Relentless

Stacee - March 23He left His Father and perfect home to come down to earth. He healed people, and He sat with those no one sat with and He forgave. He was misunderstood and judged and sentenced to death on a rugged and heavy cross. He died on that cross after a brutal beating, and He did not blame you and me. He knew what our sins would be, and He still rose again. He loves us and seeks after us. This is what I call relentless. This is Jesus. The word relentless is an adjective meaning to show intensity, strength; unrelenting (Webster dictionary.) It is persistent, constant, nonstop, endless. This is the description of God’s love for you, and for me, and no one knows us better.

God is persistent in His pursuit for the heart of His people. He is actively and tirelessly working in our world to seek and to save those who are lost. He never grows weary of being the only hope that is unshakeable.

This word, nevertheless, did not come to my mind initially today, in the context I just shared with you. I’d been making beds and putting stuffed animals in their specific spots, fluffing pillows, and listening to the enemy. He was yelling in my head about how disappointed God must be in me and my life and, without knowing God, I would have easily agreed with his lies.  It’s awful though! This kind of relentlessness God never intended for anyone and yet the enemy schemes like this in many lives.

As I sit with and listen to others I realize this relentless emotional abuse from the enemy can be status quo.   I want more than anything, to experience God in the way He intends because He is intense about us and I’m getting there. But I can be relentless toward myself and the truth is, I can forgive others who may have been negative toward me and yet not forgive myself.  It’s a tough way to go about the day, isn’t it?  And yet many of you can identify, if you are honest with yourself and with God.

I forget that God is not disappointed in me for struggling. I forget that nothing can separate me from His love. I forget that He died for me too, knowing I was going to hurt through an eating disorder that is so controversial and depression that is so conflicting. It can be devastating and yet God does not leave.  He is anything but confused about who I am in Him.

When Jesus came to earth He was fully God and fully man. He had the same temptations we experience, but He did not sin. He knew, nevertheless, that given the same situations, we would sin. The fact is, we need to know that He has gone through pain, joy, anguish, laughter, love, and death here on this earth in order for us to trust Him…to identify with Him.  If He wouldn’t have, we would’ve said that He just doesn’t understand what we face…what we experience. Because of our sin here on earth, we need His forgiveness. It takes down the wall between Him and us and puts a wall between the enemy and us so that there is peace and life. His death on the cross is our life. Because on the third day He rose again, we serve a living and breathing God that is relentlessly seeking relationship with us.

So…when the enemy is yelling at us, what’s the plan? Go to where Jesus is. He is on the high road, and we are to join Him there. The other path leads to sin and death. But He is eternal life. “…I have called you to live ever so closely with Me, soaking in My presence, living in My peace” (Jesus Calling).  Don’t you want that? I do, but a life of turbulence can feel so much more deserved and therefore comfortable. This should not be! I need to always be on a different path as a follower of my living God, and to go wherever He leads. This is relentless living! The opposite of relentless is apathetic and lazy - letting the enemy yell in my head and agreeing.

Letting Jesus set the pace in our race is trust. God’s word goes like this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Readers usually stop there, but check out the second part of these verses. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all you heart. I will be found by you.” Jeremiah writes this in chapter 29.11-14. This is relentless living!

Please join me in changing the meaning of this word to what God intends for it to be: seeking the truth without end and not letting the lies that seep in through quiet alone moments.   That, my friend, is a step closer in obedience. This is purposeful living which cultivates endless hope!

Love to you,

Stacee

Valley Girl

Stacee - Feb 16..."rest snugly in My everlasting arms. I do not despise your weakness, My child. Actually, it draws Me closer to you, because weakness stirs up My compassion-My yearning to help. Accept yourself in your weariness, knowing that I understand how difficult your journey has been. Do not compare yourself with others who seem to skip along life-path with ease." …"I have gifted you with fragility providing opportunities for your spirit to blossom in My Presence.” -Sarah Young, Jesus Calling It’s precious to God for you and me to need Him.

I’m not the kind of “valley girl” you may be thinking of, although I have lived in Cali, so please stay with me here! God keeps me close because I am so quick to try the self-sufficient game. So, let me ask you … can you remember a time when your situation felt so grim that you truly felt like there was no way God could be near? Is that time now? Maybe you’ve had one trial after another occur, almost to the point of embarrassment? I get it…thus the necessity for the opening quote! We are going to be okay though! I believe this because of these truths which stem from these words in Isaiah 54.10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

When the “mountains are shaken” in our lives, and you and I know we are not living on a “mountaintop”, our hearts can feel like they’re in “the valley.” A low place. Let me tell you something about the valley. Being in the valley doesn’t mean you are disobeying God and therefore you don’t get to be with those on high. Valley’s have creeks to walk in until we get stronger; streams to drink from that help us regain our health; and trees to practice climbing through to see the truth. Valleys are God-made practice grounds for us to grow until He places us on the mountaintop to glory in His victory.

I have found myself to be primarily a “valley girl.”  It’s not on purpose, but I have noticed that even though mountains, when climbed to the top, are amazing and beautiful, the journey through the valley is where the lessons are.  There weakness is seen as a good thing by God, the path you and I have been on is treated carefully and validated as being flat out hard, and God in His utter compassion draws near. When I am on the mountain top and my mind isn’t hurting with depression, and my bites of food aren’t as difficult, strangely enough, I miss the valley. In my weakness, He is made strong, and it’s all about Him. I. Like. That.

If you and I are never in the depth of the valley to learn and grow closer to our Father, the mountain and all of its views will not be desired. God is in both places.

Are you in the valley? Please don’t be embarrassed. There is no shame in being teachable. When I compare my journey to another’s path, I’m doubting that God has my very best interest at heart. God is the lifter of our head…in our fragile state He is teaching us to long for our spirit to blossom “in His presence.” This…He wants to share with us! God is not a bully who pushes us further down into the ground. And there is no shame, my friend, in being a “valley girl” when God is working His way in my life, and yours!

Father God, thank you for using the valley to teach us obedience and make us strong for the continued journey to come. You know what each of us need. Thank you that anyplace we are with you is worth the stay until you move us to the next place. Thank you that we do not have any reason to be embarrassed about what others may think about where you have us when we are in Your care. Please help us to accept your help and your love and your compassion as the gift You made it to be. In Jesus’ name…Amen.

Love,

Stacee

These Seven Words

Stacee January 2016My little feet shifted in my school shoes as I walked up one stair, then two…three steps, then four. There were endless stairs leading up to the school I attended when I was in first grade. The building sat on a large hill and to finally reach the front doors seemed like more of a commitment than I wanted to agree to. I didn’t want to go to school. I mean, I had friends and liked my teacher and liked to learn, but to go meant leaving my parents. There were problems at home. Kids don’t miss a thing. Their perception of the world around them is broad and hopeful. No matter what is going on in the walls of their house, however, it’s my conviction and experience, that they will protect the ones who they call mom and dad to the bitter end, or at least one of them…no matter what.

I don’t write about my childhood as a rule usually, but this day, it’s for a reason that brings about an important lesson. God blessed me with 2 hard-working people who I have as parents and I have always adored them…no matter what. My heart is to bring them respect and let God have the glory for the few things I will say in order to help me get the point across.

I didn’t just walk up the steps of my school. It was with careful intention that I took each stair. I wanted to stay home because if I stayed home I thought I’d be able to make things better and if I was away, things wouldn’t go so well. Every home has its problems and obstacles, but I wanted to fix ours so I could go to school and not be worried. My stomach would inevitably hurt every morning, and I knew why and so did my mom and dad. I just wanted things to be good… happy… stable. I obviously had to go to school. I had missed the maximum amount of days already, so my mom taught me words that were more than just that. Simple words that gain deeper meaning with each year that I grow older. These words pointed me to God, not my situation…not my fears.

Before I would get out of the car, there were tears and long wet red strands of hair covering my face and a few final pleas with my mom to let me go back home with her and help her do chores and visit. “I’ll be extra good and we’ll have fun!” I’d say. To no avail at this point, my mom couldn’t give in. She knew it was best for me to go up the hill and learn. She would take a cloth made of cotton and wipe my eyes and re-barrette my hair. I remember our ritual as if it were this morning. It went something like this…“Stacee, remember that God never goes away. You can trust Him when you feel like everything else is all messed up. Remember what to say with each stair as you walk up to school.” I’d hug her so tight as if I wasn’t going to see her in a few hours and start to move away. “ I trust you , Lord, I trust you.” Next set of steps, “ I trust you , Lord, I trust you.” All the way up to the top, this is what I’d repeat sometimes in my head, and sometimes in a whisper.

This is what it took to get me into school, and now to do life, even though it sounds exhausting to even read about. I’m sure it was more exhausting for my mom to go through this process each morning. But we knew it was more than that, and it worked because God was and is in it and His ways work. This, He promises. God has used these words to carry me from 1st grade through 12th grade, college, my parents divorce, my parents remarrying new spouses, 23 years of marriage to my husband, the loss of our son, the birth of our 2 healthy girls, continuing to raise our girls, the ministry, psychiatric treatment, eating disorder treatment, daily chemical depression, daily celebrations for eating and fighting the depression, celebrating the little things, and so much more. These words are what take the pressure off of me and transfer the trust to the only one who absolutely never worries.

The sooner we practice transferring our trust from people and our situation and look to God, the better. This is so hard!!!! We can see people and their faces and their help. But look at Jesus’ record! Jesus never fails, and we can experience his love and other perfect characteristics to their fullest day after day, especially His peace. When I start to doubt, it’s time to go straight to His word. Look at this…

” Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119.105

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3.5

Our lives are full of challenging steps, my friends. This we all know. We’ve got to choose to trust Him as we climb one stair…then the next. Some of the toughest lessons occur when we are scared to let go of trying to stay and fix things. Let’s trust that not focusing on our situation will be the best option because one of God’s greatest desires is for us to transfer our trust to Him by saying and living by the words my mom taught me…”I trust you Lord, I trust You.” Not only might you say it in your head and possibly even whisper it, but you could dare yourself to believe it.

Love to you!

Stacee

Goals!

Hey friends this is Stacee, and I've been working hard on my new video blog but I've missed writing to you, so I hope you can connect with this post.  Thank you for your encouragement as I do both now - love to you, Stacee People simply amaze me, really.Stacee Video Blog

Tonight I was at a business dinner with my sweet husband…a little nervous and probably fidgeting. Popping my knuckles under the table and in and out of the two conversations going on at either end of our table. I was energized by the environment, and the company we shared was interesting and intriguing. The people in our party were honestly wonderful. But simultaneously, I was aware of the cool vibe coming from those around our table. In my direct line of vision, was a middle-aged lady, I suppose, sitting alone. She caught my eye because she was seemingly so content with being, “party for one”, and I’m so not that way. I’d rather not eat than go out alone to do so.

As the evening progressed, I would occasionally glance over in her direction and with each bite and through the various courses of her meal and mine, an onlooker would have observed two very different relationships. Her relationship with food…and my relationship with food. Two polar opposite conversations going on. With each bite, her eye brows would rise one at a time, and she savored each bite that was scooped off of her plate. As one course was taken away and the next was ushered in, she welcomed it and began the careful process of cutting her next delightful portion.

I was actually experiencing two different emotions concerning her calm enjoyment; one being fear, and the next being envy. She ate each and every bite including dessert and nothing negative happened to her physically…apparently. As ridiculous as my fear for her eating all of her food may seem…that’s my reality. What did I expect would happen? Oh..my mind reels with the possibilities! It was an amazing realization for me to actually notice what was happening and not being repulsed, but rather, I was envious. She was taking in every moment with a full, then empty fork. GOALS!

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change with shifting shadows.” James 1.18

Your issue may not be with food at all. Quite honestly, I can only guess what yours could be to no avail. But when you see someone who doesn’t seem bothered by what bothers you, aren’t you the least bit scared they will have a horrendous experience or envious that they are unaware and going forth without caution? On the days when I am not apathetic on this path, I get tired of my simply observing and not experiencing.

We were designed to require nourishment.

We were designed to live in community and encourage one another to not merely be spectators but rather active in our recovery process.

We were designed to be in relationship with God.

Some day…probably not alone in a crowded restaurant, but some day nonetheless, I’ve got to hope that I will simply enjoy what is so complex now. A gift that was intended for pleasure…a meal.

God calls you, and He calls me to do the same spiritually. He asks us to “eat” with Him at His grand table. To enjoy Him and all that He brings to that table. This, I am trying very hard to practice with actual food and with all that He has in store for you and I even now. Just today, I hope to practice taking in bites of His actual food provided for me, and taste and see that He is also so good to me just by being perfect Him. You may be thinking that since you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, that this is not for you. If you are restricting God’s blessing in any area of your life, this has application. Think outside of the box and insert your situation where I have expounded on mine.

Move in the direction, my friend, with me, trusting that God has all of the fullness and peace as the one in your direct line of vision. His version of what that is supposed to look like for you, is more than satisfying! It’s every portion, including an unimaginable dessert.

Love to You,

Stacee