Three Secrets (part three)

Three Secrets (part three)
All they knew was the star

The three secret travelers from East to West they trod, across unknown lands to an unknown country to a place they were unsure of.

All they knew was a longing to worship a baby king of the Jews they did not know, but had seen in the signs of the stars.

They were prepared to give great gifts they had purposed in their hearts to give fully.

These three men paused their daily ritualistic and habitual life to travel and their desire was to seek and find the place they were called to worship a great king.

Three wise men they are called in our culture ~ but seriously?
Where they wise in the eyes of humankind?

These men traveled with great faith, with confidence and certainty that their belief in what they read in the stars was foretelling the birth of a great king ~ they were great visionaries. They were coming to worship, a carefully planned and executed trip. They had sacrificed by bringing great and expensive gifts. In their own home towns they probably did not look wise nor most certainly could not have looked very ‘wise’ to their closest friends and relatives.

Yet they chose to follow a star…

 
He said all he did was only in response to what he saw his Heavenly Father doing first. So we find Jesus travelling from town to town and living in different homes nightly seeking those that needed him the most – even his beloved mother ‘missed’ his call at that point in time, for she and Jesus’ brothers came to bring him home – they thought he had surely lost his mind! He dismissed their cries ~ instead seeking a higher voice, ignoring their demands to come home and act sensibly, he continued to proclaim to strangers, sinners and those with no social status that the people right in front of him were home, complete with mother, brother and sisters. How bold! How disrespectful? Maybe, maybe not. The wise men were not distracted from their call, nor were Mary and Joseph in the beginning. But at this point Jesus’ own family unit went away shaking their heads, empty handed and missing the point…Jesus was following His Father in Heaven.

*****

He couldn’t talk because he found it hard to believe that he and his wife would have a son – even when an Angel stood in front of him in the most holy place, he didn’t believe. He was struck dumb. The child was born anyway – and the High Priest named his son, finally after the child’s birth he understood and so he wrote: His name was John and his voice was returned. Everyone was amazed – what will this child become?

*****

We traveled to a distant land, no friends or family lived near. Faith? Wisdom? No, we were following a star born inside our heart. A walk that we knew we would walk, though the path seemed much more difficult than the ones mentioned above. We didn’t know where we would end up but we were walking by faith, when family and friends thought we were mad we walked on, when the unexpected miracle here and there met us, we rejoiced with great joy.
Then came the cross…
The seasons of suffering, the seasons of pruning…
The wondering and pondering IF our faith was really foolishness…
The doubt, resignation and obligation to go where and work with whom we were placed.

It was an unusual walk, to the world, our friends and family we looked like failures many times, the ‘your parents did…’ and then the silence shouted out ‘but look where you are’ and then the ‘could have been’ unstated statements broke our wills from needing other’s approval and was minuscule to our own self-doubt and condemnation shouting in our ears “failure”. The ‘should have’s’ crowded out the ‘what was’ and it blinded us to the multiple daily obedience steps taken out of shear pain and remorse but none-the-less more beautiful in God’s eyes. We were our own jury, the judges and the sentence jailers –

heaven wept.

Wept in a similar way to when Jesus’ family walked away instead of pressing in. Similar to the cross, Jesus was pruned, his strength taken and all was given – even his spirit. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Now I die daily said Paul.

*****

A Pondering way of Faith 
Each day we have a choice, do we walk forward each day, one step, another step, a step into the darkness? OR Do we stop believing, trusting, stepping out in faith? Is this what it means to live by faith, to live in the tug and pull of not knowing and wondering if our faith is foolishness – yet continuing anyway?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1-2

The ancients listed in Hebrews and many other places in the Bible did not SEE what they hoped for, they did not SEE Jesus the Messiah. Joseph did not SEE Jesus grow up to adulthood, John the Baptist did not SEE Jesus raised from the dead. Those that knew Jesus and saw his resurrection or for those of us that believe he overcame death live in HOPE by FAITH. Jesus said it best, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”

To move out of our own comfort zone taking steps of faith in something beyond ourselves is what each one of these life examples have in common, and specifically ONE thing in common:

Jesus.

I Still Ponder these Questions as I walk day by day in his care ~

*What type of action step is worthy of a step of faith this year, month, day – moment by moment – a calculated risk, an action that might have multiple consequences and rewards?

*Where and how will the action steps challenge me to further trust in God, whom I cannot see, but for whom there is countless evidence to proclaim His presence?

*How will the action steps impact those in my sphere of influence?

*Are these steps that I can accomplish in my own strength or will I desperately need the Lord’s hand and strength to accomplish His purpose?

*How is God leading me, through whom and what will my answer be to His call to walk by faith not by sight?

Each day is filled with the wonder of the knowledge

that His hand is guiding my Life because He loves me.

Stacey Britton
Reflection Excerpts December 20, 2016-February 20, 2017

One Step at a Tiime

One Step as a Time

It’s not a story about a couple who chose to step out in faith.

It’s a story of a God who met them there.

It’s not a story of amounts, consistency or even generosity. It’s a story of a God who is faithful to His word and His promises.

It’s not a story, it is truth, THE truth that met two broken, fearful people and helped their unbelief.

The background…

There is one place in scripture where the Lord encourages his followers to ‘test me and see’ and this is in the area of giving our ‘first’ of everything. In this setting it is called a tithe, or first fruits.

On top of these first fruit tithes, offerings of praise and thanksgiving also are given to the Lord. He knows it is good for us to give in this way, it is character building, giving causes our focus to move away from what ‘we have’ to what we can give, but more importantly to whom we are giving to.

The story:

The turning point towards generosity began with a desperate choice to give over the normal tithe. It was desperate because he was struggling spiritually with the idea that it was God who was His provider. He had been a diligent, consistent, faithful worker for most of his life. Even as a child, work always came before play and dinner. He had become prideful, he knew this and he could no long live with the internal struggle. God was asking Him to let go of his control and trust God with a step of faith.

The turning point towards generosity over above the income she already made began with a promise. A promise to give every extra amount that came her way to missions. She began looking and expecting God to provide and was amazed with the ‘extras’ that came her way. As generosity came to her, she passed it along. As it was given to her, so she gave. Each time income would come her way she would share with her husband, the amounts became larger and larger. But they started with $5 gift cards that came to her. Her husband paid attention to what was happening and his faith grew to his turning point towards generosity. A year past.

The January he decided to step out in faith, they agreed together what they would do. They began to watch how God would provide. January his commissions were low just as they had been for over two years, he gave the amount anyway. February came his commissions doubled, March they double again, April the double again. The amounts of funds were sometimes difficult to keep up with because they were coming in so quickly.

As the money came in, the tithe or offering was quickly given.

He worked fewer hours, yet high commissions continued. Then God began growing their faith in different ways. May the first two week not many commission jobs were completed yet at the end of the month the Lord sent work just in time and for the amounts needed. This happened in June, July through to December. The testing was to an extent that if God did not come through there was no way that he would have any commission at all. Every month he was working few hours but remained the top sales person. They smiled with joy and kept giving as quickly as they received.

There is no way to out give God.

Stacey Britton Story/January 12, 2017

Secret Too

Keeping a secret

Secret Too (part two)

She sat on the donkey…

Uncomfortable but very aware that the secret she held in her heart would change the world from the point of his entry into this kingdom. Throughout His life she would ponder and hold many secrets of His identity and the holy way in which the angels of the Lord directed she and her husband before and after His birth. Mary pondered her secrets, wondered at their very meaning yet boldly took step after step of faith to carry and give birth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords: Jesus.

He led the donkey along a rocky road…

Obeying the decree to bring his family to Bethlehem, register and be counted for taxes. He held the secret that he was not the father, that an angel had indeed directed his decisions and that he too was walking by faith in obedience to a power that was and is above all others. He pondered the angel’s decree that the child Mary carried would save all people from their sins.

They did not return to Herod…

As they had promised for they realized through the spoken word of an angel that the child needed to be protected, not only provided for, but kept from the destruction and jealous actions of a prideful and arrogant King. So these wise men secretly returned to their own country after worshiping the King of Kings – an infant. While they slipped away another angel was dispatched to warn Joseph of the dangers they faced. They got up during the middle of the night and secretly traveled to another country.

All these actions fulfilled the secret…

Proclamations of prophets over centuries before His birth. Jesus, Savior, God born man, our Redeemer. His true Kingdom only known by those to whom God chose to review this secret. Peter, the rock was the first to proclaim the knowledge of His true Royalty. At the end of Jesus’ life the secrecy of His precious’ blood’s power was still hidden from the powerful, His resurrection first witnessed and proclaimed by mere women. His life, which was a secret in His own time, hidden in parables and His radiance shrouded in humility and servant-hood. This Jesus, power given through serving, remained a secret and a hidden mystery.

Even today Jesus is a secret…

That God reveals to those He chooses, those who seek, and those who ponder His words. Even today His ways are beyond, the way He chooses to reveal himself amazingly secret and powerful.

What if…

Mary had proclaimed her secret?
Joseph had not acted upon the angel’s direction?
The Wise men had returned to Herod?
Joseph had remained in Bethlehem?
Jesus had not walked the way to the cross, fulfilling His secret mission to save the world?

I wonder… Is there a time to speak and a time to be silent?

Stacey Britton
December 11, 2016 Journal Entry

Secrets

Keeping a secret

Keeping a secret

Secrets (Part One)

You’re only as sick as your secrets.

This statement caught my attention as it floated through my mind when I sat in my comfy chair contemplating how many secrets I held in my heart. Secrets that are the keys to my freedom so it would seem. I remembered the story of Jesus when he was asked who sinned, the blind man or his parents? The disciples were wanting to know who to pin the blame on – what was the secret of the blindness? Jesus told them neither had sinned – this man is blind so you may encounter the glory of God. (John 9:1-3) This man was ‘labeled’ a sinner because of a weakness in his flesh…he was blind.

 

Be sure your sins find you out…

…a statement that has followed me throughout my life flitted through my thoughts. One that is based in the idea that confession and forgiveness is the truest freedom we are given and receive. (Ps 44:21)

While living with several chronic diseases is humbling and challenging, there is that nagging question of culture that hangs in the air: Which sinned? Was it where I was raised, how I was raised or the chemicals in my brain not working properly because of lifestyle choices? Who sinned? These are deep questions I face, and then the deepest of all – where did I go wrong? Where did I sin? Did I sin to cause these calamities in my body? If the answers are given then I can apply the second part: Grace can be applied and freedom experienced. Some would say the reason is not important, but it is the living in Grace that is important. This train of thought takes me even deeper still, because then I live out my daily life in a grace that I cannot explain a Grace takes great faith –

Not to know, but only to trust – type of Grace, the grace of the man born blind.

After many years of walking this line, I’ve come to the reconciliation that there is no sin involved from the root of the illnesses, this statement seems easy to write, but I would tell you therein lies the glory of God revealed through this broken soul. I now stand in the doorway of learning how to walk the walk of answering my next question. So then…

How will God’s glory be shown in my life through this secret that weighs upon my soul?

A secret that brings such social injustice and scandal that it would compare to the loving act  of the prostitute pouring oil on Jesus’ feet. If I chose to reveal God’s mercy to me other’s most certainly would be blessed  however,

I live in Secret

It seems that I am bound by these secrets and ‘sick’ because if feels as if I am living a lie. It seems as if I am denying the largest place of ministry that God has accomplished in my life. It seems that I am remaining silent about the biggest healing that could benefit so many other souls that struggle with what ails me as well. So my questions have become:

If I were to share my secrets would my ‘sickness’ go away would I be healed?
Am I boxing up and stealing the glorious way God has touched my life?
Is the way to complete freedom, becoming like the blind man who told everyone how Jesus had healed his life?

I wonder… Is there a time to speak and a time to be silent?

Stacey Britton
Journal Entry December 10, 2016

The Altar Room

the-altar

Journal Entry September 17, 2012

Warrior: The Altar Room
An allegory

He stood in the entrance to the Most Holy Room. In front of him stood The Altar, The Cross and The Book; his heart was heavy from the day’s journey. He was unsure if he could walk to the front and kneel as was his custom. He continued to stand motionless, dressed in his white linen coverings used underneath his armor, fully clothed yet somehow he felt terribly exposed before the light of the presence in this room. This room, this Altar Room, was where the Almighty Physician’s presence could be sensed at its highest degree of cleansing and healing. He continued to stand motionless in the entrance, a quick glance told this war torn soldier there was no one in the room, but somehow he knew he was not alone.

Finally he took one painful breath and carefully took one step forward. The wooden plank floor gave way to the pressure of his step and it groaned in response. He paused, then continued to soak up the healing presence and continued to slowly make his way to the front of the room. The floor quietly gave testimony to his presence by the shifting planks, the groans and sounds emanating from the floor boards. Warrior did not hear the sounds; his focus was toward the front of the room and solely upon The Cross.

What was it about the symbol of The Cross? Why did it draw his attention at this moment? He tried to remember the lessons from past days. The Cross held the key to his wrestling heart – he knew this – but what was the connection to the Almighty Physician and to the gentle healing presence he felt in this room? This same presence that drew him each night as he returned from the Day of Battle filled with pain and suffering?

At this point all he knew was each night when he would enter this sacred place he left changed, the memories of past battles existed no more, the day’s killings, maiming’s and cutting wounds he delivered were washed away and he left with no pain, just the memory of what he had done.

Who was the Almighty Physician? What presence was in this room? Who and what did he relinquish his personal rights up for when he signed on as a fighter in the King’s Army? Tonight all he had were questions, but even in the midst of questions, in this place he found peace, restoration, forgiveness and hope.

What about that cross? He tried again to remember the stories from his childhood…

As he traveled the last few steps, they brought him to the front of the room, standing within touching distance of The Cross, The Book and The Altar. When he could take no further steps; he turned away and looked at the path behind him. He did not realize until that moment that he had been wounded for there was a trail of blood behind him.

That was the last thought he had before he crumpled to the floor at the foot of the cross.

~~~~~

Deep within her a struggle ensued, someone, somewhere was in trouble – wounded – yet who and where? The gentle bell ringing at her bedside woke her from the wrest-less sleep. She was needed in the Physician’s Upper Room. A healing in the middle of the night could not be a good sign. She quickly wondered if the Almighty Physician had warned her of the need ahead of time during her dreaming. Quickly she dressed for action and lightly, as a gazelle bounded from her room, up the three flights of stones stairs to the room of service.

She stopped in the doorway when she saw who lay upon the large stone slab. She knew he was one of the King’s Army Leaders. Her breath caught in her throat because she had never seen him in this room and he was severely bleeding. She whispered, “Oh, Almighty Physician have mercy and grant me the strength and skill to perform the healing that needs to occur.”

She quickly walked to the foot of the healing stone slab and awaited instructions.

“Handmaiden, you are to be the leader on this healing. It will be a long and arduous process but you will be faithful. The Almighty Physician has spoken, do not be afraid. He will answer your cry for help. He will guide you through the healing process. Remember your training, remember your gifts. Use ALL of them in this healing, do not grow faint of heart, and do not become weary. Warrior will return often to this table, allow the Almighty Physician to work through you to bring healing each time. Again, do not grow weary or faint of heart. The Almighty Physician has spoken.”

Handmaiden froze.

It was as if time stood still, her breathing slowed, her hands felt cold and lifeless. But as her instructions took form in her mind and the encouragement filled her hands she knew this season of time would be the culmination of her training. It would be a place of healing in her own soul as she relied on the Almighty Physician to use her and fill her with His strength.

Handmaiden breathed.

She touched Warrior’s feet and wept. She crumpled into a fetal position and wept for him. As she wept she began to hear the Almighty Physician speak into her mind, this was a first. He began giving her instructions, telling her what was needed for the healing. She had completed the first step: weeping for her charge, feeling his pain and suffering.

As she embraced the pain and suffering the Almighty Physician gave her a picture of where the wounding had occurred. She moved her hand to the place He instructed:

Warrior had been stabbed in the back during battle.

A friend had misplaced his sword and part of it had been broken off into Warrior’s side. She asked the attendants to carefully turn his body over to expose the wound. She wept again for it had become infected, its bluish purple angry lines emanating from the wound that had mostly healed over. Her concerned heart told her it was going to be a long healing over a period of time; she now understood her original call. “Do not lose hope, Handmaiden,” she heard again the words of Almighty Physician.

Again the next step came to her heart, “He will need music, send for the court musicians.” As Handmaiden waited and cleansed the area of wounding she sang praise and worship songs, when the Court Musicians began their worship, she began to pray.”

“Almighty Physician have mercy on this your servant, Warrior. Meet him in his place of deepest need. Thank you for your guidance, for the Court Musicians and for the complete, deep inner cleansing, healing, mending and preparing for Warrior’s next assignment. We praise you Almighty Physician.”

~~~
Author’s Note: While this piece was written in 2012 it could easily be an appropriate reminder that what we say and do impacts those around us. The Allegory could have the main characters of Warrior and Handmaiden switched, for unfortunately in the area of Christian Ministry we sometimes wound our very dear Pastor’s and Ministry Leaders. Figuratively stabbing them in the back with unkind words, or leaving them to do more than they are meant to do. Sometimes even patting them on the back when they over-do, or not encouraging them when they need it most. This story could be my own or another’s or no one in particular, just an example of how the Lord heals us in various ways, through others, music, physicians or the like. In all cases God is so very merciful, using all things to grow us up in him. He does not cause us to sin against one another, but in His great economy He’s uses the difficult things in our life to bring about His glory in us, as we submit to His will.

Allegory:
a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning (para/google)
“Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey”
synonyms: parable, analogy, metaphor, symbol, emblem

Beauty and Change

605ce8e8b71f106b8b813d5a26afd0ed

Beauty and Change

I appreciate the form and color found in beauty. I often find refuge in beauty, in silence and in symmetry, especially when my learning curve has been stretched to its limit and all I need, just for a few moments, is a place to catch my breath.

The place pictured here fit the exact need of my raw heart.

Not because my week has been terrible, not in the least, it is that my mind needs to remember its center. When war and hunger assault my senses, it is to the creator of all these beautiful colors and the one who created the beautifully creative people that constructed the light posts, it is to God that I hide away to find my true center.

Isaiah 40:28

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired, His understanding is inscrutable.

I’ve been frustrated this week, feeling that I don’t measure up and trying very hard to trust the Lord to be my all.

I’ve had friends, peers, bosses even children say my work is good, but it is the inward messages that trip me up.

It is the inner parts of my soul that God needs to take and remake, this is what drives me to prayer, that place of prayer where I just cannot walk any further without leaning upon the one who has been holding my hand all along.

Forgive me Lord, I cry in my heart, please forgive me.

This sensitivity and empathy is a difficult way to walk, and every once in awhile it catches me off guard. The line between moving with the power and strength of the Lord and remembering it is the Lord that powers all things that I do while using these gifts is a lifelong journey of learning.

When I can do no more, He calls me to prayer and rest. His rest. Oh to be in the place of continual prayer, this is the best place to dwell safely and at complete rest. This week was not the place of continually prayer and it was obvious to my insides that ‘I don’t want to do that again!’

Psalm 23:2 & 3 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His names’ sake. He leads me beside the still water, He restores my soul.

So here I am resting and gazing at a beautiful sight of creation where man and God have worked together to create, whether they acknowledged His work through them or not, He is the creator. He is my creator, He is the shepherd of my soul.

Tonight I rest, inwardly, in all areas and it is good.

Tonight I praise a God that knows my heart and mind.

Tonight I worship God and I’m grateful for His creativity.

Stace

November 4, 2016

A Place of Prayer

get-er-doneA Place of Prayer

I’ve heard the quote whose partial suggestion is to
“Do what you can and
-leave the rest to… or
-don’t worry about what you can’t do… or
-you can’t do anything about it anyway…
and so forth.”

It’s a bunch of hooey.
All of those options are a matter of choice.

Your choice for self-care or selfishness.
Your choice for reaching out or giving up some sleep
Your choice to make a difference or stand there in silence
Your choice to listen for God’s direction or bumble ahead in the darkness.

As a recovering ‘do it all’ I hear the ‘your choice’ comments in my head every day, as I bumble through trying to discern my yes and no choices.

It’s not easy.

I face (and we face) these choices every day.
Do we have limits? Yes.
Do we have physical impairments? Yes.
Do we have financial restrictions? Yes.

BUT those that serve God have a resource we sometimes forget about. We have a God that has no limit. Is present at all times, is THE provider and has only the restriction to be what he says he is: GOD!

question-mark

 

So why my rant about choice?

I have limits.

 

I set boundaries so I can serve and give as much as possible.

It seems never enough, so I live in the place of discontent/contentment. Knowing that there is much to be done (discontent that I can’t do it all) but knowing that God can ‘get er done.’

So through prayer- sharing what I see and hear that I am not able to complete- God is overjoyed to accomplish those things that concern Him as well.

Talking to Him and leaving those things that I see in His hands is freeing and often times He grants wisdom and insight as to how I can accomplish those things through His strength.

warrior-woman-of-godWhen I choose this place of prayer, others do not see this action choice and sometimes, it might look like I am not ‘doing’ anything at all. But in reality, I’m on the ‘front line’, in prayer I’m a warrior fighting battles only God knows about and in prayer I am going before the ONE that does ALL things.

In this way the ‘do what you can’ encompasses everything that I come in contact with, my day brought before the Lord in prayer – especially in the areas of my weaknesses.

In this way, my weaknesses become God’s opportunity to do His work, as I share with Him my complete need of Him in all things, especially those areas that I cannot ‘do’ anymore, I can only ‘be’ His child in prayer.

pray-anywhere

Just a few thoughts as I live in the place of weakness…
I’m His child in process.

Stace
November 3, 2016

The Place of Haunting

haunting The Place of Haunting

There are those years when the Haunting is relentless. This is one of those years. The memories flood my mind when I try to go to sleep. The grief overwhelms and tears silently fall to my pillow, unnoticed by others.

 

I grieve in silence knowing that this too shall pass. I am strong. But sometimes, just sometimes the grief shouts

pay attention to me, remember, rejoice and be renewed

with strength in the remembering of the past life of the ones I loved. My dad and my mom.

Twenty –two years is a long time to remember dad. I can still hear his belly laugh. Still feel his pat on the back and the ‘hang in there’ words he would use to calm me in the most difficult times. We had many of those times, he and I shared those moments, when the three of us, mom, dad and me would become just two. Two to share the worry, prayer, waiting in hospital waiting rooms and talking over hospital cafeteria food. The bitter sweet.

 

The joy of opening our home and sharing meals with friends. Loved ones who were not relatives by blood, but relatives by relationship and deep commitment one to another. Uncle Scotty, Auntie Louise, Uncle Art and Aunt Lucile, Grandma and Grandpa Foos, Uncle Larry and Aunt Priscilla, so many more lovely individuals shared our table. But it was the deep places of hurt and concern that dad and I shared only what we could know.

Tonight I am haunted by the memories.

Countless nights of being woken up in the middle of the night by screams of pain. feature-enfield-hauntingMidnight runs to the hospital, emergency surgeries and endless prayers calling out to our Father in Heaven to have mercy and heal. No one else shared these burdens, oh these lovely people shared our life and our pain. But not the day to day walking with one so physically broken. One who gave, one who stood at her sink in the kitchen and would peel potatoes for a meal to take to another – the normal routine, with tears falling down her face because her legs and feet were riddled with pain. Pain was the norm, the daily norm to walk through each day with a broken body. These memories haunt me, because now I am truly alone. Both mom and dad are gone and I alone carry the truth of a God’s mercy to the truly broken faithful ones.

I am the caretaker of their story of faith.

I am haunted because I know the power of their life. Their dedication and sometimes just stubborn resolve to walk straight through the fire and come out on the other side. They were warriors, their foundation was Christ, their life was hidden in a prayer and faith that took them through amazing wars and consistent battles. They were my mom and dad and I miss them.

Tonight they haunt me, not in a bad way but in a way that is so deep I am finding it difficult to express the depth of loss. I carry their legacy and I feel so unworthy and like a failure. But this I know, God is my judge and frankly I’m not a very good one, so I’ll depend upon His mercy and grace. This is good!

Tonight I am haunted by the memory of two Godly saints that walked a way of brokenness and through their faithfulness impacted thousands of lives. Can I live up to this example, this passion of purpose to reach as many for the gospel? Whose home was open to any that needed, whose hearts bore the burden of hundreds. This is my model.

Tonight I cry out, God is my life making a difference?

Does it please You? I’m not living like my parents did, but I long to walk with You in obedience. Tonight I miss my parents, the safety and comfort of those who knew me well.

haunting_shadowLoved me deeply and carried their cross to the grave, faithful to the end.

May it be so in my life.

But tonight I am pausing to remember… and dwell in the place of being haunted.

Stacey Britton
October 31, 2016

Mountains

Many Mountains

Many Mountains

Why so stinking many Mountains?

“I feel like I am in a big bowl, caught, I can hardly breathe, the mountains are closing me in. I want to go home, to the flat prairie land where I can see for miles.”

I could hear my grandmother’s voice speaking these words, even though the story was told with my mother’s voice and from her point of view. It was from this vantage that my memories found their source. Grandma’s words took me back to 1964, my mother needed extended care for me, a two year old, while she underwent major surgery, not the first and certainly not the last of many medical procedures my mother suffered.

It was in this context that my grandmother came to spend several week at our home in Chewelah, Washington. The land of the bowl edge of mountains. Gma was 60 or 61 years old at the time. She was never sure when she was born, as the youngest of 13 children and one who was kicked out of her own home at the age of 7 by her step-mother, records of her birth didn’t seem to be important either.

Grandma Judith’s life was a sad tale, not far different to the story of Cinderella, Grandpa Henry acting his part as the Prince that freed her from bondage at the age of 16 when he was 21 years old. It was the 1920’s so the child labor laws were not in effect, but in essence Grandma Judith had worked for her keep from age 7 to age 16, then as a young bride began establishing her own home on the homestead farm north of Okeene, Oklahoma.

Her tale before that was ever so sad, her mother died in childbirth, her father was working the farm, and Judith was watched over by her brothers, until Great-Grandfather Jacob sent for a mail order bride and when she arrived she had her own children in tow, as I said, Cinderella. After a few months Gma Judith was sent packing of to live with one brother and family and then another brother. Never really finding a home, Gma, worked hard and was a fighter, sassy, even to her 96th year, when she left this earth.

So into my two year old life my sassy grandma arrived. It was not long after her time with our family that the name “bullet butt” was tagged to my name of Stacey. It was and is fitting to the type of personality traits that I possess. I love running, love speed, being fast, accomplishing much and doing my own thing – alone. “Bullet” from a rifle, not buck shot from a shot gun. Grandma Judith was up for the task, I kicked her in the face, bent her glasses and left a lasting scar on her nose, for her efforts. Don’t judge me too harshly I was only two at the time, Gma never let me live down the scar on her nose, heehee. I guess I left a lasting mark, not on purpose.

So what part of the story do I tell first? My mother’s surgery, grandma’s farm life which merges with my mother’s younger years then fades into my parent’s meeting? Shall I focus on my story from age 2 or merge the three into one tale interweaving the threads of story within one tale? I think I will begin chronologically and with Judith.

Many of the stories that my Gma told me were thirty years ago, when as a college student I spent a considerable time in her home. She and I ate, watched TV and shared stories together. It is from this long ago memory that I will re-tell her version of her story. I will begin when she was seven she was sent to live with her older brother, whose wife resented the imposition and therefore made life miserable for Gma. Not long afterwards she was sent to live with another brother, in this home Gma found some solace, while she was given many chores to accomplish resulting in her education being cut short at third grade, never the less, grandma learned how to run a household well.

She had her own money, independence and a temper to ‘beat the band’ these qualities were attractive to men that needed strong women to work side by side on the farms, hard labor in the early 1900’s. The best part: grandma could cook! She was a terrific cook up until she moved from her home in her late 80’s, no one – no one could make homemade noodles, fried chicken (from a live chicken, break the neck, feather, cut and fry in bacon grease) and several dishes passed down to her from her German family members.

The great mountain of how will grandma live as a seven year old, alone, not really loved or cared for, yet despite all odds grandma thrived in the midst of adversity. Until one evening when she was standing on the corner of main and the highway, outside the bank where her brother worked, Gpa Henry asked her to join him on a date. She accepted and a few months later they were married. Even then she and her Prince had sorrow the very first year of marriage with the cradle death of their first son.

Even as a woman in her 80’s she grieved this loss, probably SIDS, I remember talking with her at length about where her child would be and if she would ever meet him again. This grief revealed the depth of my grandmother’s feelings towards her children, though in life she kept those feelings close inside her, fearing they would or could be used against her. No doubt a coping habit from living with those that did not truly love her unconditionally. Suffering takes many forms. Emotional suffering marked my grandmother’s life, while her body was strong and healthy, there are always those places in us where weakness dwells.

This weakness, the need to hide her true feelings and a tendency not to trust those close to her, plagued gma’s relationship with gpa Henry and her children. I was so very fortunate to see a side of gma Judith that no one saw, her vulnerability. We wrote back and forth when I was in school, then I would also visit as I mentioned before. I am not totally sure why she opened up and shared her heart with me, unconditional love has a way to build trust, and encouragement and valuing also heal old wounds.

So many wounds remained unhealed with Gma Judith, these were very old wounds that a loving God was slowly healing. At the writing of this story I was unaware of the special moments that the two of us shared and I am unsure of the reasons. But this I do know, my mother endured cruelties at the hands of my gma and chose to love and forgive in return. Love is powerful, prayer changes things, situations, attitudes, and can heal wounds deeper and more hopeless that any one person could imagine. God is love.

So? Why so stinking many mountains? Mountains define us, mountains mold us, mountains create depth of character, mountains used in the hands of a loving God help create in us the very qualities and character traits that we need for life here on earth. We are eternal beings, Revelations the end book found in the Bible, refers to a new heaven and a new earth where we will dwell as the eternal beings we are – spirit, new bodies. I could use a new body about now, but I digress. The problem is, if Jesus is not a part of your life a new heaven and a new earth is not in your future.

These were the types of conversations I had with Grandma Judith, tough no nonsense talks about life after death. Only two options, heaven or hell. This concerned Gma, she wanted to know where her first child would be. A heart grieved, set free by the truth that if her relationship with Jesus was secure, she would most definitely meet up with her child. Praise the Lord in freedom and in forgiveness.

Mountains laid low and valleys made straight, the things that cause us pain, suffering and doubt, the mountains and challenges in our life will all remain firmly behind us. Heaven: no tears, no pain.

Stacey Britton October 31, 2016

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The Next Step

stepping stones“Mom, I need help.”
My emotions froze when I heard his voice.
“Mom, I don’t know where I am, I need help.”
I quickly went into survival mode, teacher mode.
“Look around you, what do you see?”
My voice was calm, soothing, I was in savior mode.
“I don’t know, I see…”

What do you do when you know your son is lost, literally and figuratively?

Lost in the sense of not knowing where he is so you can find him and lost in the matter of not knowing what step to take next in life.

Then I thought of my own place in life, how the last six years have been that same struggle, feeling lost.

My son and I eventually connected and I was reminded of the story of the good shepherd that left the 99 sheep safe at home to go out and find the lost sheep. For that is exactly what I had done that night, left everyone at home, late at night, in the dark, to find my son. It was the conversation early that morning that sealed the trust and faith between the two of us – both on a journey going in the same direction, yet miles apart. For so long it had seemed we would never connect again, but the moment of finding him on the side of the road, in the dark, scared, and totally lost until I found him sealed in us a moment of trust.

A great place to take the next step.