might happen in the next three days is scary. Not knowing my surroundings is scary. Not knowing if my cell phone and wifi will work at my next temporary home is scary. Knowing I won’t hug my best friends for at least six months is scary. Knowing I won’t have a house when I enter the Lone Star State is scary.

I’ve traded those securities for a life full of things I will probably never get a chance to do or see again.

I have jumped in the current of a lake carved by lava thousands of years ago in Firehole Canyon, Wyoming.  I have climbed a mountain (albeit it was a small one, but still!!). I have stood by with huge eyes as a buffalo walked five feet in front of me in Montana.

I have seen purple lightning strike right next to a vivid rainbow in Wyoming's blood-red sky. I have laughed until I cried under the stars of Tennessee with my brother. I have seen an arm of the Milky Way in Wisconsin. I have seen the sun rise over Lake Michigan and swam in its freezing embrace. I have seen mud bubbling out of the earth’s belly and Old Faithful bursting out in astonishing glory in Yellowstone Park. Zip-lined through the Indiana woods, six feet off the ground as branches whipped my legs. 

I have walked through the Creation Museum’s startlingly lifelike version of Eden, a place I have longed for and wondered about my entire life. Hiked through the wooded hills of Indiana. Watched the Nolichucky river rapids sweep over boulders like a crashing, mad stampede. Seen glaciers for the very first time in Montana. Slept under shooting stars in Washington. Bogged for crawdads in Montana. Ate at the original KFC. Stepped into Texan dinosaur footprints that dwarfed my size-10 foot. Seen moonlight shining through Arkansas’ fog. Eaten sweet wild mulberries right off a tree in both Indiana and Tennesee. 
Walked over ground that Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my heroes, regularly treaded on in De Smet, South Dakota. Screamed on roller coasters I was dragged on at the Mall of America. Ridden a horse (without assistance!) through a Tennessee wood. Driven just feet from the edge of a cliff in Glacier Park. Sat stone-still in the van as huge bighorn sheep rushed past us in the parking lot.

I’ve learned:

·         that you never drink out of still water. Pick clear, quickly-moving water.
·         that purification and lavender oil smell really good combined
·         I don’t *need* Starbucks every week (now it’s much more of a treat than it ever was!)
·         what reasonable propane costs are
·         how to assemble a campground in less than a half hour

that apples and avocados ripen each other very quickly
·         fig bars go amazingly well with coffee
·         hot showers are a luxury and not a necessity
     how to elevate a camper
·         how to set up five beds in ten minutes
·         you don’t have to have a silent environment to write or work
          you don’t NEED to download the new Skillet album the DAY it comes out
·         baking soda and lavender draw out infection
·         how to wash a full dishload by hand in 20 minutes (paper plates are my best friend!)
·          and many, many other little tips and tricks I never would have had to learn outside of my current lifestyle.


 Not to mention the household things I’ve learned. I’ve been using a lot of essential oils, which are now my go-to medicines: mint really helps headaches and girl cramps and PanAway helps with stressed or strained muscles and knots! I’ve learned how to cook large meals on a foot-wide stove or over a fire. When Mom was gone in China for a week, I got a taste of what she goes through every day of her life. 

I think the most difficult things for me to master have all been internal. I never thought of myself as selfish, materialistic, or vain, but when we moved into my moving home, my supposed good virtues got a prompt smack in the face. Learning to get along with ten other people in limited space has required a lot of dying to self, patience, and biting my tongue till it hurts, even if I’m 99% sure I’m right. Letting go of most of my earthly possessions was harder than I thought, but four months later, I’m starting to forget I actually have more stuff in storage (most of which will probably be given away!) Having just a few feet to primp and preen has been embarrassingly rough, actually. I used to spend an excessive amount of time on how I looked, curling or straightening my hair or painting eyeliner wings. Getting over having noisy bunk mates is still being mastered, but I’ve found wearing a smile and staying quiet is in the best interest for everyone.

Being cautious and careful with money is a new thing for me. Sure, I might have watched my account back home, but I also had three jobs that ensured I would always be comfortably topped off. Now, most of my money is either for things I actually NEED or an occasional treat. Imagine that!!

I feel as if I was in a comfortable, safe dream, and then was whisked away to a foreign and frightening world that was all the same beautiful and breathtaking, a world that very suddenly ripped off dross and revealed gorgeous gold beneath, however painful it was.
I’m still in the refiner’s fire and am still learning every day, like my brother learning how to walk. My legs are shaky and nervous, but I want to see what else is out there, and walk into the rest of God’s world I haven’t yet laid eyes on. 

Emily, I'm so proud of you.  I'm proud of the way you think of others. I'm proud of the way you have embraced change.  I'm proud of the way you have chosen to see things through new eyes when you could have just chosen to bide your time until we got home.  I'm proud of the growth and maturity I see in you.  Phil 1:6 makes me think of you, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to carry it on to completion in Christ Jesus."