Monday, February 28, 2011

Sheaves of Blessing


So…in a month or so…I will be moving my blog. I just think it’s time for a new beginning.

The URL I am hoping for is www.seedsandsheaves.com.

Seeds and sheaves you may ask? Why that?

“Those who go out weeping , carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalms 126:6

And just what is a sheaf, or sheaves, anyways? They are gathered bundles of reaped, but unthreshed, wheat.

Okay, now I am not a farmer, nor do I pretend to be. I have never “threshed wheat”, but I did Google it. You would “thresh” and “winnow” wheat to separate the wheat kernel from the stalk and the chaff.

It is not written that you go out with seeds, and return with a box of cheerios, or a donut, or a cupcake, boxes of goldfish, or a bran muffin. No…you go out weeping with your seed, and you come back with some raw unprocessed wheat.

Oftentimes I go out with my seed, weeping, and the promise of a harvest in my back pocket. Then when the harvest doesn’t come in the form I want it to, say a nice perfectly formed loaf of bread, I get upset.

God didn’t say we would come back singing songs of joy because we have our vision of perfection placed in our hands. No…we come back singing songs of joy because we have more than what we left with.

We have more than seeds. We have more than sorrows. We have more than weeping. We have a gift. It still may need to be worked, and threshed, and winnowed, and processed, and baked, but it is a gift. Let us be thankful for our bundles of sheaves. They may be raw, and they may need refining, but they are our sheaves. Our sheaves of blessings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Secure

There are so many places and things in which we place our security. And just what does it mean to be secure anyways? Some definitions say something that provides protection against loss or harm, or the state of feeling safe and protected. The sad thing is there are so many false senses of security out there. And oftentimes, myself included, it is so easy to place our security in something other than God.

For me this week, it was money. The green eyed monster, greed, money. And don't get me wrong, it was an AMAZING opportunity, just not the place to which God has called my heart.

It kind of came down to an ultimatum on the battlefield of my mind. One epic battle of massive proportions. God kind of put me in a place where it was a bit of a test I think. He asked me a very important question. Do you choose to trust me and the calling I have placed on your life? Or do you choose to trust money? Do you place your security in me? Or do you place your security in money?

I do not pretend in the slightest that I was not tempted to choose money, really tempted. Thank you Lord that you have put enough amazingly wise individuals in my life who spoke truth to me, or I am quite certain the green eyed monster could have won. But God would not have that, He had my back.

You see, not for a single moment of my life has my security ever been in money. And yet I was tempted. Not for a single second of my life has money ever provided me with protection or safety, and yet I viewed it as my “security”. As the “secure” choice.

And then I read this…

“Trust God. Plain and simple. Not easy, mind you, but basic and uncomplicated. You don’t always have to hash it all out. Sometimes you can make a single swift decision. As Christ said to a wavering disciple, you just have to make up your splinted mind to “stop doubting and believe” (Johns 20:27) Believe that He loves you and has you covered and takes every one of your hits as if they were aimed at His own skin. Get down to the bottom of what frightens you, and then pitch it to Him like a hot potato. If we can’t count on God, for crying out loud, who can we count on?”

Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity

He is my everything. He is my security. He has never let me down, and He won’t start now. I trust Him.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, mentored me, and listened to me over the past couple of days. God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed you in my life, and it is because of you reminding me of truths that I am able to have a renewed trust in Him. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

weeping seeds and joyful sheaves

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalms 126:6

Those who go out weeping.

Have you ever gone on about your day, just wanting to cry inside? But there is work to be done, the house is a mess, you have a job, the kids need to get to practice, etc, etc, etc. So you go out. You go on about your day, although you may not be weeping on the outside, inside you go out weeping.

Carrying seed to sow.

I love it when God gives me practical instruction. “If you are going to go out weeping, you better carry some seed”, He speaks to my heart. And He is right. It is so easy when we are feeling a bit dumpy or depressed, to stay locked inside ourselves. To stay locked in the negative pattern of thoughts, it’s just easier. The problem is, it just keeps us stuck in that same negative cycle, day in and day out. One thing I found fascinating when I was studying counseling is that so many theories suggest that one of the best things to do for depression is to have people do something good for someone else. How simple is that?!?! But do we do it?

With Songs of JOY!

Well, it depends. We don’t have to do it. But if we want to return with songs of joy - then maybe we might want to give it a try. When we do things for others it throws a big fat wrench in the negative feedback loop. We mix in a positive with all the negative, and all of the sudden that negative thought train of depression is derailed. If we derail it for long enough, we can develop a new feedback loop. Because when we are doing things for others we can’t help but feel a little joy, and then, they might even do something for us, and all of the sudden we are carrying sheaves and not seeds. Singing songs of joy, no longer weeping. Not songs of denial, not songs of fake plastered on smiles, but songs of joy regardless of our circumstances. How cool is that! I think I will throw a kink in the feedback loop today, how bout you

Monday, February 21, 2011

What if the burden was lifted.........for you

So...I am just really wrestling with this phrase, or I guess it's more of a question, that God has put upon my heart.

What if the burden was lifted?

What if the burden was lifted?

So...today I wanted to throw that phrase out to you dear sisters. What does it mean to you? What comes to mind when you hear this?

What if the burden was lifted........


Sunday, February 20, 2011

What if the burden was lifted?

What if the burden was lifted?

Today while seeking wisdom to guide a friend, this popped into my head. What if the burden was lifted?

I sat there trying to make rhyme or reason of this.

What if nothing was in the way? What if the nightmares that haunt her stopped? What if the heavy heavy weight she is carrying was lifted from her?

I don’t know. I don’t know what would happen if her burden was lifted. I don’t know what would happen if she was able to lay it at the cross and never pick it up again. I don’t know why the struggle is necessary sometimes, but I know there is purpose.

It seems as if so many of the references I found in the bible for “burden” were soon followed by a warning about idols. Could it be that the thing we view as a burden, could also be an idol?

At first I thought, no, I was burdened by sorrow, depression, and shame - I didn’t want it - it just burdened me.

But wait…an idol is anything I place in a higher place than God. When making my priority list, I certainly didn’t list depression over God, but sometimes I believed the lies of depression over God. Sometimes I refused to believe that God loved me, despite what the Bible said, despite what Jesus says, I listed to my past, I listened to my tainted shameful thoughts, over God!!!! Could it be that I believed in the power of my depression and shame and victimization more than I believed in my God?

He removed the burden from my shoulders. He delivered me, from before the time I was born He delivered me. He delivered her, He delivered you, the moment He died on the cross. Hear Him. He is the Lord your God. There is no “what if the burden was lifted”. It WAS lifted, we just need to accept it.

Psalm 81:6-10 “I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud……..Hear me, my people, and I will warn you - if you would only listen to me, Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. I am the lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Open wide you mouth and I will fill it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Video blog and Caffienated Randomness Link-up

Hey girls! So it's my first video blog! So...that being said...I'll let you start watching. Oh yeah, and Erin@it'sgrace...you are the winner of "Get out of that Pit". Message me your mailing address at stephkevinryan@hotmail.com, and I'll get it sent!
video

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Put my big girl panties on, and God rocked the house, Word Women Wednesday, and a Giveaway!

First of all, welcome to all you girlies coming over from Tiffini’s place at the House of Belonging. Thank you so much for coming over! I am truly humbled by being able to guest post on such an amazing blog. Tiffini, I think you are my long lost twin soul sister from afar. You make me laugh, you make me smile, and you make me cry. Thank you for the privilege of reading your words, you are a tremendous blessing to my life and to many others as well. Love you girl!

Okay…now for the big girl panties part…

So the thing I was nervous about that I wrote about yesterday, ummm, yea, God is awesome. He totally rocked it! I was very nervous about my first time co-leading a survivors of sexual abuse/assault group, very nervous. Wanted to puke nervous. Sweaty icky nervous. But God is so good. Right before group, God reminded me of something. I am clothed in strength and dignity (Proverbs 31). I have nothing to be ashamed about, and it was time to put my big girl panties on and show that Satan who’s boss! And I did, we did, me and God did!

I always found it weird to that the bible would say to “deny yourself”, but for the first time, I think I kind of get it. See…my self was a nervous wreck…my self told me that I cannot do this….my self wanted to run and hide in the corner…or sit silent in group…not disclosing any of my own junk. But that is not what God had in mind. He covered every inch of that stinky fleshy self of mine with His awe-mazing glory, power, and grace. A peace and a calm came over me like I have never felt before. I think a part of me died tonight…the part of the that was ashamed. Not that I do not have to be cautious of the rising of the dead…but I’m pretty sure that shame just might be a goner for good. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. I love my group. I love that God has pulled us together. I love my bloggy buds. I love that God has pulled us together. I am just in a loving life mood…and in that spirit…lets do a giveaway!!!

Leave a comment on my Word Women Wednesday post over at the House of Belonging, and you will be entered to win a copy of Beth Moore’s “Get out of that Pit”. I will use a “random picker” to pick the winner, and will post the winner on my blog on Friday!!! I cannot tell you what a blessing the words that Beth has penned in this text have been to my life. I continue to apply the biblical truths that I learned in this book on a daily basis! I can’t wait to send it to one of you, and pray like crazy that God will use it to bless your life like it did mine.

I love you girlies! Remember, with God ANYTHING is possible. God uses the girl who couldn’t even verbalize the word “rape” or “sex” to help lead a sexual assault/abuse support group. He will turn the darkest nastiest suitcase of baggage you can find into a crown of blessings that you have to bow your head because it’s so heavy! Believe it girls…its true!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Steps

Steps. I like how the word steps is just one letter away from Steph’s.

Steph’s steps.

When I was in middle school some kids would joke and call me “step on me”, which I can totally laugh about now, but it sure wasn’t funny when I was an awkward 12 year old, LOL!

Steps. Am I taking the right steps or the wrong steps? Is He leading my steps, or am I leading my steps and calling them His? Steps.

And what about standing. Sometimes is it okay just to stand?

I guess this is all on my mind tonight because I am taking a big step tomorrow. I am placing myself, voluntarily, in a very vulnerable position. Sounds crazy huh? I often wonder what it is about the awesome love of Christ that can make us take our darkest fears and secrets and display them for others to see. It is amazing how he takes my feet and moves them in steps that I would have never chosen to walk on my own, but steps that I can’t fathom not taking.

So I will cling to him, and He will hold me upright (Psalm 63). My steps may be unsteady and weak at first, but I am safe in the shadow of His wings.

Another funny thing about middle school. We had this awesome youth music pastor when I was in middle school. And He used to sing the song “Sometimes by Step“ by Rich Mullins. I can almost feel myself back in that hot gym on a middle school mission trip in Corpus Christi as I sing the song in my head. A mission trip that I was scared to go on. Looking back, even as a middle schooler, I had to trust him to guide my steps. He has prepared me for this. Here is the song. I hope it holds a special meaning for you as well and brings you blessings on the journey.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Confessions of a Should-er

I am a former should-er, yes, that is correct, a should-er. It should have been this way. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have done this. That shouldn’t have happened. This should have happened. In fact, I have been caught should-ing all over myself! LOL!

Earlier this week, I read a part in Sheila Walsh’s book “Let Go” that said this, “What should have happened did”. Such a simplistic phrase, but loaded with meaning. In fact, I have spent the entire week catching my should-ing and replacing it with “what should have happened did”.

At first this was a tough pill to swallow. Not just for my own little simplistic life, but when I think about countless others who are in tremendous pain or heartache. There are deaths, horrendous crimes, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, school shootings, car accidents, drug overdoses, cancer, babies with cancer – and you are trying to tell me what should have happened did? It can be a tough thing to accept. But God is sovereign in ALL things. He IS sovereign.

I don’t know why bad things happen. But I know that they do. And when they do, those of us left in the midst or left behind are often carrying around very heavy heavy suitcases full of feelings. Bitterness, hurt, sadness, resentment, anger, denial, confusion, despondency, guilt, shame, and the list could go on and on and on. And should-ing, let us not forget they should-ing.

So, we have a choice here. We can continue to walk around with our suitcases closed up. Hauling them wherever we go. Believing that things “should” have been different. Stuck.

Or we can choose to believe Romans 8:28, that God works for the good of those who love Him – IN ALL THINGS. We can choose to open up the suitcase, wide open, and let God in. You aren’t going to scare Him with the contents. He already knows what’s in there, even the anger, even the anger at Him. He can take it. He can turn it, all of it, into something beautiful if you let Him.

Should. Maybe there is a reason it starts with the “sh” sound. Because when we stop short of should-ing, we get “shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”. And we just might hear Him whisper, “shhhhhhhhh, quiet your heart my dear, I know, and I care, I love you, and I am with you.”

Job 19:25 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on earth”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ummmm....I think I'll take the stairs!


If your like me, sometimes you wonder why you can’t just wake up one day as, ummmm, I don’t know, Beth Moore or Sheila Walsh or Lysa Teurkurst. God is big enough to do that right? To wave his magic wand, and all of the sudden you are the leader of an amazing ministry, making a living out of exactly what you wanted to do. He could do that right? Of course He could! I have no doubt that if He wanted to, He could have the “right” people call me tomorrow and my book would be published and I would be speaking at conferences weekly. That is IF He wanted me to, or IF he was ready for me too, or IF I was ready. He is capable. I am willing. So what’s all the hold up about?

I tend to get ahead of myself, it’s a bad habit of mine. I tend to lack patience, and I wanted “it” (whatever “it” happens to be at the moment) yesterday. But, thank you God that He knows better.

I wish I was more biblically knowledgeable, if I was I could give you verses, but I oftentimes find myself running across stories in the Bible about falls. It can be the fall of a glamorous city, or the fall of a famous leader, or the fall of an army - there is lots of falling in the Bible. Most of the time it happens when people or places get too prideful, start to believe that they don’t need God anymore, and their hearts turn away and turn wicked. It happens over and over again. I hate to use the cliché, but, pride comes before a fall.

I love the words that I found in Lamentations to day. Lamentations 3:16 “He has made me chew on gravel, He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.”

Have you ever been in that kind of place? Chewing on gravel. Boy, I sure have. Could it be possible that God doesn’t send us on an elevator to the top of the high rise of our dreams, because He knows that if He did, we would inevitably fall? And not a little fall, but the kind of fall that we would step out of the elevator, not knowing which direction to go, wander of the ledge, and find ourselves eating gravel. Could that be why He instead sends us up the stairs? The rough stairs. The long, grueling, makes you out of breath, hurts your thighs, and causes blisters in your high heals, kind of stairs.

I think maybe the reason He doesn’t wave His wand in our lives all the time, is because we are not ready, yet. That does not mean that we won’t be ready, because we will. But we have to gain some strength, learn some lessons, live some life, make some mistakes, and lay down some dreams before He can take us to the top. The top that He has planned for us, which is far more than the top we could ask for or imagine. It is not anyone else’s summit either, it is the summit at the top of the high rise of our life, what He has for you and you alone!

So let’s start another week girls! One stair at a time, and loving each and every minute of it! It’s a privilege to get to climb the stairs, if we rode the elevator, we would miss out on all the beauty He has provided for each and every step.

7 random things about me :)

Wow, if I needed confirmation that my life is pretty boring, this was it, LOL! Jen at Finding Heaven, one of the most awesomest bloggy sisters ever, send me an assignment. I am supposed to write down 7 things that you don’t know about me. Shouldn’t be such a hard task, should it? I have spent the weekend trying to think of seven things that make Stephanie WAY COOL, LOL, but ummmm, yea, I’m just not that cool, LOL. So here are my 7 rather boring, rather normal things about me, that you didn’t know.

7. I have a dog. His name is Buzz and he is a minature schnauzer. He is my baby. He sleeps in our bed on his back which cracks me up, and farts a lot, which stinks. My husband likes to get him all wound up, in which he makes noises similar to a garbage disposal. I love my doggy Buzz. I am definitely a dog person.

6 .I work for our local school district on a federal grant. It is a grant to reduce alcohol abuse in our community. I LOVE my job. However, it will no longer be funded after this school year, so I am searching like crazy for something else! It has been the best job ever! I get to work with at risk students, I get to design billboards, be on the news occasionally, write articles, and design a full color newsletter twice a year. Like, I said, I love it, and I am praying God brings me along something I love even more!!!

This picture is me on Lake Michigan in Chicago. This is where we had our annual conference for our grant!


5. I am messy and unorganized. I really have a hard time keeping my house clean, and my closet looks like a laundry basket exploded in a fit of rage. It’s truly a mess. I probably could do better about this if I really wanted to, but what fun is cleaning anyways? I would much rather be having fun!

This picture doens't really match being messy, but I just wanted to share it!


4. I often wear my husbands sock, or socks with holes in the toes, if I wear socks at all. I love the summertime because socks aren’t necessary, but unfortunately in the winter they are. I probably could go buy some cute socks, and I might enjoy them. But socks are always covered up! I would much rather spend my money on parts of my wardrobe that people can see. I am the happiest in my flip flops, because I will pay for pedicures, because cute toenails, those are definitely an accessory with having!

3. I submitted a book to the Women of Faith writing contest, which in and of itself, is one thing. But, I wrote the 80 page book in 3 days. Yes, three days. Going back over it, I have found lots of things I wish I would have written differently, there are lots of spelling/grammer errors, and I probably could have done a much better job had I spent time on it. But, I just couldn’t bear to let the deadline pass by without submitting something. The good thing is, at least now I have a manuscript that I can work from! So, February 9th they announce the top 30. Which, I would be floored if I made it to, after all, there were lots of mistakes. But, when it’s the right time, I will submit it again, and God will use it! So, ummmm, yes, I am a last minute kind of girl and a definite procrastinator!!!

2. I am going to turn 30 in June, and it will be our 10th wedding anniversary in July! Not to mention, my son will turn 9 and my daughter will turn 6, both in May. That is just crazy, I feel really old, LOL!



1. My computer crashed about 2 months ago, so I have been blogging from our itty bitty Nickelodeon netbook for what seems like forever now. We are getting a new computer with our tax return momeny, YAYYYYYYYY!!!! Because the Nickelodeon netbook is about to make me CRAZY!!!! But, that being said, meeting all my bloggy friends and blogging has been one of the biggest blessings ever that God has put in my life! I love you bloggy friends, thanks for all the joy, wisdom, and passion that you bring into my life!

I am supposed to tag seven bloggy sisters to do the same, but, ummmmm, it's snowing outside, LOL, and I really wanna just snuggle up and watch the snow and drink my coffee now! So, if you want to post your seven random things, consider yourself tagged, if not, no worries, LOL! So, I guess another random thing would be, I AM VERY, okay maybe a little to much, but VERY LAID BACK! And I love me some Jesus!!!