home stephanies story GEMS ministry stephanie speaks contact testimonials

Monday, November 29, 2010

Enter His Courts with Thanksgiving

This time of year stirs a sense of nostalgia in me. I fondly remember Thanksgivings spent with my ever-increasing family (we're 95 and counting) around white banquet tables glistening with crystal and fine china. The smell of turkey, pork roast, and honey-glazed ham lingered in the air intermingled with the familiar scents of rice dressing, sweet potato casserole, homemade mac-n-cheese, stuffed potatoes, green bean casserole, cheesy asparagus, and shrimp and broccoli rice casserole.

As a little girl, my favorite part of Thanksgiving was the food, but as I've gotten older, my favorite part has become our tradition of standing to share what we're thankful for. Not only has my favorite part of Thanksgiving changed, but what I'm most thankful for has changed as well.

I used to be most thankful for tangible things like my family, my health, and my possessions. But this year I've spent some time reflecting on the intangible: God's love for me, His amazing grace, and His perfect purpose for my life.

Stop and ponder the incredible reality that God doesn’t call you His servant—He calls you His friend (John 15:15). God loves you so much that He stooped down from heaven, rescued you from sin, and wrapped you in the cloak of His grace.

He offers you an immense revelation because He created you to impact the world, and the magnitude of your destiny can’t be fully understood this side of heaven. You’re on assignment from God, chosen to go and love others and offer them the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

God has a magnificent plan for your life. He has appointed you with a purpose no one else on this Earth can fulfill. “You are the only you this world will ever know. And something about your life is meant to make something about God known in a way that no else can.” (Dan Allender)

So rejoice with me today that we serve a God that not only redeems us but refines us to be used for His glory. Let's "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:4-5

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Waiting on the Harvest- Part 2

Do you ever sense God is weaving a theme throughout your life? I always know when God is trying to teach me a lesson because He repeats His message in sermons I hear, songs I sing, or scriptures I read. Sometimes I think He might as well write it in the sky.

If God hopped on a jet plane today and decided to skywrite me a message, I'm sure the puffy white clouds would spell W-A-I-T.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't particularly like to wait. I wouldn't say I wait well. I can be impatient and irritable while I'm waiting, especially if it's something I'm passionate about. So it shouldn't surprise me that since I wrestle with waiting, God has decided it's time to sow the fruit of patience in my life.

I should have seen this season coming two months ago when my pastor lost my manuscript. Yes, you read that right. That manuscript contained hours worth of revisions splattered in red ink. I hadn't made a copy for myself before I gave it to him, and in an instant, all my hard work vanished.

Five days later, my pastor called me to tell me there was still no sign of my manuscript. I chuckled and told him I thought God was teaching me how to wait. Seconds later, his secretary walked through his office door holding my manuscript in her hand. Astonished, he said, "you'll never guess what Pat just handed me!" As soon as I surrendered, God showed up.

In that moment, God reminded me of an important truth.

There's always a divine purpose unfolding while we wait. God often brings us through a season of waiting to reveal to us something about ourselves that He already knows but that we desperately need to see.

If my manuscript hadn't been lost, I would've turned it in early. But I was forced to re-revise my writing while I waited, and I found mistakes I hadn't noticed the first time around. The Lord also showed me I needed to add an entire layer to my manuscript that strengthened it substantially.

So when I received an email last week from the editor I've been working with, I knew God was weaving His message in my life once again. She informed me that her pre-pub board meeting ran long and told me my proposal's review got moved to after Thanksgiving.

And instead of turmoil or angst, I felt complete and utter peace.

We often desire instant gratification. Immediate answers. Instantaneous results.

But that's rarely how God works. The heroes of the faith all had one thing in common- they waited for God to make the impossible possible.

What about you? Is there something you're waiting for today? Something that seems hopelessly impossible because you feel like you've been waiting forver?

Then let these words from Habakkuk 2:3 soothe your soul - "The vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come. It will not delay."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Waiting on the Harvest

It's been a whirlwind of a week ... filled with a whirlwind of emotions. After a fun day of shopping last Friday with my mother-in-law, Lorraine, and my daughter, Grace, we traipsed through the door at 8:00 p.m. exhausted.

As I sat down at my computer to check my email, butterflies flittered in my stomach. It was a little over four weeks since I had heard from the editor regarding my book proposal, and I knew she said she needed up to four weeks to give me a response. I hurriedly scanned my Inbox, but as the bold black letters of her name crystallized before my eyes, my heart skipped a beat.

This was it- acceptance or rejection.

I breathed in deeply and opened her email. I don't think I've ever read one so quickly. My black desk chair almost toppled over from the force of my body as I leapt from my seat. I screamed "PRAISE THE LORD" at the top of my lungs and literally danced around my yellow kitchen. You should have seen my Praise Jesus dance!! I could've given David a run for his money (2 Samuel 6:14). My mother-in-law quickly joined in, and we were both jumping for joy. Grace looked at us with a crooked smile as if we had both lost our minds. But once I explained to her that her mommy's Bible study was going to be presented to a publishing board, she rose from her seat and began dancing too!

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the emotional high of Friday night to be replaced by an emotional low. Fear replaced confidence. Doubt replaced belief. And before I knew it, I was completely overwhelmed.

What if my proposal actually got accepted? How would I juggle writing a book with mothering three children seven and under and homeschooling two of them? What if I didn't have the endurance to pen an entire curriculum? What if I let the publisher down? I was plagued with what ifs. No one in the publishing world ever told me that success was just as scary as failure.

But then I remembered that God is not the Father of fear. That title belongs to the Devil. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I don't have to be afraid because God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called.

One of my devotions this week in Jesus Calling summed it up superbly.

Walk peacefully through this day. You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you. You must traverse this day like any other: one step at a time. Instead of mentally rehearsing how you will do this or that, keep your mind on My Presence and on taking the next step. The more demanding your day, the more help you can expect from me. This is a training opportunity, since I designed you for deep dependence on your Shepherd-King.

Walk peacefully.

Don't wonder- trust.

Take one step at a time.

Keep my mind filled with the perfect presence of Christ.

Expect more help when the days are demanding.

Realize I'm traversing God's training ground.

So I've vowed to walk peacefully and wait expectantly on the harvest. And even if I have to run to the horizon seven times before God answers (1 Kings 18:44), my prayer is that I'll run believing He is able.