Just Me

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"NEW" Details...Part 4...

I have shared about the hard year I have had this year. Many times through this year, I waited on the NEW thing...the good thing...the fun thing...the exciting thing. And it didn't seem to happen. I stood in front of our Bible study group in October and said "God is running out of time to do the NEW thing He promised, He better get busy!!" 

I have shared that I have battled loneliness this year. The depth though, no one but those closest to me really knows. I know God fills the voids in our life, that He is enough. Period. But part of who I am is a help-meet. And when that other side is missing, HOW?? How do you fill that part?? How does God step in and "BE" that physical person in our life?? I think the magnitude of that void was partly due to the caretaking that Dave required. It went above and beyond the normal and it became part of who I am. I believe that one of my calls in this life is to be a Godly wife...so how does that fit in the life of a single, widowed mom?? I have battled greatly this year.

In Dec last year, I decided to join Christian Mingle again. More out of curiosity than hope. Just to see what might be out there. I did message a couple of men and even met one and developed a friendship with him. But honestly...it was HORRIFYING!!! I realized this world is full of FREAKS!!! Not the kind of pond I care to "fish" in. 

I went to IHOP in July with a dear friend. Before we went, I was praying over some things specifically that I wanted God to direct in while we were there and had time in the prayer room. And He did...in every area!!! One thing that I felt he was saying was I needed to step back from that hope and get off line. When we had time in the prophetic room, that word was spoken over me. I was in a "waiting season, a season of deepening"...hmmmm....I had no idea what the next few months would hold. And it was needful that I be focused on the Lord for the journey ahead. When I got home from IHOP, I stopped my account. 

I can't say that I walked those months focused and strong. Some of my loneliest days were during that period of deepening. I am sure partly due to the enemy fighting me. God was working and leading in my life and doing what needed done. And I am thankful for it.

I had no idea what was ahead though...

I knew that my subscription to Christian Mingle was expiring in early December. So, on December 1st, in a moment of nothing else to do and curiosity, I decided to log in and just see what was new on there since I last logged on. No intentions. No hopes. No plan other than log on and get back off before the account expired. 

Then he sent me a smile...

"Hi, I really like your profile...want to tell me more??"

"Thanks!!! What would you like to know??"

And the rest,as they say, is history. 

Yes, I have an amazing man walking life with me right now. To say things are going well would be an understatement. It's natural. It's easy. It feels so right. I can't say enough good things about this man! I am blown away (and often cry) when I am thanking God for him. We just click. Our humor is eerily the same...twisted, a little off, sarcastic...I have laughed and smiled so much this month that my face hurts! He is a total gentleman and has a deep respect for women...a respect you don't often see in this world. He is an amazing father. He is a very hard worker. He encourages me. He edifies me. He is a man of prayer...

I have a list of standards for whomever I marry. It is a 2 part list...one is a list the necessities...one is a list of wants. The wants are selfish desires that I have, bonuses from Jesus! He fits that bonus list...and fits it in an exceedingly abundantly way!!! The requirement list is yet to be seen....some I know he fits already, some require time to determine if the shoe fits...but it looks good so far! And it is so exciting!!!! And God continues to speak to me and He is saying to walk in this and enjoy what is in front of me.

To say that this man is "NEW" would win the understatement prize!!! I am LOVING this NEW adventure in my life!!!

NEW...think about that...God told me that was my word for 2014. I reflect on this year and though some of the NEW was not easy, it was worth it. As my year was winding down in October and I was walking through a HARD season, I really wondered what God would do before the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve...I had no idea the HUGE blessing headed my way. I had no idea that I would sit and reflect and be thankful for the redemption and restoration that would be possible before that moment!!! 


I still don't have my word for 2015...I'm sure when He reveals it, I will share it...whatever it is, I know I can count on it. He is faithful. He is good! Always. 

In the hard. He is good.
In the day to day. He is good.
In the pain. He is good.
In the NEW. He is good.
In the loneliness. He is good.
In His plan. He is good.
In the doubt. He is good.
In the valley. He is good.
On the mountaintop. He is good.
Always. He is good.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"NEW" Details...Part 3...

More "NEW" for you today...

This one is so exciting to me!!! And I need to back track a little in time to give you the details.

I have been in church my entire life. I was taught at an early age to be involved in the local body of believers and have always been actively involved serving in my church. Whether it was singing, playing the piano, helping with VBS or the nursery...I was always involved. 

Dave and I began attending Fellowship in Oct 2009. I came from a traditional church setting and so the contemporary way of doing church was new to me. So, for a while I sat and soaked and observed. And looking back I needed that time of rest and even more importantly-growth! 

A few years ago the Lord started stirring in me...what was next?? What was going to be the way I serve in my local church body?? I started thinking about ways I had served in the past...music, kids ministry, teen ministry, women's ministry...where would God have me now??

As I began to think about those things, I thought of the verse that says, "who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." And then I started to think over my life...

I have faced a lot of difficulties in life...from my childhood on. I know the pain many women walk in through this life. I've experienced divorce, which included infidelity. I have done the marrying a second time and blending a family and I know the difficulties and challenges that can brings. I have done the fight of cancer. Then terminal cancer. I know widowhood. I know the prodigal child. I know the echo of singleness. I know single parenting (twice). I know marriage hardship. And other areas of life hardship...

BUT, I also know the One who got me through it all...

AND I love to tell my story of the One who got me through it all...

And I saw where God was calling me to serve.


So, I started to think about and seek how I would serve in that capacity. And God began to open some doors. 

The first was with a non-profit organization called the "Lily Closet". Our purpose is to minister to single parents and provide clothing and out reach to them. When I joined I wasn't a single parent, but I know single parent and I have a heart for them and the load they carry. It was an obvious door that God had opened for me and I walked through it. It has been such a blessing to minister with this group over the past couple of years. And it was a start in my call to minister to women.

The next door that opened was to take over our Friday morning Bible study at church. I have now been in charge of that for 2 years and I love our time together each week. My first Bible study changed my life and I pray other women experience life change through our time as well. It knits hearts and provides that connecting that we as women need with the loads we carry in this life! It has been a gift to be able to walk in this calling!

A couple of years ago, I looked around my church and knew we needed more. I even approached a couple of our pastors and tried to get things going, but God seemed to say "Wait." I wasn't sure why at the time, but trusted His timing and purpose.

Last October after Dave had passed away and I was settling into the new life in front of me, I felt like God was saying to begin. So, I set up a meeting with a couple of ladies that I felt God had directed me to approach and we got our heads together about what was next...we needed ideas to share with the leadership and a goal. And we knew we needed more for women at Fellowship. We came up with the idea to do a survey and see what feedback we got from the women we wanted to minister to. The pastors thought it was a good idea so we did it...and the response was amazing...the response was God saying "YES!"

I didn't know it...but at the same time that this was going on, God was stirring in the hearts of some other ladies in the church. When the survey came out, they contacted me and wanted to meet and share what God was doing in them. We had no idea at the time, but one lady in our church was already planning on doing the Priscilla Shirer simulcast in the spring...God was all over the "YES NOW" for the women of our church. We began meeting together and the Lord was leading and opening doors for the women. It was such an exciting time of YES from the Lord!!

We have had several organized events for the women this year. We have more Bible study options than before. We are planning our first one day conference for February 7th (and not just for the women of our church, for anyone interested!) It is so exciting to be part of this work..this calling that God has in my life.

As we met and prayed about what God had for us in leadership, we prayed also for God to direct in the structure of our ministry and He has done so. Our leader asked us to each pray what area we were to serve in the leadership team. God led me to co-leader of prayer. The "ironic" thing is, that over the past couple of years, God has been deepening my prayer walk. I had no idea He would call me to serve in that way in the leadership team for the women of our church. It has been an honor and privilege for me!!! I am thankful!

So, the "NEW" today that I share is my calling. A call to reach out and encourage women. 

Women who carry the weight of the world on their shoulder and just need to connect with other women who carry the same weight load.
Women who have a hard, empty marriage.
Women with a prodigal.
Women who hear the word "cancer".
Women who bury their husband.
Women who walk through being cheated on.
Women who are lonely.
Women who are the only parent in their home.
Women who have ghosts from the past yelling in their ears.
Women who need to see themselves the way God sees them!
Women who hurt.


I am blessed and honored that God placed this desire in my heart. It has been a thrilling adventure to meet with other women of our church and plan and follow what God is doing. It thrills my heart when I sit in a room packed with women and SEE what God has done in the past year for the women there! What an amazing adventure it has been! And I am so thankful I got to sit and watch it all unfold!!! 


Monday, December 29, 2014

"NEW" Details...Part 2...

Want some more of my "NEW"?? Here goes...

I am an emotional eater. Always have been. It has been such an outlet for me and the stresses in my life. When I turned 40, I determined to get into the best health that I could. I began weight watchers and lost about 25 lbs and also started running and got myself to the point of running 5K, I just never ran an official 5k. In May that year, I started having some foot issues and stopped running  until it eased up. Then summer came and it was crazy busy. I also have a difficult time with feeling defeated when I can't accomplish something. When I hit the track again, I was so discouraged and was no where near what I was before the foot problem. So between the two, I quit. Then in August of that year, we were told Dave was terminal. At that point, I had to take a backseat and I had to start focusing on his care and the care of my kids. So, taking care of me was not the priority. Slowly, during that time, I gained back the 25 lbs I had lost plus another 10. 

Once Dave passed away, it was time for me again. Since I had a lot on my plate and knew I had a lot of healing and processing to do, I decided to "baby step" changes in my life. My first, was on July 26, 2013 when I gave up pop. I basically drank a cup of coffee when I got up and drank pop the rest of the day. This was a huge step for me and I was so proud as each day went by and I wasn't drinking pop. I still have not had any and I do not miss it!! 

I knew I needed to make some more changes, but wasn't sure what was next. A couple of months later, a few of my friends started using Isagenix. I watched as they were sharing their success stories and decided that I would give it a try as well. So, on Dec 9, 2013, I jumped on that bandwagon and decided to get some weight off...like 70 lbs of weight off. Could I really do this??? That is a pretty lofty goal...

One of the things that Isagenix discourages is drinking coffee...anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE coffee. But I decided if I could give up pop, I could do coffee too. So my last cup of coffee was on Dec 8, 2013. My goal was to not drink any till I hit my goal weight, but I ended up making it ONE ENTIRE YEAR without a drop!!! On Dec 9, 2014, I had my first cup of coffee...YUMMMMM!!!!! So delicious in taste...but SO TERRIBLE in how I felt after I drank it!!! My mouth was running faster than my head and I felt like someone was twisting me inside between my heart and my stomach. HORRIBLE!!!! So bad, that I am almost afraid to drink it again! Decaf please??? And to think I used to NEED this to function?!?!?!

Then another baby step came in January when I started jogging again. I started training on my treadmill and was very dedicated to getting up at 4:00 every day and working out first thing! I was using the couch to 5k program, determined that I would run an official 5K this year. And in May, I did just that!!! There was nothing like that moment of crossing the finish line on something I NEVER would have dreamed I could accomplish! NEW!!!! I have continued to run and I love it! It is my therapy-physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually! I had a set-back in August when I started having pain in my knee and it got really bad. I was so depressed thinking I was going to need surgery and I knew that I would be laid up for a while. I also remembered what happened when I had a foot injury 2 years ago...it really depressed me. After attempting to just rest the knee for a while and seeing no improvement, I went to the doctor expecting to hear I had a torn meniscus...but instead he said it was a tendon issue and I could return to running as I was able to tolerate it!!! I was ecstatic...and scared too that I would give up. But...I was determined...and I started on Week 1 Day 1 of my 5k training. I didn't even feel like I was running when I started again. When I stopped I was doing 3 cycles of 17 min run/1 min walk...and now I was doing next to nothing. But I slowly rebuilt...slowly...and I once again am able to run 5K...my goal is 10k and I will do it! My favorite run is getting up on Sunday morning and running the sun up while listening to my worship and praying and thinking. I am even running OUTSIDE in the cold...Yes folks, miracles happen! 

Back to the weight loss...Most of my journey in my health has occurred in 2014. I hit it hard and strong for the first part of the year then really started battling with emotional eating again after all the problems I was having with my daughter. So from April until Nov, I yo-yo'd the same 5-7 lbs. By the end of Nov, I saw that the scale was starting to creep up again, not a lot, but enough for me to know either I was going to keep going up or do something about it and get serious again. So, a friend of mine and I determined to hit it hard as of Dec 1st. And I have!!!  I am currently down 63 pounds and only 7 more to go to reach my goal!!! I have gained so much confidence and feel good about how I look...for the first time in my life. I still can't believe the girl looking back at me in the mirror!!! 

This journey has been a huge "NEW" in my life for many reasons. I have proven to myself what I CAN do...that when I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it and accomplish it well! I have a "NEW" life in front of me and have done some things I never would have done 63 lbs ago! The old has past, the NEW has come!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"NEW" Details...Part 1...

My blog world friends know that my word for the year was "NEW". I have blogged many times about the struggles of my year, but didn't give specific details because I choose carefully what I write. I don't want to reveal what I shouldn't and bring shame to anyone. 

However, I feel it is time to share details and share my story of 2014. It was not the "NEW" I ever would have picked. It's not the way I would have chosen my year to go...but this is how it went...and with her permission...this is our story.

Sarah is my oldest child. She has a radiant personality. She has also been the one to give me the most gray hair! We have had struggles in our relationship for several years. She is a very "determined" girl and we butted heads often. 

Everything came to a head though in February, when after some bad choices she made, I put my foot down and told her if she didn't want to follow the rules in our home, she was free to leave.

And she did.

And I was devastated.

I walked through it at first with my feet firmly planted on the truth of the word. God gave me the word "No matter how today's page in my book of life looks, the enemy does not get to write the final chapter". And I was trusting God that He would bring my prodigal back home. I knew it could be long. I knew it could be painful. I knew it could be hard. But I also knew He was holding her. 

But...then in March...the grief hit. And it hit hard. I sank into somewhat of a depression over her. This was her Senior year and I was missing everything that I as a parent, who had raised their child, should not have to miss. I would sit in my van at the bus stop and she would walk by me like I was invisible. Knife to the heart. There were choices made that shattered my already broken heart into even more pieces. It was a HARD season for me.

I then started to question God..."WHY?? After all I have been through, why this?? Why now?? Why her?? I am not Superwoman. I am human." My faith was rocked at it's core this year. I was angry. I was alone. I was rejected. 

In July, she came home for about 2 months. I was walking in the hope that we were on our way back to being mom and daughter again.Things went well for the first month, then we started having some of the same issues again. Choices were being made that I could not tolerate in my home. And so I spoke with her again and told her that if things didn't change, we would need to make some decisions. So she left. 


She chose what I would not choose for her. Now what?? Jesus, help me get through this process. 

Around the end of October she and her boyfriend came over one Sunday afternoon to visit. She then told me she had some news for me and showed me a picture of a pregnancy test that was indicating positive. I was going to be a grandmother. She was going to be a mother. 

Emotions all over the place. Thoughts started spinning. 

She is 19. Her whole life is ahead of her. And now a baby. 

They left and I went outside and did a LOT of crying and thinking and talking to God. I sat for over an hour and poured out my heart. 

This is not what anyone would choose for their child. But it is where I am...now what?

As I sat and cried and prayed and cried and cried some more, the Lord spoke two things into my heart and mind..."Stephanie, I breathe life...I gave that life..." and He also reminded me that "My ways are not your ways...trust me!" 

That helped, but my emotions were so raw and my thoughts were all over the place. So I did what I knew I had to do...I plugged into truth. I scheduled an appointment with my counselor and dug in deep to what God promises in His word. I was blessed that this happened to fall during the week of two special services at my church. 

On Wednesday, I attended Fan into Flame. My first one to attend in the five years I have been at Fellowship. And the first word spoken was "If you are facing disappointments in life, raise your hands and then those around you will pray over you!" Ummm YES!! ME ME ME!!! And several laid hands on me and prayed! And I could feel the peace of God being released. Then the last word shared was "You need to be thankful for something...start thanking God!" And so I did. I thanked God for the gift of a sweet grandbaby! The gift of life! She could have chosen an abortion and no one would have ever known. But she didn't. And so I did. I thanked God that I have a sweet grandbaby to look forward to holding. 


By the next evening, I was doing better with it all. There was a worship and prayer night planned at our Springhill campus and I attended that as well. I went with a much different heart and mindset than I had even the morning before. God was filling me with peace and love. And I was able to go, pray, and worship my Savior. 

I have had the privilege of being at Sarah's doctors appts with her. The last one, I saw my grandbaby...the little hands by the little face! I have heard the sweet heartbeat twice and twice my heart has skipped a beat!!! FINALLY...one I can spoil then send home! Or pass off when they cry...or have a poopy diaper...

Sarah is now more than my daughter. She is my friend. Our relationship has transitioned and it is fun and many times beautiful. I got to buy her, her very first maternity outfit...she looked so cute with the baby bump that is forming! Such an honor for me. And when I looked at her standing there, I was in awe. Not just over the fact that I saw my daughter who is going to be a mom, but I saw the gift of God's restoration of a broken relationship. 

Sarah has been open with my kids about her choices and that they need to choose better. She is seeing and I am thankful! This road could have been so much longer...and so much uglier...

She gave me a card for Christmas and I want to share what she wrote...as I read it, the tears poured...Thank you God!!! You are so good!!!

There are not enough words for the love and appreciation we have towards you!
 You are the best mom a kid could ask for and soon to be the best GiGi a grandkid could ask for! 
We love you so much. And I thank you for raising me in a loving Christian family! 
We love you more than anything! 
Sarah and Jeff


On January 1st this year...when I knew what my word was, I though I also had an idea about how my year would go. I had done the hard stuff....for a long time. So the "NEW" was going to be a year filled with good stuff. Smooth sailing. Happiness. Contentment. Joy. Maybe even love?? Then February hit and the "NEW" was not what I anticipated. It was more of the hard...really hard...faith rattling hard. 

But when I sit today and reflect on the 361 days that I have called 2014, I see "NEW" and lots of it. As I walked the path, I didn't see the turns, twists, and destination. But God did. His ways are not my ways. And His ways are good...I don't just have my daughter back, I have a friend. 

And that my friends is "NEW"!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The End of My "NEW" Year...

This year has been a year full of things I did not anticipate walking through. As you all know, the Lord gave me a word for the year and it was "NEW". Well, this year was full of new, but not the new I had anticipated. 

My year started out with lots of new...I was losing weight, embracing the life God had given me and accepting where I was in life, filled with hope for a wonderful, better year ahead. 

Then "life" happened...basically a shattering for me. Within about a month, I found my faith being shaken at it's very core. I tried to walk through strong, full of hope, but hope was lost. I questioned God..."WHY??? After all I have been through?? WHY MORE PAIN?!?! I am human. I have been through ENOUGH!"

The Lord did breathe hope into my life throughout this year. I can't say that I have walked a victorious, faith-filled year, but I kept walking. I read a book this spring that helped me out in this process. The Lord let me know that I was gripping dreams and hopes, too tightly. I had to release (well, He had to do some prying)  my fingers off of those dreams and hopes that I held so dear to my heart. I had to trust Him in a way that I never had to before. It was not an easy process...I can be a tad thick-headed...but lovingly He worked and wooed my heart to the point of me letting Him have my hopes, dreams, pain, loneliness, relationships, anything that had a higher place in my life than it should have...it was challenging and a process, but He faithfully got me through it. 

I had the wonderful experience of visiting IHOP (International House of Prayer) this summer with a dear friend! That was a "NEW" experience for me and changed my life. God spoke clearly to my heart while I was there and so much hope and renewed strength was poured into my heart while we attended. The word from the Lord was powerful and life altering and I am so blessed to have that NEW experience!! Now, to figure out a way to get back there and soak up the prayer room again...

I continue my weight loss journey! Through the difficulties this year, I stopped really working on it. I am now less than 10 lbs from my goal and I feel amazing! I am continuing to jog and I still love it! I had some knee issues in Sept that got me off the track for a while, but it didn't stop me!!! I feel great!

Another NEW....Myrtle Beach! I have cherished, wonderful memories from that trip! I am so thankful and blessed that as a single, widowed mom, I was able to take my kids there!! We laughed...we made memories...memories that I cherish and hold close to my heart!

A very NEW thing for me, is  in July 2015, I will become a Gi-Gi...a Glammy Grammy!!! I am in denial that I am (old) enough to be a grandmother...but apparently I am! I am excited about this little one that God breathed life into...I got to see it's sweet little face in an ultrasound last week...it melted Gi-Gi!!! Oh be still my heart...

I remember standing in front of my Bible study group in Oct and sharing a testimony that God was running out of time for Him to do His "NEW" thing in my life. But, as I sit now, on December 17th, 2014, and I look back... I see it. He is so faithful...

Life. My life is NEW. I am in a completely different place today than I was on Jan 1, 2014. I am a new person. I have sat on the potter's wheel for most of this year. It is a hard place, pounding, stretching, forming, smashing, then forming more...the Potter's hands at work. I hope I look a little more like Jesus than I did on Jan 1, 2014 this year. I know I have had that "deepening" in my walk with the Lord  that was spoken over me at IHOP. Oh, we have gone deeper...painfully deeper...but I sit today rejoicing. I SEE the NEW...it was a slow process. Not something that happened over night, but I am a NEW creation...so many old things have passed away and become NEW in my life. 

God is STILL doing some NEW things as the year draws to a close...I am listening, following, and filled with hope. He is such a good, good Abba daddy! I am looking forward to the next adventure in the new year...I think my adventures have just begun...stay tuned!