Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Author: Stacy Voss (page 1 of 3)

Undercover Assignment

I received a covert assignment the other day. I’d make for a horrible FBI agent since I can’t keep it secret, but that’s probably best since I’d love for you to go undercover with me, but first let me set the stage to better understand the assignment.

I was at church Sunday morning when a couple came in late with a newborn and all the gear. It was extraordinary watching their unspoken dance as mom, with baby strapped on, made her way past the other people already sitting down. Dad got the car seat past the crowd without hitting anyone (bonus points for him–I never would’ve been so graceful) and then promptly pulled out the paraphernalia: blanket, binky, and bottle, arming himself and mom for any would-be mishaps throughout the service.

As we worshipped, I’d look at the sweet newborn in front of me, but in the process, caught unexpected memory glances as dad peered at the baby, joy and awe oozing.

Then he looked at mom with almost the same look.

I forgot that look: that one that says, “we created this together” while also saying, “the sleepless nights are so worth it. I’d do it all over again as long as you’re by my side.”

That face took me back so far, beyond the more recent days when the look was more of a glare than anything positive. Dad’s face reminded me of what once-was, and as I remembered how quickly it faded to something else, I determined to not let their outcome drift to the same fate.

“God, be with them. Carry them through all that lies ahead of them. I know marriage is hard, especially while raising kids. Don’t let them lose sight of their love for each other and never, ever let them lose sight of you.”

I began praying for this couple, these unknown people who brought me back to the days when love reigned in my marriage. I knew the joy then, but I know too well what it turned into for me.

Not for them, Lord. Not for them, too.

And so began the silent undercover assignment. You see, for those of us that were married once upon a time and are no longer, we get the absolute devastation caused when the Sacred ends. In fact, we probably still don’t fully realize the layers of impact it creates as its ripples extend further than we comprehend. And with that knowledge firmly in place, you and I, dear divorced men and women, can be part of the answer.

Don’t write this off as being too simplistic, for if we do, we risk stating that prayer is ineffective. I can’t dare believe that. I won’t pretend to understand how my little mutterings make it directly to the throne room and I understand even less how, once there, they can have a powerful effect. While I can’t fully explain it, there are just too many Scriptures for me to believe that my prayers don’t matter.

So I prayed for that sweet couple and their little girl. And I’ll probably pray for them more throughout the week. Next week, God might press another couple on my heart and I’ll do some unseen battling for them.

Why?

Because we know the devastation and it’s time to change the currents.

To my fellow divorcees, join me. We know the battles of the courts. Let’s save others from it.

To my married friends, hear this: we’re fighting for you. We know it can be hard. Oh do we know that. But it’s beautiful, too (thanks to those of you who hold that torch and let us see your incredible love dance).

To my marrieds, I also say this: do a little battle for the singles, please. Encourage the young mom who is frazzled, frantic from trying to make her money and energy stretch to cover the bustling brew in her care. Pray for us to know we’re enough and to never consider trading the riches of Christ’s love for cheap imitations. Or perhaps that’s the prayer we need to extend over you, too, my married friends.

Whatever the case and whatever the station, we have a challenge before us.

Who’s in?

Stacy Voss

 

 

New Year’s in August

I made my New Year’s Resolutions today.

No, I’m not late to the game, or early as others might view it. Like all of us, I grew up on the school calendar, with the school days vs. vacation days determining my fate. But unlike others, I never outgrew this schedule. I graduated from college and began doing youth ministry, creating separate events and schedules for the summer months than when school was in session. Then I had kids and within a few quick blinks (technically 5 years), I was back on the August – May schedule.

On the kids’ first day back to school, I block out the day to evaluate my priorities, adjust my calendar, set goals for the upcoming year, dream, and listen. I’ve had this tradition for four years now and let me just say I absolutely love it.

Truth be told, it didn’t start as something so lofty. I simply needed a distraction, something to keep the tears at bay as I kissed my littles goodbye and entrusted them to someone else who would spend countless hours with them over the days and months. I could stuff the emotions long enough until I made it to the hike oasis, or so I told myself.

But here’s the thing: this year, there weren’t tears. Not even the threat of them even despite my Girlie starting high school (gasp). I know the next few years will blur past as she’ll be driving before I know it and having the ability to be out of the house a lot more than she currently is. Gone will be the days of me picking her up from school, of hearing about her day as we drive home. She’ll be working before I know it, learning great traits, but also being out of the house more. And then, well, she’ll be gone, gone. We both know the odds of her going to college in Colorado are low.

So while I could moan this slippery slope we’re approaching, it gives me all the more reason to evaluate. To ask what is most important right now and what needs to wait. It makes me be diligent in managing my schedule so I can make sure I give proper attention to the things that most need it, while making me dig deep into the things God is pressing on my heart–both for my own benefit and to demonstrate to my kids that this mama will press on, even when the God nudges push me faaaarrr beyond my comfort zone.

Today was Freshmen Orientation, meaning my Girlie didn’t need more than a few bucks for lunch and her schedule. I, however, dusted off my backpack (ok, not really. I just hiked with it being dirty. Oh, well), packed my lunch and snack, grabbed my journal, brought a notebook, and of course I loaded every color of pen in with my gear because you just never know what color you’ll need to write in when scheduling. And then there was the raincoat, a valuable lesson learned on Annual Tradition Year 2.

Yes, I lost a day of work today, but I gained so much more. Once-dreams resurfaced. Fears were set to rest. I began cultivating plans for a special getaway with my Girlie while cooking up some ideas for what will fill my Bubba’s love tank.

And, of course, I saw some pretty amazing things.

Can you see the bighorn sheep?

Moms, raising kids is no small feat. Entrusting them to a stranger to let them speak life into them takes infinite amounts of courage. Be brave, mighty warrior. The newest part of my tradition is that I went to Starbucks this morning between dropping off the high schooler and going to see my Bubba on his first day of elementary school. Armed with my journal and those colorful pens, I wrote out some of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever extended over my kids, praying for their friendships, teachers, safety, confidence, self-image, and anchors to Christ. Yes, it still took courage to hand them over, but this caffeine-induced prayer reminded me just who I was handing them over to: someone more in control than I could ever be.

Here’s my challenge to you: I know it feels self-centered to take time for ourselves, especially when there are so many important things vying for our attention. But here’s the deal, if we don’t invest in ourselves, we won’t have the fuel to most effectively pour into those we love. So I challenge you to create a time and place to have some you time this week. What do you say? Are you up for it? If so, please comment about what you did for you and what you learn.

Savoring the journey,

Stacy Voss

Waiting Redefined

He (Ezra) had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.” Ezra 7:9

Quick math check: first day of the fifth month – first day of the first month = 4 months.

Scratch what I said about it being quick. Let’s translate this a bit. Four months of travel. If you thought the “are we almost there’s?” got old after a few hours, you should see what it’s like three months in.

I read this verse Sunday morning, the day my Girlie drove from California with her grandparents to Phoenix before catching a plane and coming back to Colorado. That’s three states in one day, which doesn’t even cause us to flinch anymore, but poor old Ezra’s 900 mile trip (which is nearly the same mileage as what my Girlie logged in a single day) took 4 months to complete.

The night before I read this verse, a friend was telling me how she felt God was impressing on her to wait.

Let’s just state what is more obvious than the math problem we started with: waiting can stink in a big way. Not just for a red light to change (although there are some that seem to take twice as long as others), but I’m talking about those big-ticket items in life:

-wait to see if a loved one will regain their strength

-wait to see if this pregnancy will last longer than the others or if it, too, will tragically terminate

-wait to see if the scan shows new growth or a shrinkage

-wait to see if what appears to be broken can be restored.

My printer broke the other day. It’s not catastrophic in the least, but still is mildly annoying as there are certain things that just can’t be done electronically. I did some research and found the replacement I hoped would last longer that its 10-month old predecessor. Then the hunt for the best price began.  I found it online for $20 cheaper than in an office supply store and it even included free shipping. I’m all about saving a buck, but the $20 difference also meant I’d have to wait 9 days until it’d arrive.

9. Whole. Days.

I’m self-employed, which somehow means 9 days without a way to spit out the occasional document is nonsensical even if the occasional document is occasional. After all, school starts next week and the kids just might need a form signed and we wouldn’t dare have to wait a little longer by going to a copy/printing store.  I told the kids we were finishing up school supply shopping as we went to the store, knowing full well that I’d walk out with a new printer (and NOT expecting them to do a price match, which is completely besides the point, but a girl just has to gloat when getting something half off!).

It’s such a minor example, yet the immediate trumped the delayed, even when I figured I’d need to part with extra money for the quick purchase (and let me tell you in case you don’t have kids in school, you really need to hang on to every penny this time of year to cover all those back to school expenses). The immediate also won when I put cold pasta into a small little electrical box we call a microwave and less than two minutes later I pulled out a piping hot meal.  Same is true when I called a client at his office. He wasn’t at his desk, so I left him a voicemail. And then texted his cell, because I really, really needed an answer right away.

Did I mention that I don’t do this waiting thing well?

I figure I’m not alone in that. I think I’m showing patience when I wait for a Red Robin hamburger rather than one from McDonalds (if we can actually call it a hamburger). But the point of reference is off. Back in the day (or even currently in less-affluent areas), people had to first butcher the animal. More like first care for it so it would grow larger and stronger prior to killing it. Then they’d have to process the meat. Then light the fire, even without fire starter or Doritos (which I recently learned on Pinterest doubles as a fire starter. Watch out, world. This single mama is about to take her kids camping solo. I’ll be sure to bring several bags of those much-too-good chips and probably a few rolls of toilet paper, which I’ve been known to toss into a fire prior to my Pinterest-education).

Again, I don’t think I’m alone (okay, maybe I am when it comes to toilet paper, Doritos campfires). We just don’t do waiting well.

I share all of these silly babblings because many of you are waiting: a few by choice, many not so much, but waiting nonetheless. And to the one who is waiting when it seems to defy all logic. When the wait tears at your soul because the land between is shifting sand that takes you neither here nor there. When others say you’re waiting doesn’t make sense, yet you hold on because He told you to and that’s the only voice you choose to follow.

To you I simply say: you’re brave. Not because you chose this, because you absolutely wouldn’t. Not because you enjoy this, because you don’t, except for that strange irony that it draws you closer to your Messiah than ever before and you wouldn’t, couldn’t ever dare trade that for anything else, even the very thing you’re waiting on.

You’re brave because waiting defies cultural norms. It’s a land riddled with unknowns where GPS and roadmaps become non-existent.  It’s a place where self disappears and if we aren’t careful, doubts infiltrate like never before.

To you, oh brave one, I simply say this:

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14

Stacy Voss

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