devotionals

then comes toothpaste in a shopping carriage.

 

This post comes to you from one of my favorite people in the world–the wise, the beautiful, the best sister and friend imaginable–Ashley Trompeter.  Enjoy….

I’m not going to attempt to convince you that after two years of being married, I’ve mastered the art of marriage.  But—I have learned one thing I truly believe has helped in minimizing our tough days: be willing (and excited!) to change your brand of toothpaste!

(I hope you either just laughed or raised an eyebrow).

Before you think I’m completely crazy, let me explain…

I am blessed to have a husband who enjoys enjoying life together! The laughter and adventures we’ve shared have filled the last few years with more joy than I thought possible. I’m smiling now (and let’s be honest…getting a little choked up) just thinking about how much fun we have together!

Like all marriages, ours too has days and sometimes weeks when we just don’t seem to “click.” Whether it’s because our work schedules are poorly aligned, or one of us isn’t feeling well, there are just days marriage is rough.

Before our wedding day, we completed pre-marital counseling. It was by far the healthiest thing for our marriage, and I highly recommend it! With a few years of marriage under my belt, I look back on those sessions where we discussed marital expectations and healthy compromise and realize the counsel we received was spot-on.  Here’s where I think we, as spouses (and yes, I’m talking to myself here, too), can begin in the development of healthy marital expectations:

 

If we individually go into marriage with pre-calculated ideas of exactly how to live life together, we’re not leaving room for new adventures, traditions, and opportunities for pure fun with our spouse.

Growing up, my mom always bought Colgate toothpaste. I never even glanced at other options in the hygiene aisle until I met Ben (sisters Stacy and Ashley each married men named Ben. haha!), the avid Crest user.

He opened my eyes to shelves upon shelves of other options. Plaque control, nighttime health, fluoride anti-cavity, sensitive and enamel shield, whitening gel, gum protection, invigorating clean mint…the options are nearly endless.

Any hesitation I might have felt tossing my first tube of Crest into a shopping cart has long been overshadowed by how much I’m enjoying a new brand of toothpaste!  As silly as it may sound, I view my small change-of-expectation in toothpaste purchases as a fun, exciting new twist in my life. It took letting go of a twenty-two year old Colgate tradition to allow a new and better one to emerge.

Since I’ve only ever seen my mom buy Colgate while I was growing up, I just assumed she’d always been a Colgate-lover.  She recently told me that she actually grew up using Crest and it wasn’t until she married my dad that she discovered the world of other brands.  Like mother, like daughter!  It’s a silly, unexpected comprise, but the idea behind it can be a life-changer and a marriage-changer because sometimes in marriage it’s the littlest things that drive people crazy:  our natural response to change in our routines, habits, and lifestyle is often combative.  It takes intentionality, but you can become excited about the changes that marriage brings.

Be willing to branch out. Try new sports. Eat new foods that your spouse loves. Use a sponge instead of a dishrag. 

When you find yourself excited about trying simple new things in marriage, the days when you find yourself thinking, “…but that’s not how I’ve always done it” lessen, and your lives together are more enjoyable.

Take it from a girl who, two years later, still gets really excited when purchasing Crest products!

I’ll see you in the hygiene aisle,

Ashley

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The prelude:

I want to be an actor.

I live near Chicago and am auditioning around these parts.

Hi I’m Stacy and you should cast me in your show. Thank you.

 

I began auditioning in Chicago about a month and a half ago without the slightest idea how long it would take me to land a role.  Auditioning is a real trip, and I’m grateful to say that somehow–my first few went pretty alright.

Act I

My fourth audition felt sort of kind of AMAZING.  I was auditioning for a character I totally jived with.  I knew I could portray her well, and I knew the director knew I could, too.  I felt >>completely<< alive as the director kept asking me to read different scenes from the play, always as the lead female character.  Whoa.

I told Ben I couldn’t imagine not being cast–that’s how well it went.  The phone call I received the next day was a shocker.  The director said, “I usually don’t make phone calls to actors–I let the producer do that–but with you….with you….I just really wanted to call you.”

A telephone near her started ringing (not the one she was using to talk with me) and I told her she could take the call.

I then regretted telling her she could take it as I stood in my bedroom waiting, wilting, during the longest 60 seconds that ever came to pass.

“Well, you didn’t get the part, Stacy.  You were our first choice, but the male actor we wanted to cast as your love interest declined the role.  Therefore, we had to go with our second choice male actor who is several inches shorter than you.  So, we’re offering the lead female part to our second choice female actress.”

Oh seriously?  That is not fair.  Oh that’s so not fair.

Is that not the best worst news you could receive?  I really had to fight a feeling of entitlement–as in–I should have had that part!  Not her!  I even had to get over the fact that I had shared my candy with the girl who was getting to play the lead as we waited to go in to audition.  The girl who stole my part also ate my favorite gummy fruits! 

Don’t mess with my favorite gummy fruits from downtown Naperville that Ben bought for me, ok?!

Act II

A week later I went to another audition.  It went great.  I felt so comfortable, in fact, that when they asked me to sing, I ended up sharing a song I wrote about Ben.  Interesting choice, Stacy.  Anyways–they laughed and I laughed and we had a jolly time of it.

They asked to see me again at a call back (yay) which I felt I did horribly at.   (Blaaah.)  I don’t even want to talk about it.

Weeks go by and I’m not surprised not to hear from them.

A few more auditions take place, and now I’m waiting to hear about a different gig in a touring ensemble that I know I’m being seriously considered for.  When my phone rings and I don’t recognize the number, I’m thinking surely it’s this touring act gig.  Eeek–did I get it or not??!

*Insert dramatic music from Phantom of the Opera or maybe just Charlie Brown Christmas*

Act III

It wasn’t the touring act gig I thought it’d be on the phone.  It was the director from the call back I’d done “horribly” at.  He asked if I was still interested in the show.  I’m thinking–why on earth are YOU interested in having ME in the show weeks and weeks after you should have had this cast?  Plus remember how I did real, real bad?

He went on to explain the pay, the rehearsal times, the performances, and I’m just confused.  Eventually he said, “So what happened is you were our second choice for the part.  We went another direction and cast someone else, but she decided to go another direction and not be in the show.  And she just told me today.  And our first rehearsal is tonight.  Will you PLEASE consider the show?  You’d be SAVING me!”

I hung up.  Cried.  Prayed.  Screamed.  Laughed uncontrollably in a way I’m so glad no one saw and hopefully my new neighbors didn’t hear.  And then I hopped in my car and headed to my first rehearsal.  It started 2 hours and 15 minutes after I got the call!

The play is Wind in the Willows. It’s an ensemble so everyone plays multiple characters. I’m really excited to be my favorite animal: a bunny!

Funny how I had to learn to let go of my felt RIGHT….my perceived ENTITLEMENT towards the part in that first play.  I had to wrestle with feeling like what was mine had been wrongly given to another.  And now–let’s face it–I’m getting something good that really should have gone to another.

The bunnies are good. The weasels are bad. Guess what I am here.  Nevermind these pictures were all taken in a bathroom mirror.  I don’t know what other people do at 10 pm on Tuesday nights but I take pictures of myself in the bathroom I guess.

 

It’s crazy, right?  Sometimes second-best is good enough!

This is theatre people, and things don’t always go as planned.  This is life, people, and things don’t always go as planned.  Sometimes, not always, they go better than planned.  ;)

 

Epilogue

Yes, I do get to play a few humans. I’ll be a gypsy, for example. Feel the love.

God doesn’t always put the most qualified people in the roles we think he should.  Yet somehow, where he puts us is right for us.  I can’t help but think of Moses who wondered why God would choose such a poor public speaker to do all this speaking on behalf of the God of the universe.

I’m resting and rejoicing in the fact that His ways are not for me to understand.

One of my favorite lines from the play is “Shake a paw!”  Never mind how grumpy I look–check out that lil paw paw!

You take what you can get and you enter the doors God opens, by faith, because of trust.

Who cares that I wasn’t first choice?  God is on my side, and He’s writing the ultimate script with my life.  {You know I just can’t pass up that metaphor.}  But really–our God gives good gifts, and you better believe he can write a good story!

I’ll be a crazy washerwoman.  “Sixpence a load, me dears!” Downy, anyone?

Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

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Well, I’m not sure I can actually suggest there are any problems with God’s grace.  Seems kind of ballsie.

Grace. There is simply nothing that has affected me more than realizing everything I have is undeserved.  Oh yes—grace is PARAMOUNT to knowing Christ and I’m not trying to discredit it or downplay it. I’m trying only to lift up something else that can stand next to grace as a lovely little thing worth shedding some little light on.  Fair warning:  it doesn’t sound as nice and pretty as grace.  It rolls of the tongue in the same way “ugly stepsister” does.

{Obedience}

I recently had a darling three year old say to me, “Stace, I love you. You’re the second best thing I ever had!”  This is the same girl who, when she was a two year old, would say during a diaper change, “Stace, thanks for wiping me….EVERY TIME!”

Sometimes just hearing these simple, joyful things from the heart of a child is enough to make a girl go, “Wow–God, you are so very grace-giving and kind!”

But back to obedience….the ugly stepsister of grace, if you will.  Let’s be honest, it does not sound nearly as trendy as grace does.  Because it’s not as trendy as grace is.

Here is my take on what our current culture claims we should believe:

  • If it feels right to you, you should do it!  You only live once.
  • Follow your heart and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong for doing things like you choose.
  • “The right way” is relative based on a person’s background and beliefs.
  • Just trying to be good and do good is good enough.
  • To not accept everyone’s beliefs as right (at least for them) is to be unloving and judgmental.
  • It’s not our right to question how someone else is operating—this is a free country and we each get to do what we like without others critiquing our affairs.
Is anyone else ready to puke?

Now, hear me clearly.  I support people pursuing their dreams and getting to make their own decisions; and, I never support pushing ideas and beliefs down people’s throats.   There are elements of the bulleted points above that can be very good, but overall, this way of thinking doesn’t leave much room for a God who has created a loving set of guidelines to serve as our protection and roadmap to abundant life.  {The Bible}  We’re living in an “anything goes” world when God’s Word still says there’s only one true Way!

This past month I’ve been stumbling through the Old Testament, definitely leaning on a devotional guide from Moody Bible Institute to help me understand what the heck’s going on.  It’s beautiful to see the Lord, in this ancient text, establishing a trend that is still His vital heart beat today.  He says, in a much paraphrased way….

People– you are mine! I have chosen you and I love you. You’re special to me, and I want you to act in a way that is different than the people of the world who don’t know me yet.

Animal sacrifices, rules about cleanliness and uncleanliness, do eat this and never eat that…..these were all guidelines to help set God’s people apart from those not following God. That makes sense to me:  when you realize you are loved and chosen by God, your life choices should look a bit different than the people who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet.

Continuing my paraphrasedness, the Lord says,

I have parted seas for you.   I have plagued the people who stand in your way. I have brought about offspring to people well beyond the years of childbirth. I have given your people a king in just the way I said I would. I have done every single thing I said I would do, and it has ALL been in your best interest. I have a good track record going here, now for crying out loud—would you please trust me? Would you trust that I know what I’m talking about when I say ‘please don’t do that?’ and ‘please—it’d touch my heart if you did do this?’

Call me old-fashioned. Call me a Bible banger. :)  Call me judgmental, obnoxious, conceited, or rude. (Unless you agree with me, of course.)  I promise I’ll get over any hurt feelings for the sake of a great discussion.  I would like to suggest that seeking to obey the Lord is almost as sweet as receiving grace from Him.

When I see people who really love God and love others take a certain matter into their own hands, I get sad. I am not saying I am without sin (oh Lord, no!) but only that refusing to live the “set apart” way God asks us to is essentially announcing that we think our way is better than the way God declares is best…..does anyone else think that is a scary position to put ourselves in?!  Have we forgotten that God is holy, that in love He will judge all things because how could a loving God not judge all the sinfulness and wrong in the world?

It scares me when we, as people in the church today, become so very excited by the idea of free grace that we overlook the very important fact that this gracious God asks us to obey His wise words because we’re not any ol’ Joe or Sally.  We’re His. 

I’m not suggesting we marvel any less adoringly at God’s grace, but that we adore the practice of obedience, as untrendy as it is, even more.

We don’t follow the fancy offerings and sacrifices of the Old Testament because Jesus Christ changed the meaning of sacrifice forever, but we should still be in the practice of doing things differently than the world now that we are seen differently by God.  We’re daughters.  We’re sons.

If we do as we like, quite aware that something is not God’s way but letting ourselves be ok with that because we see God as all-loving and never correcting, judging, or rebuking–we’ve missed the boat.  Oh yes, He is all-loving, and His love is of the most mature and wonderful kind;  that is, like any good parent, He loves us too much not to help us see the truth.

I hope I could say that even if I never saw even one immediate, personal benefit from obeying God, I would still strive to obey Him.  {Why?  Because Jesus came, lived, died, and there was an empty tomb following his crucifixion!  The man ended His big stunt show on earth by conquering death!  That’s why!}  But the funny thing is…. we have a God who enjoys blessing His kiddos, and I’m struggling to think of even a single time I chose to obey God and it did not somehow benefit me later.

 

People, God withholds no good thing from those who trust Him and therefore obey.

He is asking holiness of us.  There is no doubt about that.

Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.  {Leviticus 19:12}

Obedience brings good things.  There is no doubt about that.

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts you.  {John 20:17}

And always, always, always….for our most unholy times and slip ups…..there is grace.  There is no doubt about that!

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith.  And this is not your doing; it is the gift of God.

{Ephesians 2: 8-9}

 

Trusting and obeying (for there’s no other waaaaay!),

♥  stacy

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We must have faith like a small child to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Did you know a tiny little ant can lift or carry 10 to 50 times it’s own body weight?

Even something as small as giving a single cup of water to a believer is seen and rewarded by God.  {Mark 9:41}

Just a one minute encounter with a friendly cashier has the potential to make my day.  Does it yours?

My conclusion and personal opinion and fact and belief (take your pick) is this:

I want to encourage you with a simple truth and reminder today.  We live in a world that glorifies big accomplishments and owning impressive things.  I know you know this, but sometimes we just have to hear it again.  Without a little time of reflection to step back and call the lie like it is, a subtle yet potent message creeps inside and makes us uncomfortable with what feels like the smallness, or the insignificance of what we’ve done so far and what we have so far.

But for those who know Christ, we are granted freedom from the chains of comparing ourselves to all the big stuff other people seem to have.  We wake up each morning in a world where the liars often get ahead, superficial people get all the opportunities, and the lazy prosper.  We forget that the world we wake up in is not the reality we’ll live in for eternity.  In the end we will see the lowest in rank served first.  The back of the line will get a pass to the front.  The people who stooped low to serve on Earth will be lifted high under heaven’s eternal rule.

Small things don’t make the news.  Heck, small things don’t even get “liked” on Facebook.  We want big results from our efforts.  We demand interesting.  We’re being trained to believe we deserve the good stuff in life, and not just that, but we deserve to have it fast.

Just a reminder:  we don’t have to play by these rules.  We can choose to love the small.  Treasure the things you could never buy.  Make time to be quiet before God and get absolutely nothing accomplished and just….listen…. even though there’s always the choice to open a laptop or click the remote on.

My husband and I are coming up on one and a half years.  {Woot!}  I feel like Ben and I kind of re-teach each other the value of the small.  We are not living on a honeymoon high or even trying to, although this picture does nothing to support this statement.  We’re living as forgiven sinners trying to serve God and each other with small, thoughtful actions because really–what more can we do?  (So the picture is supposed to be a thoughtful action–I’m glad we got that settled.)  God set up this world for humans to experience life in small moments, minute by minute, not from one epic huge event to the next epic huge event.  Every day isn’t a wedding day.  Not even a birthday.  Let’s be honest, a lot of days aren’t that particularly special–but are there treasures in each day to be cherished and encouraged by?  For God to speak through and teach us a little something-something?

For the person with eyes wide open, yes–I’d say there are.

Small.

Mustard seed.

Laughter.

Grass.

Birds singing.

Baby sleeping.
Favorite novel.

Outfit that makes me dance.

His smile.

My camera.

Pretty paper.

The way my favorite pencil writes.
Ice cream.

Nail polish.

Weddings.

Chocolate covered…..anything.

 

Lord, I trust that as I surrender my days on earth to you, you are working in the small choices I make.  I believe the day to day matters because you’ve created us to live in a day to day way.  I’m so sorry I don’t make time to praise you for the crazy amount of small but meaningful joys you’ve graced my life with.  You’re so good, and I’m so unworthy, and I’m so in love with you.  I’m going to keep my eyes wide open.  Amen.

Wedding day photo credit:  AO Photographers

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Caution:  silly pictures ensue.

When this little blog was just an idea, jumbling around inside my little head,  I prayed for it.

I prayed offensively. 

Well, maybe it didn’t look quite like this.  :)

But, I did have to battle my own pride with striking blows to get myself out of the way so my one true desire for this site would be to glorify God.  Hate to say it, but many days I wouldn’t mind much if everything revolved around me.  However, in my deepest heart, I don’t want a life or a blog focused on me.  What I want is to love and explore and converse with you about the wonders of following the person and teachings of Christ in a difficult world where God is still good.

 

When I prayed for this blog, I prayed defensively.

 

I had to create armor to stave off mean voices –have you heard them, too?  They say things like, “There are a million businesses/crafts/beliefs/people/ideas/blogs out there like yours.  Do you really think the world needs one more?”  As I moved forward with starting a blog, God’s Word became a shield to those monsterly voices that can sound so sweet and logical.  What the Lord says about us has the power to deflect even the worst of lies with pure Truth.

 

“For you have created my inmost being; you have knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful.”  {Psalm 139:13-14a}

 

When I prayed for this blog, I trusted and expected God to move and work–not because I am particularly clever or have anything extremely new to say–but because I believe God desires that  people know him and He can use just about anything to help kindle a relationship with the daughters and sons He loves.  I believe He wants the best for us, and because He is best for us, He’s always drawing us towards Him.

When I prayed for this blog, I did not know I was praying for Doug.*

>>>>>>>>>

 

I’m sitting in a coffee shop, at different tables but positioned face to face with Doug.  I’m trying to crack my neck and he asks if I’m alright.  I’m fine, just a little stiff.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine.  Why, do I look tired?” I said.

“Oh I just noticed your neck….”

“Just trying to crack it.”

“Oh ok.  Are you a student?”

“No.”  I smile.  “I’m a blogger!”

“Ok, I keep hearing people talk about blogging, but I have to admit…..I have no idea what that is.  What is a blog?  How is it different from a website?”

Not terribly exciting dialogue, I’ll admit, but this was the launch of a very long, rich conversation with Doug.  His questions about blogging led me to swivel my laptop around and invite him to my table.

I showed him a few pages of the site, and he eventually asked “Foolish for Light–why did you name it that?”

I gave him the shortened answer to the explanation you’ll find {over here}.

“Huh,” he said.  “Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”

Uh oh.  Doug had so many questions, I don’t actually remember what the first one was.  The point is–he had a lot of them, and they were very, very good.  These questions were coming from a man who is intelligent.  He wasn’t set out to disprove, condemn, or belittle me–he just wants something True that can stand up to questioning.  He’s sick of knowing a lot of “religious people, carrying their crosses on their backs, so sure they are going to heaven and don’t actually know anything in the Bible.”  He is sick of being told, “just don’t ask questions.”

Doug and I chatted 20 minutes on blogging and 40 on the Bible.  Just as he dismissed himself to use the bathroom, my husband Ben called me to say he was en route to the coffee shop.  “Great!”  I said.  “As you walk, say a prayer because I’ve been chatting with someone about the Bible.”

The conversation only got better with Ben there because Ben is–well–amazing.  Ben offered to give Doug a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which details how logical thought and reasoning led Lewis to abandon atheism and come to believe in the divinity of Christ.

After 40 minutes, Ben eventually had to leave, but Doug and I continued to chat until the shop closed at 11:00 pm.  As we packed up our computers, the barrista introduced himself with a smile and said he and some other employees meet for Bible studies regularly.  Perhaps the barrista was saying a little prayer over our conversation?  It was a special evening in Caribou Coffee.

You know, when I prayed for this blog, I imagined I was just praying for the Lord to give me words to write, and that He would work in the hearts of the people who read.  {Thank you Lord, for giving me words!  Thank you friend, for reading!}

  • I did not know I was praying for a man with a lifetime of bottled up questions on faith.
  • I did not know I would be able to start a conversation with him because I know a thing or two about blogging.
  • I didn’t know a door would be opened because I gave this site a funky name.
  • I didn’t know God would be so faithful in sending Ben through the doors of Caribou when I needed a little back-up support.
  • I didn’t know I could talk about the Bible from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm after working all day and accidentally not eating dinner…. and survive!  :)

Have you been waiting for the emotional, tear-jerker ending to this story?  It doesn’t have one.  This is a “to be continued” because we’re meeting up with Doug again sometime this week–per his request.

It’s not an amazing story as much as it is an amazing story.  I am not an experienced evangelist, but I do have a real faith, knowledge, and relationship with Christ and I just happened to bump into someone looking for something authentic to pierce his world of “church people” who don’t seem to be Christ people.  I’m so encouraged that while this man knows so many quack religious goofs, he hasn’t given up in his search for God.  Even though these goofs are making him feel lousy for asking questions, I’m so encouraged he’s still asking!  Oh he’s skeptical, sure, but skepticism is a much better place than apathy.  How many other seekers are out there, waiting to bump into someone who knows the God of the Bible?

When I prayed for this blog, clearly I did not know all that I was praying for.  For those of us who have faith (which does not require sight) we do not need to constantly see that God is arranging things, guiding us, and orchestrating–but thank you Lord, that every once in awhile you give us a glimpse of clarity that our lives and work are not fruitless.

It can sound foolish, I know, to trust a God we can’t see, a God who often seems quiet, but time and time again it becomes apparent that even in His silence and mystery, He conjures up something way beyond what we would have imagined.  His ways are more complex than ours, yet there’s something strikingly simple about this whole story, isn’t there?

A cup of coffee.
Let’s talk about blogging.
Being asked to share what I have experienced to be true.

Maybe you are the answer to someone’s prayer who has questions or struggles with doubt.  Maybe the person sitting next to you is part of the answer to your prayer to be used as an instrument of God.  Apparently, He’s still in the business of using the willing, despite their lack of qualifications (and trust me, I’m not qualified).

The more I pray for this blog, the more I realize I have to talk.  Not about the blog–about Jesus.  People are looking for a light and I know Him.  Does it get more beautifully simple than that?

♥  stacy

*Doug’s name has been changed.

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Before I even met my husband, I had decided in my head that future Mr. Wonderful and I were going to struggle the first few years of our lives together.  Through our “poverty” we’d find that love was all we needed to be happy.  We’d see God meet our needs when we didn’t know how they could be met, and in the end, look back on God’s faithfulness to us with a smile.  (Are you surprised that for many years, being a Disney princess was my dream job?)

A week after my wedding,  I suddenly brought myself to a halt in our apartment kitchen.  The enormous pile of freshly-opened wedding gifts in our living room was a jarring sight, and at my hip on the kitchen counter was a large pile of checks that had been all summed up by my math-loving husband, ready for a big ol’ bank deposit.

Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE gifts–but suddenly it hit me how extravagantly I was being treated.  From the tiny kitchen of our bare and bland apartment, I worshiped.

“Lord, thank you!  I hope you know I would love you even if I didn’t have a fantastic husband and I would be grateful even if I didn’t have this new stuff.  God, you don’t have to give me everything I want and need with this little effort from me.  I know that ultimately, struggle is good for my character.”

(I sound pretty holy, right?  Don’t worry….I start whistling a different tune very soon.)

I was so prepared for there to be difficult times in my marriage that I actually welcomed them.  {I know that’s kind of weird, but hang with me here…}  When I look back on my life, I see there is something extremely sweet that happens during struggle.  When hardship is the reality we find ourselves in, we experience a heightened awareness of being in need.  Now, we’re always in need–we have what we need each day because He allows it to be so–but on an average day, do we stop to think about these things God provides?  Times of crisis, hurting, and struggling remind us that is God is powerful.  They remind us to ask of Him, to thank Him, to lean on Him.

“So challenge me, Father.   Strengthen my faith in the ways you see fit, ” I prayed.  And oh my–this is a prayer God answers!

Flash forward a few months after my gratitude meltdown and my husband and I are sitting on the couch, staring at our budget book.  Perhaps I was blinded by love those first weeks of marriage, but I had truly forgotten that:

  • my car loan would have to be paid off
  • oh yeah, I had brought a nice chunk of college debt to our financial picture
  • ooops, I accidentally hit a parked car at TJ Maxx  (so much for trying to save money at a discount store!)
  • my tireless hours spent as our Family Shopper and Manager of the Family Estate were not bringing in any income  (I chose not to work outside the home right after our wedding to get us settled in)

Ben pointed his red pen at a few different numbers in the budget book, calmly explaining that we were living at a deficit each month.

“A what?”

“Stacy, we are spending more than we make each month.  See how this number is bigger than this one?”

“Ooooohh.”

I am not proud of or happy with the twisted knot in my stomach as I swallowed having to change the way we were doing things.  (Nooo!) 

Why on earth did I pray that silly prayer in the kitchen?  Why would I specifically ask for my life to be harder?!  (Nooo!)

And life since the deficit talk has looked different, and by different, I mean harder.  We hold ourselves back from purchases that may be great deals but don’t meet a pressing need.  We are seriously focused on paying off our debt, staying faithful in tithing to God’s work in the world, plus we have a house to save for.  If the grocery money allotment for February runs out, well, then it runs out!  We have to scrounge the back alleys of our kitchen cupboards and get creative for dinner.  {Hot dogs, anyone?}

Self-denial.  Delayed gratification.  Some days, those two things hurt more than I’d like to admit. And you know what?

I am grateful for the place we are at right now.
I am glad I prayed for my life to get harder!

We are relying on God to meet our needs {and He has!  for instance, I now am a nanny for families I completely love} and trusting him with our dreams.  I know some people go to the grocery store and buy everything they want, all fancy and organic and beautifully packaged.  We don’t.  I stand in Target and dialogue with myself saying, “But do I really need that?”  and then I flash back to the day Ben used the word “deficit” and I walk away from the beautiful, wonderful thing I so badly want in my red shopping cart.  :)  And this is ok!  We don’t have everything we want, and we’re still happy!

{Oh my gosh, my fairy tale as described in paragraph one is coming true!}  Being poor and finding happiness has a special way of reminding a person that fancy things don’t carry any eternally significant value.  People do.  Something sweet surfaces in struggle.

In the times of extravagant, undeserved blessings, I find it natural to thank God and profess my love, even to the point of telling Him he doesn’t have to give so much.  Haha–but in the times of sacrificing and being stretched, I find it natural to fight back with a childish “nooo!”  Of course, He has brilliantly given me the opportunity to prove I meant it when I said I would love Him even if life were harder.

I write this with humility, friends, because I don’t mean for a second to say that living on a budget is the ultimate sacrifice or trying experience.  My life could be much, much harder.

But instead of comparing who has it worst and best, will you be so bold as to see struggle as God’s outstretched hand, inviting you to draw nearer to Him for the comfort and love He promises to bring the poor, downcast, and broken-hearted?

The God of the Bible proves his faithfulness over and over and over again throughout the Scriptures, but what about our faithfulness?  Easy lives don’t require much faith {right?}, but difficult times are fertile ground for God, and us, to prove our love and devotion to each other.  I do not believe God enjoys seeing us in pain, but I firmly believe He enjoys refining us so we can serve Him and the human race with more holiness and wisdom and personal life experience to draw from. 

Do we unconditionally trust this God who gives grace and love without condition? The world may call us fools for the way we trust Him, but let’s foolishly forget the world and embrace whatever challenge, big or small, God is allowing us to face today.

♥  stacy

{lovely wedding day photo credits:  AO Photographers}

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As a non-mom blogger, I will make no effort to compete with the great motherly blogs out there.  How could I?  I’m not a mom.  I’m a nanny.  My husband says I’m better than Mary Poppins {to which a friend recently retorted that I must use two spoonfulls of sugar…haha…}

A common point for teasing caregivers is of course to say something like, “What a great gig!  You get paid to hang out with kids and then get to drive away kid-free at the end of the day.”  I won’t pretend for a minute there isn’t some truth in this.  It’s wonderful to receive paychecks.  It’s wonderful, especially on long days that included some sort of temper tantrum, to retreat to the serenity of my car as I drive home and replace the noise of battery-operated Fisher-Price lullabies with the radio station of my choice.  Care giving IS a great gig…..however…..

the “yeah, I just get to drive away!” joke isn’t one I choose to make.

A mom once told me, “You know, I spend a lot of time at home with my kids, but my kids aren’t the only thing I have to take care of.  They’re the most important thing, for sure!, but I can’t always give them my full attention.  When you come over, you kind of get to do that.”  She laughed.  “It must be nice!  I might be a little jealous!”

In nannying I’ve found a unique opportunity to practice the easier-said-than-done art of just being with and enjoying kids for who they are.  I have the chance to intentionally show children affection and help them know and feel the depth of their worth…and there isn’t much else pulling me in opposing directions.  I’d never thought of it this way before, but I don’t also need to clean the fridge, get an oil change, and take Fido to the groomer:  I’m just there for the kids.

Since the mother shared this comment, I sometimes pump myself up on my drive to work with a motivational speech of sorts.  That’s right:  I’d love to say I wake up everyday with all the motives and heart of a perfect nanny.  Some days I come pretty close, others, I’m miserably far from the target.  On the off-target days, I take an extra spoon full of sugar in my latte and choose to own my attitude with a little pep talk:

“These kids will be spoiled by my affection today.  By my willingness to listen to their ideas.  By my genuine curiosity about what’s on their hearts.  They love to play, so I will play hard today.  I will forsake the annoying adult in me that thinks too much about clean-up time and wants to skip ahead a few hours to nap.  The kids in my care will get my best from me today because I’m deciding right now I want them to have it.”

Ensuring safety and meeting physical needs, as well as a few minutes here and there swiping Clorox wipes and picking up wayward grains of rice from ALL THE WAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE KITCHEN are realities for parents and nannies alike, but I believe there is plenty of room in the every-day-ness of a day to be fully alive, responsive and in tune to little companions.

And maybe the thought is crossing your mind right now, like it is mine, that big people enjoy receiving this kind of devotion, too.

Who in your life needs to know you are willing to set aside time to share in the things they love–just because you love that person?  What can you deny yourself today to leave someone close to you feeling like the most important, loved person in the world?  Working with kids, I learn constantly that it normally doesn’t cost me much;  it starts with an intentional adjustment in my thinking.

My father-in-law treats his grand kids like they are the most precious and special people in the world. Here, they count how long it takes the sun to set.

So there ya have it…. I don’t joke about getting to drive away from the kids at the end of the day;  I’m finding it’s a lot more rewarding {and just plain fun} to shift focus off my stinkin’ self and onto what more I can give of myself during the time we are together.

{Now when I have kids of my own, who’s going to tap me on the shoulder and remind me all this?}  :)

Today, let’s foolishly abandon something we don’t really need to love someone who really needs to be loved.

♥  stacy

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{hello}

It doesn't always make sense-the way we live. We decide that's ok. People don't have to get it. Welcome to Foolish for Light, a place for exploring the counter-intuitive life of a light-chaser.

{foolish?}

Foolish for Light is a place for anyone willing to challenge the way things have to be done. I'm kind of perfectly fine being called foolish as I chase the Light of the world. You?