Thanks.

“God is good, He is the giver of all good things.” Isaiah 10.13

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136.1

Today was outstanding outside.  It’s fall, and still unseasonably warm for our neck of the woods, but the leaves were every shade of yellow and orange so I went for a stroll. So… oddly enough, I made a path through the foliage with my feet. The sun was more than bearable, so I welcomed the warmth on my face.

Stacee and her daughters

Stacee and her daughters

As I walked, I began to think about what a blessing life is. In all of its complexity, it’s still brilliant. I thought about the medication God has provided so that, on occasion, my mind will allow me to think for just a few minutes, much like it was right then.  And for food. You know how intimidated and scared I am of food, but it is, nevertheless, a precious gift-A luxury that so many don’t get the privilege to partake of.  As I continued down the street just a little ways, my eyes welled up with tears as God began to talk with me about these blessings.  My persevering family, my home, my community found in my church, my treatment doctors and team.  I had to catch my breath as I stopped for a moment and I sat right down on the curb. It was so clear that my Father wanted me to do more than merely acknowledge His works in my life. He wanted me to truly focus on Him and thank Him for his graciousness and mercy in my life.

“Stacee! We have come so far together, you and me!” I know there are many things physically and mentally that are still so foreign to me because I’m not supposed to do them yet for medical reasons, or comprehend them up to this point since my brain still needs more nourishment, but in that moment I just didn’t care. I could feel the tears slightly dry on my cheeks as the wind crossed my face and hair, but new tears would then begin to form. Again, God put on my heart how far we’ve come…together. He is the key!”  

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4.13.

I guess that’s why without Jesus I can sometimes panic.  Do you ever get scared when you consider your future? I do!  I panic when I think of the days to come, and I guess I should.  He created us to live one day at a time. No more.  My walk was brief and slow, and the mental calm changed to heavy complication as I was on the tail-end of my time on my leafy trail - just walking through the beauty crunching under my feet. But even in the loudness in my mind that is now present once again, I can still be thankful for where I am right now.  

Music is something that really helps to break through the sadness that my mind can hold.  But God is faithful.  He gives me a song to meditate on to remind me that He is sovereign. The song I have playing in my mind since this afternoon helps me keep things in perspective as I let it become my heartbeat this season.

”I’ve been running through rain

That I thought would never end

Trying to make it on faith

In a struggle against the wind

I’ve seen the dark and the broken places

But I know in my soul

No matter how bad it gets

I’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me

There’s a light, I still see it

There’s a hand still holding me

Even when I don’t believe it

I might be down but I’m not dead

There’s better days still up ahead

Even after all I’ve seen

There’s hope in front of me

There’s a place at the end of the storm

You finally find

Where the hurt and the tears and pain

All fall behind

You open up your eyes and up ahead

There’s a big sun shining

Right then and there you realize

You’ll be alright

You’re my hope

You’re the light, I still see it

Your hands are holding me

Even when I don’t believe it

I’ve got to believe it

I still have hope

You are me hope.”

Hope in Front of Me by Danny Gokey                                                                                                         

As your house fills up this season with food and family, stressful scenarios possibly, or with laughter and peace, take time to get alone and take a walk with Jesus. Listen to Him as you may even kick the leaves under your feet-and give thanks.

You may not realize it, and without God I don’t either, but let’s try to acknowledge and thank God for where you and I are right now. Try not to compare where you are to where another in your life might be. That’s honestly between them and God. When you look to Him, and walk with Him in the beauty of your life, especially including the trials, let the tears roll, my friend, and thank Him for how far the two of you have come! “I might get down but I’m not dead;  there’s better days still up ahead…”

Have a blessed fall day, friend! I am so thankful for you!

Stace

What If

What if now is our time? 

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:18-19)

Why am I jealous of the response these 2 brothers demonstrated when I possess the potential for the same type of obedience also?

On a scale from 1-10, (the only scale that I find to be okay to use…) where would you say your obedience level is? Do you obey God quickly when He calls to you? 

A lot of questions today!  Hang in there and “soul search” with me for just a few minutes.

The main word from the scripture which stands out to me, when I read this story several times, is the word “immediately.” I want to be able to say I would’ve obeyed Jesus immediately, stopped my job and earthly responsibilities like Peter and Andrew to go with Him, but would I have responded as they did? Would you be willing to do that? Honestly, He asks us to stop what is “normal” on a daily basis and follow Him. He has the best plan for you and me. He is calling us to not merely go through the motions of our day, and focus only on the task at hand, but to do what He does. Focus on those that are in our path and do so hastily. See others first.

Peter and Andrew were minding their own business, and doing their job, when Jesus was out for a walk that day. I can only imagine what it would be like to look toward the one who was approaching my workspace, and it be Jesus! He wasn’t coming to reprimand them, but to show them the best option for their lives. These two were fishermen (symbolic, huh!), but Jesus was calling them to be “fishers of men,” and to bring others to Know Him.

When Jesus is trying to get my attention, often through a sequence of events, one of the most challenging feelings I deal with is to think it’s so He can discipline me or, in my words, “get on to me.” Yes, Jesus disciplines those He loves, but He approaches us or “prods” at our hearts for other reasons also.  

Stacee and her oldest daughter shelbee

Stacee and her oldest daughter shelbee

When our oldest daughter, Shelbee, was about 2 years old, she was going through an intense season of testing her daddy’s and my patience.  I remember one time in particular. It was a bone cold night, Doug built a fire in the fireplace, and it was bright and beautiful. This was very intriguing to a little one, naturally. Since the season was only getting colder, we knew that the best strategy was to teach Shelbee about the word “hot.” You know the drill. We would put our hand toward the fire and say, “no, no Shelbee, it’s hot!” She was so cute and would put her tiny hand by mine and say, “hot”…It’s hot, mommy…it’s hot!’ Doug and I were trying not to crack up at her absolute cuteness. We looked at each other like, “that was easy. She’s got it!” And then took her with us into another part of our house. I barely even put her down, and off she ran back to the fireplace. We ran after her, of course, and she climbed onto the brick which led to the fire, while turning around to look right at me! I ran and scooped her up, and we started the process all over again with a few time-outs and lots of deep breaths by Doug and me. 

Shelbee was merely 2 years old. A baby! She quickly learned that we did not want her by the fire, but her obedience was lacking.  It was a process to the desired behavior, and we should’ve expected this! 

I use this example because you may be a brand new Christian, having recently asked Jesus to forgive your sins and lead your life.  This requires an admittance that you do wrong and need His guidance in every area of your life, in order to live life and live it to the fullest potential.  God our Creator, intended this life for us. The bonus? Forgiveness for our wrong actions and eternity in heaven with God our Father. Some of you know this promise.  But some of you do not. So for you who are reading this post and have not heard, there you go. Surrender is peace. Maybe you are brand new at following Jesus and your learning to obey Him. Begin your relationship, as a new follower of Jesus, by obeying Him ‘immediately.” He has the best plan for you to be forgiven, and loved, and guided. Yes, you can live resisting obedience, but peace will not come. 

Many of you have been walking with our Father for many years.  You have experienced both obedience and disobedience. What if we went back to the basics and obeyed Jesus when He tells us to do something for our good and for the better of all those whom God we impact? What kind of life are you and I looking to lead, I suppose, is the real question?
We taught and disciplined Shelbee, who is now 20 years old and following Jesus with her whole life. Honestly, it’s been our understanding that if we taught our girls to obey us the first time we talked with them about something, that they would eventually do the same action with God. We love them and want the best for them.  And WHEN we fell short in teaching them, God was faithful to continue teaching them. We are so thankful for His grace as He continues to teach all four of us.
Jesus could save the world without your help and mine. He is mighty to save. But He is so very gracious to let us be a part of the process because it changes us.

Leading others to Jesus is life-changing for all who are involved, and it reminds us of what Jesus did and does for us. 

What do we want our lives to look like? Peter and Andrew were doing what they were supposed to be doing…fishing. But in the process, they were obedient to the voice of Jesus for what else He had for their lives. What if they wouldn’t have obeyed? What if you and I DO? Now is our time.  

Shattered Magazine

It’s been such a privilege to work with Shattered Magazine! Our prayer is that this article will reach those who need to know that wherever they are on their journey, it’s okay to accept that God is right in the middle of it. Since our Father is Sovereign, we can believe He is in control.

Please read and share this article with those in your life who are facing any struggle at whatever stage they may be in. Thank you so much!

In Due Time

Sometimes…just sometimes... don’t you wish God would say to you, “Everything is okay; so just hang in there!” I’ve been going through a time of just being over things. Over trying to eat my whole meal plan, over trying to fight the depression, just tired of my daily regimen. Our oldest daughter is a junior in college now, and our youngest daughter is in her senior year of high school, and I’m hanging on for dear life to not miss one single thing. I’ve missed so much in the past because of sickness, and while I don’t feel great, I can’t give in to the enemy yelling that I need to miss more because I’m just not on my game. Food issues are so lonely and clinical depression could care less about all of the amazing things going on in the lives of those who struggle with it. They are both beasts, but God is bigger still.

I feel like this is one of the main reasons I haven’t been in contact with you lately. I want to be honest, but still “up” and encouraging and giving you so much more than I’ve had to offer lately. But God has been talking with me about this actually being the perfect time to write to you. After all, my prayer is that my posts aren’t only about this path I’m on, but about God’s love for you and me, and about the hope He alone can give to us in spite of where we are.

In the midst of this season of my life, the Lord remains faithful.

Are you surprised when this same thing happens in your life?... Shocks me every time! This is because I rely on my abilities more than I rely on Him so often. I’m so relieved that I’m wrong about this lie. I’m so relieved that He already knows about the seasons of our lives before they even come to pass.

Here’s a breath of fresh air worth taking in. “Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow  tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31.

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Thank you for not putting hope in anything I do or in how I feel. I can’t afford to either! The glory belongs with God.

Are you "over" things right now on your journey? It’s okay! Seasons like this are part of life and as long as we are staying in the Word and learning and trusting that God only has us here in this place “for such a time is this,” it will pass.

So, look at this. Because of God’s love and adoration for us, He DOES say through his Word…”Everything is okay and just hang in there.” And better still,  if we are too tired to hang in there, let us let Him hang on for us.

"We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections and believing that He understands everything - and still loves us."  A.W. Tozer

Breathe, my friend, allow Jesus to love on you. Let's take in His words of hope. This time of the struggle will pass in due time.

Love to you!

Stacee

Hey! Please watch for exciting things to come through Speak Out Loud! In spite of where I’ve been in life lately, God has been hard at work to reassure me that He has “plans” for my life, just as He promises He does for each of us. Be looking for our updated web page and posts! To make sure you don’t miss it, we will send out a date, so expect  to see it soon!

Our First Question

There once was a man who was born blind, according to John in chapter nine of his Gospel.  Why would this happen?  More specifically, why would God let this happen? God’s Word applies to our lives…forever. The story of this blind man is very close to my heart and helps me greatly in my acceptance of where God has me in my life right now….. and in years past, and possibly in the years to come.

Recently I spent time with my friend Mackenzie. She encouraged me and reminded me of this story– a story I had tucked far away in my mind because it’s easier to blame myself for my challenges, than to accept that this path…this road…is God’s very best work in me.

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People, by nature, are often “fixers.” It’s difficult for people who love us, to stand by and watch us suffer and hurt and struggle.  We want to know “why” in order to make sense of the problem and subsequently make things better.  We crave peace, and we want to “fix” what appears to be the problem so that we/they can experience relief.  It’s unintentional selfishness.  We want to believe that we know what’s best for ourselves and for others. Jesus’ works are miraculous however. When healing this blind man, Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he said, “and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. Crazy amazing!

Prior to his healing, this blind man had been sitting at the gates of his city begging for money. The community around him was toxic but typical. He was one of the embarrassments to the town, and yet God had a special plan for His life. Even Jesus’ disciples had a misperception of the blind man’s problem. They assumed there had to be explanation, a reason, which would explain this man’s affliction. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)

I can be so hasty to say things in my head about the disciples as I read this. Like, “Why would they assume anyone did anything wrong?’  When things that should go right in our lives go flat out wrong, what is the first word from our mouths? “WHY?” You know what I’m referring to. I do it too! We question God and wonder why He would allow difficult and sometimes horrible things to happen to us. Look at this. Jesus uses this story to show us the purpose saying, “Neither the man nor his parents sinned, “ Jesus said, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me…” (John 9:3-4)

What more of an answer could I ask for?

You may ask how this story relates to our stories when maybe we haven’t experienced total healing? My friend…hang in there. God sees us, and He adores you and me.  He knows the type of healing which will keep us close to Him and that’s the goal. THAT’S THE GOAL!

I can blame myself and almost drown in guilt and embarrassment because I think I must have done something wrong to be challenged with anorexia and depression for so many years.  Why am I still struggling? Why don’t I do better and fight harder so that I can be well? Why haven’t I been “fixed?”

This story of the blind man poses the question to my mind. ..a question which does not come naturally to me. I have to really focus and ask God for grace for myself and peace of mind so that I can accept the thought that I am not sinning in these areas. Anorexia is a mental illness, as is chemical depression. New use of the word, “why” can now enter. Why not face these challenges that are in my life? What if I didn’t sin and as a result have these struggles? What a relief! I can’t stay stuck in the stickiness of why I haven’t been totally healed! It’s too much! But what I can focus on is HOPE!

Jesus said that this man was blind “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”  My story and your story are not over. Regardless of what point you and me are at in our struggles, God’s work can be displayed in our lives. So I’m in! I’m all in! Sometimes we just can’t live for the end result. Sometimes we have to live for the promise that our lives have purpose. The Jesus I’m learning about and desiring a deeper relationship with isn’t into cruel jokes, although I used to believe that lie. He is into blowing peoples’ hearts wide open with the work of His Father! “Why” is a very tricky word in our limited minds, indeed, but in my mind, this story helps to answer the “why” to my limited knowledge.  The answer is…God.