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Archive for May, 2011

“School’s out for Summer!

School’s out forever!”

 

  Ok, ok.  I am not going to quote all of Alive Cooper’s song – just those two lines, I promise.  And officially, school is not out for my kids until 1:15 tomorrow (Friday), but I’m pretty sure they checked out sometime last week, mentally. 

So summer is officially beginning in my house.  And this summer holds lots of changes and adventures for the Stevens family – the very first being our last family vacation as a family of 4.  And we are not waiting around!  My OB said no travels after Week 34 of my pregnancy.  We are on Week 33, people.  Needless to say, we leave tomorrow at 1:15….

Another change will be the arrival of Ella Joy.  We cannot wait to see her sweet face in person and kiss her from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet! 

Changes can be so exciting, but they can also be pretty scary and unsettling.  My son, Will, does not like change. In fact, we have learned we have to give him a couple days heads up about any major change or he gets very grumpy and tends to fight us on it.  He turns into an “Eeyore”, as Dallas puts it. 

Aren’t we like that with God sometimes?  We pray and we pray for God’s will to be done, we say He is the King and that we want Him to rule in our hearts – typical Christian-ese things you are supposed to say to God, right?  But when He actually IS and change comes as a result, we aren’t so sure we like this.  We tend to try to take back the reins and take back that control.  To be honest, in the past, I’ve found myself having conversations with God that went something like this:

Me:  “Hey, God – I know I told you that I want you to take my life and make it yours, but I’m not liking that last decision you made…I mean, you could have at least consulted me…”

God:  “Kacey Gayle, I love you.  I MADE you.  I know you.  Do you still not trust me?”

Me:  “Oh, no, God…I TOTALLY trust you.  I just think maybe I should keep creative control for awhile…some of the stuff you are doing and trying – I’m just not sure I’m down with it.  Let’s take this slower.  Or better yet, how about we just leave things like they are?”

Now, of course I didn’t REALLY tell God that…but I have acted like it, which is just as bad or worse.  I willingly give God MOST of my heart, MOST of the decisions in my life – but hold back these little areas where I’m just not comfortable giving up control.  Change can be scary, right? 

What I am learning is that yes, change CAN be scary – but it can also be amazing, when God is in control and is in the pilot’s seat.   I’m learning that by holding back and retaining some of that control, I’m actually imprisoning myself.  It’s ONLY through giving God everything that I can truly experience freedom.  And joy.  And peace.   And love. 

So, while my kids feel FREE from school for the summer, I’m freeing myself from lots of other things – like control and guilt.  And it feels great. 

What about you?  Any changes that are freaking you out a little right now?  How are you and God handling the whole “control” issues?

 

Side Note: 

I will be taking a break from StillWaters for the summer to get ready for and enjoy every second I can with Ella Joy and with Abby and Will (and Dallas, too).  Oh, I may pop in every now and then if God so prompts me to, but Cathryn will be overseeing any and everything that has to do with StillWaters this summer and I know she will do an AH-MAZING job, as always….and I’m sure that if God so stirs you to share something with us, she would be very glad to hear from you!  You can email her at springsstillwaters@gmail.com

Have a great summer!

– Kacey

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I’ve always loved scripture’s illustration of God as the potter and us as the clay. It just always made sense to me. I love to think of how God continually molds us and shapes us to be exactly as He desires. I have learned, though, that sometimes when we, the clay, begin to harden in a shape that is not what God desires, He, the potter, sometimes has to break us in order to put us together in His perfect creation. Well, this week, I broke. I had to, and it was the best thing that could happen.

 Over the last year, since Elizabeth was born, I’ve struggled with bouts of depression-not clinical-just some real down in the dumps kind of days, weeks, months, year. It’s been incredibly hard for me to admit to myself, and I’d love to leave that part out of this post, but I would just be putting up a facade, and that doesn’t help anyone. There is no reason for me to feel shame because where this depression and pain was is now healing and victory, and I’m learning to walk in that victory each day.

 During this last year it became especially hard when Jerod returned to teaching in August, and I stayed home withElizabeth. I am typically a very humble person, but for you to understand my situation you must know: I was one awesome teacher. I know I only taught three years, but I was fan-stinkin-tastic, and people would tell me that, my students, their parents, my colleagues. And now I left that glory behind, and I was facing a new challenge. Caring 24/7 for a baby, and as fabulous and wonderful as she is, she cannot tell me what a terrific mom I am, and I cannot expect that of her; it’s not her job, and it is hard to feel glorious when you’re covered in spit up or wiping a nose or bottom for the umpteenth time.

 So after months of pushing these feelings aside and trying to just stay positive knowing that I am investing in my daughter, I came to the point that I couldn’t ignore them anymore. One evening after I gotElizabethto bed and Jerod was not home, I allowed myself to be broken. I cried and cried and turned the pieces of myself over to God, asking for healing, and our God is always faithful. He has begun to put me back together in a strikingly beautiful mosaic.

 As I spent this time crying and listening, I felt that I needed to pick up the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I received this book many years ago, but had not read it. I think that’s because it was intended for this time. I opened up to my book mark (chapter 2-What Eve Alone Can Tell) and began reading. What I found was exactly what I needed.

 They discuss the story of creation, how God so majestically created the Earth and everything in it. He created man in His image, but something was still missing…Eve. Eldredge says “she is the crescendo, the final, the astonishing work of God. Woman. In one last flourish creation comes to a finish not with Adam, but with Eve.” I want to share with you a passage that impacted me the most:

 “Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that Eve is the crown of creation? Not an afterthought. Not a nice addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God’s final touch, his pièce de resistance. She fills a place in the world nothing and no one else can fill. Step to a window, ladies, if you can. Better still, find some place with a view. Look out across the earth and say to yourselves, ‘The whole, vast world is incomplete without me. Creation reached its zenith in me.’ ”

 Wow. I felt overwhelmed in a beautiful way that I was created as the “crown of creation”. I bear the image of God. My longing for relationship, beauty and partnership is exactly what God created in me; it is who I am to be. I felt like I had finally found my identity, one that is not related to my career but to my creation. Talk about healing.

 I hope you know today that you are the crown of creation, you are essential, and this whole world is incomplete without you.

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Have you ever had one of those days when you just feel like nothing is going your way?  Nothing major or catastrophic happens, just every tiny little thing that could go wrong finds a way to go wrong…plus a few little unexpected and unpleasant surprises to boot?

Well, that was my Friday…I’m not going to go through a laundry list of all of my bad day….but for a small glimpse – let’s just say between the pump flying out of my car when I was filling it up so that I got soaked in gasoline and the nice photo clerk at Walmart refusing to give me my baby pictures because they might possibly be copyrighted from 35+ years ago and Will accidently poking his straw through the bottom of his brand new Taco Villa drink, I was just a TEEENY bit on edge…

Somehow, when I’m having one of those days, God always seems to find a way to break through – to give me a glimpse of sanity or of what matters in life…

On this day, as He does on many days, He chose to use humor.  Driving down the road, trying to decide if crying or cussing will make me feel any better, I suddenly hear a question from the backseat…not an uncommon occurrence.  Abby & Will are both full of questions these days…but this one totally threw me out of my “feel sorry for myself” coma…

Abby asks “Mom, is this seat cow?”

Huh???

Me:  “What?  What are you talking about?”

Abby:  “You know, is this seat made out of cow skin?”

Hmmm…well, it is leather, not cloth.  But are car seats synthetic leather?  And how is she going to react if I say yes?

Me:  “Well, I guess so.  It is leather.”

Will & Abby are mortified…the next thing I hear is a chorus of awwwwws and “poor cow”‘s…….I look back.  They are PETTING the seats..no joke.  I cannot help but smile, which just leads me into a small chuckle…next thing I know, I’m laughing and crying at the same time – all of the tension that had been building up all day just came out. And the conversation continued from there – “I wonder if this is his head or his back?”  “Do you think his momma is a car seat, too?”

It was just a small, brief moment, but somehow God knew just what I needed to bring me back to reality, to give me a glimpse of what life is all about – and to again see the joy and blessings He has surrounded me with.

So today, I’m thankful for all of the ways that God finds to break into our days, to make His presence known, to get our attention….to divert us away from our selfishness (whether it’s a “poor me” selfishness or an “I deserve better” selfishness). I’m thankful that God has a sense of humor.  And I’m thankful that days like those always come to an end eventually. 

-Kacey

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Soul Surfing +

A couple of weeks ago, I took my daughter to see the movie “Soul Surfer” – the real life story of Bethany Hamilton.  General premise – a 14 year old girl who was destined for greatness in the competitive surfing world until a shark attack left her without one arm.  She had to dig deep within AND she had to rely on her faith in order to make it through the ordeal…see the movie if you want to know the rest.  I cried.  It could be the pregnancy hormones, but I did cry, folks.

After the movie was over, I was asking Abby and her friend what they thought about the movie…”INSPIRATIONAL” “AWESOME” “AMAZING” are the words I got…so I pushed a little further.  I asked what did they think about what happened to Bethany….there is a whole scene in the movie where Bethany’s youth minister has them look at pictures of things REALLY close up and try to guess what they are…and then looks at them from further away…trying to teach them about perspective and how things that can seem one way when we are too close to them are really something else. So I asked them about that…

Abby, in all her 9 year old wisdom, tells me “Mom, I think God sometimes makes things happen that we don’t understand but they have a bigger purpose….” Ok, we are sort of on the right track, but I saw a flaw in her theology I wanted to just kind of redirect…so I told her that I did not believe that God  made bad things happen but that God loves us and God can take those bad things and can use them for better purposes, that He can make them into something for His glory rather than what Satan intended them for – which is evil and to hurt us.

Fast forward a week – the tornadoes in Alabama. 

The kids and I pray every morning on our drive to school…just a few minutes where we thank God for the day and invite him into it…we take turns.  This morning, it was Abby’s turn and the tornadoes had just happened the night before.  So she prays  – “God, thanks for the sunshine this morning.  God, please give some sunshine to the people in Alabama.  Help them find their families.  And God, I don’t know why there were tornadoes and people hurt there, but I know that you will help use that so people can see you.  Let them see you, Lord.  Amen.”

Again I almost cried…dang those pregnancy hormones! 

Then, the next day, I re-read a scripture that I have in my “Joy” scripture book I carry around with me everywhere…and I saw it through fresh eyes…so I’m sharing it with you today. 

 

    1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
      for the Lord has anointed me
      to bring good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
      and to proclaim that captives will be released
      and prisoners will be freed.[a]
    2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
      that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,[b]
      and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
    3 To all who mourn in Israel,[c]
      he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
   a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
      festive praise instead of despair.
   In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
      that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”

–Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLV)

  It’s my prayer for you today that God will give you fresh eyes and a renewed spirit today…whatever situation you may be struggling with in your life, that He will give you a peace in knowing that He will turn those ashes into something beautiful, just like He did with Bethany Hamilton and her tragedy, just like we will continue to pray He does in Alabama…

– Kacey

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My Rock

And our winner is #7 Sharon Betzold! Congrats, Sharon, and thank you so much to everyone who commented. It was truly beautiful!

So this has been an abnormally roller-coaster of a spring for me! One day is exciting with great news or just a very pleasant day and the next is the pits. Well, today is a pits-kind-of day. My sweet husband got quite sick yesterday, and I’ve been frantically working to care for him and Elizabeth without cross contaminating. I can only imagine the charicature of myself. Frazzled hair with a bottle of Lysol in one hand, hand santizer in the other, and a seriously hysterical look on my face!

I sat down to write this morning and had no clue what to share. So I opened my trusty devotional and found a scripture that is appropriate for my day: “For who is God but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” 2 Samuel 22:32.

I realized that during this spring, I’ve been trying to hang on to other things for stability. I’m a planner that likes to know exactly what to expect and how to prepare. No matter how many tips I read on mommy blogs or organizers I buy, I will not obtain the kind of controlled consistency that I think I need. It’s just not gonna happen.

So here’s my morning epiphony: there is one thing I can count on every day: God is my Lord, and He is my rock. Everything else can be up in the air, but that is a firm truth that I can cling to each and every day, even the pits-kind-of-days.

Now I’m not going to stop trying to create a healthy and as consistent as possible environment for my family, but I will know that when things fall apart, I don’t have to. I’ve got my God, my rock. Sometimes, we just have to get back to the basic truths.

Have a blessed day,

Cathryn

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Welcome again to another addition of Monday Giveaway. Woo hoo!!  In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend (everyone be sure to send some love to your mommas), we are giving away an AMAZING book…one I’ve written about before on here – called “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. Tag line reads “Dare to Life Life Fully Right Where You Are”..this has been one those life altering/perspective changing books for me.  Along with it is a daily calendar based on the book with lots of great thoughts for you day to day.  I loved it so much that this is what I got my mom and my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day (so if you are reading this, Mom and Debi – surprise!!)

  Here’s what you have to do – leave a comment by Wednesday night at 9 p.m.  Then, we’ll go back to the ol’ random numbers generator to select our winner! 

Here’s your comment question:  Tell us a little about your mom – whatever you want to share – the good, the bad, the ups, the downs, a favorite memory…whatever is on your heart as we head into Mother’s Day this next weekend. If you want more parameters than that – list 3 words that come to mind when you think about your mom.

So – here’s mine.  My mom – my mom is the oldest of 8 children, she is a farmer’s wife, and a city librarian.  My mom has a servant’s heart almost to a fault, if that’s possible.  She is very independent, very stubborn, and raised her 3 children to be the same way.  If I had to guess her redemptive gifts, I’d probably say SERVANT followed closely by RULER – which seems totally opposite, doesn’t it?  When I think of words to describe her, words like STRENGTH, FAITH, WISDOM come to mind.  I love watching her with her grandchildren.  Abby and Will (and soon to be Ella!) are her youngest…then she has 5 teenage girls (19 to 13) and a 21 year-old grandson.  Watching her with them is like watching and remembering my “Ma” with me (my mother’s mother)…she spends time with them, she takes time to get to know them, their faults and strengths, their likes and dislikes, and she speaks into their lives.  And most of all, she leaves them (and me and my brothers) with a legacy of faith that is priceless.  I feel extremely blessed to be her daughter and am so grateful to God for her in my life. 

Yes, these may be sappy.  They may be funny.  They may be whatever you want them to be. 

Ready, Set, GO!

 – Kacey                            

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