Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 22)

House and Soul Makeover

Little could I have known how similar the house I bought last year was to me. It was burn-your-eyes stinky from the cat with no box, beat up from the owner’s power wheelchair going down too narrow of hallways, and was overdue for some maintenance and TLC.

From today’s vantage point, the similarities are obvious, but perhaps it was because I was too tired or probably just so used to having to press on that I couldn’t fully acknowledge my emotional and physical state. Yet as my house has undergone a radical transformation, I’ve realized I have, too.

Yes, I became stronger as I moved materials, mastered using a jackhammer, and carried tons (literally) of rocks to my backyard.

We stripped my house bare hours after closing on it, pulling up carpeting, tearing down wallpaper, and chiseling out old tiles.

I, too, was stripped down. I had recently gone through a divorce and for as hard and grueling as that process was, there was another event that happened simultaneously that was even worse. Then there was the hour-long commute each day to an office that is known for trying to keep employees there by belittling them so frequently that they come to believe they aren’t capable of working elsewhere.

I’m honestly not sure if I have any pictures of me during this time, but if I did, you’d probably see the resemblance between me and my skeleton house.

 

I bought my house knowing it had good bones and because my dad, the ultimate fixer-upper, could see beyond what was and helped me catch a vision of what it could be. He helped me realize the makeover was doable.

I’m grateful for the others who have seen past my then deep-seated sorrow, confusion and heartache. They didn’t minimize my hurts and never criticized me for grieving what needed to me mourned. But they also loved me enough to see something other than the stinky mess that I was and gave me thumbnail sketches of what life could look like at some point on the journey.

Neighbors I barely know are astonished at what my house looks like today. Gone are the pink walls, magenta carpets, rippled wallpaper, and beat up walls. In their place is a warm, honey hardwood, a fireplace encased in stone that is warm and inviting, and soft hues that beckon a quiet peace.

Friends are seeing the transformation, too. I got to visit with missionaries who are currently on furlough from Africa. One of them reminded me about when I last saw him 3 years ago. I honestly don’t even remember meeting them for coffee, which is more a testament to the crazy I was living at the time than anything else. I couldn’t remember, but he definitely could.

I absolutely, completely love my house. Sure, it has things left to be done and the oh-so-lovely smell of cat pee leeks out of one spot on humid days, but its my house. It’s been built with love, care and deliberation. It is gorgeous, especially because I know all too well what it once was.

Dare I say that I’m beginning to feel the same about this person whose life has been radically transformed? It has been intentional. Nothing has been wasted. Just like the days when it seemed like little progress was made on the house, the changes have been measured on a wider scale–and measurable, they are!

I share this because I was told that my stinky mess knocked me out of being eligible to share anything at all. If there happens to be anyone out there who doesn’t have a little stink somewhere buried in their life story, then you don’t need encouragement. But for the rest of us, let my little candle shine bright for you. Just like the days when my surroundings were too dark for me to always hold the Light and others helped pray me to the throne, I’ll offer a little piece of heaven to you right now. You are loved. Period. Not if the renovations happen or if you can cover your stench. Just, loved. And seasons are real. Hang on if you find yourself in the deepest winter, but more importantly,  hold tight with everything you have to Him, even if the clinging comes through others carrying you to the Almighty because you’re too weary to do so yourself.

Stacy Voss

 

 

The Five Love Languages of the Cross

I’m assuming that most of you have heard of Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. In it, he describes the five fundamental ways in which people primarily give or receive love. They are: gifts, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and words of affirmation. The gist of the book is that each of us have one or two of these areas in which we really feel loved when someone expresses it through that forum.

And conversely, we really feel hurt when love is withheld from us in that category, or worse yet, when someone we care about does something that we perceive as negative in our primary love language. For example, I’m all about words. Splatter a few tidbits of encouragement my way and I’m good to go for the week. But cut me down. Degrade me or place a label on me and I’ll fall under its weight.

As I was once again trying to prepare my heart for Easter, to try to grasp something that is so enormous that I honestly admit I’ll never fully get it, I noticed one startling thing:

Jesus experienced rejection in each of those five areas in the days or moments leading up to the crucifixion.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if Jesus had a primary love language (after all, God is love. Period). It isn’t about guessing if there is a way in which we can or can’t show our love in a way that resonates to the Most High. It’s that Jesus experienced the negative effects in each of these categories.

Physical Touch

The cat of nine tails clawing at his back, intentionally being thrashed into his flesh over and over.

Thorns pressed deep into soft flesh.

Nails. Driven down, down, down.

Oh, and the lack of air. Yes, the gasping over and again, desperate for just one. more. breath.

Words of Affirmation

“Crucify. Crucify!”

Mocking, ridiculing, taunting.

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?” (Luke 22:63-64)

Quality Time

The very men Jesus poured everything into had a choice as he faced his darkest hour. Endure the trail with him or skidaddle.

Most fled.

One denied. Over and over and over. “I don’t know the man.”

Can you imagine that? Right as things get hard, you overhear your best friend say, “nope. I don’t know her. Never met her.” That’s pretty much what the Rock said. Let’s add that line to the lack of words of affirmation category, too.

Acts of Service

Purple designated royalty, and for once a robe of that color graced Jesus’ shoulders, but only in mockery. The closest the masses came that day to paying him respect was riddled with sarcasm and disdain. Nothing kind was done to Jesus that day. But everything unkind was.

Gifts

That sharp crown pressed much too deep.

The purple robe, a vivid display of mockery.

And a beam weighing 30-40 pounds, laid upon his back to carry to the place where he would die. Or at least carry it as far as his tortured body would allow.

But What About Love?

Like I said, when someone we love does the opposite of our primary love language, it pierces deep.

But these people obviously didn’t love Jesus, right?

Probably not, or at least they didn’t display it in those moments.

Be he loved them so very, very much.

Us, too.

A love I won’t begin to understand.

A love that became the reason to endure pain reaching levels our minds can’t fathom. Willingly, so.

 

What is your love language? How do you respond or feel when someone you care about hurts you in that vernacular? How does that enhance your view of Easter and Jesus’ five love languages of the cross?

 

 

The Wisdom of the Seasons: Finding Grace in the Unexpected

Solomon in all of his wisdom reminds in Ecclesiastes that there is a “time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to ….

and a time to …”

Many consider the book to be depressing, especially as it repeats a heavy phrase:

“This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

For me, however, Solomon’s words don’t render me defeated. Instead, they give me hope in 2 ways:

  1. There is a time for everything. Just not all at once.

One of my dear friends has reminded me of this multiple times (thanks, Judy!). I wish I could say she repeated it because she forgot that she’d told me before and not because I’m a stubborn soul who thought, “most people can’t make time for everything in one season but watch me. I have this uncanny knack for juggling all kinds of things.” It takes a while to get stuff through this head of mine, especially the things that cause me to slow down or (gulp!) hit the pause button on some of the things I never thought I could go a day or a week without.

Oh, I see my words and they reek of addiction and idolatry even though they were the very things that I felt God called me to. They were the things He called me to during that season.

2. Seasons change.

I never imagined being back in the States at this point in my life or the storms I’d weather. Nor could I have guessed that I’d find myself with such overflowing joy.

In the middle of our Colorado winters, I don’t wish the flowers would burst forth again. I know it’d simply kill them early and prevent the beautiful display they’d bring in the spring and summer. Dare I steal a phrase and say that’d be meaningless? A chasing after the wind? The winter simply is winter, that make-some-more-hot-cocoa time that comes before the trees show off their gorgeous blooms.

I’m slowly unraveling this wisdom in my life. At first I missed some of the “flowers” of my earlier seasons, yet with time, I stopped missing them altogether.

And then freaked out, scared that not noticing their absence meant they were gone forever.

Yet as certain seasons appear to be back in bloom in my life, I’m reminded of the very truth I learned way back in kindergarten. There are four seasons. Some things happen in one, while other things appear to be dead.

So to the person who is weary from trying to do it all and finds herself getting further and further behind, take it from this girl who is 1/8 of a second ahead of you.

Stop.

Some of the things might need to wait. Yes, really. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean we’re bad people or even that we’re shirking the things God placed deep within us (unless its feeding your kids. That one isn’t seasonal and is more like a minute-to-minute thing, at least in my house!).

And if there is anyone other than myself who had to surrender to the seasons, begrudgingly setting aside the thing that we didn’t think possible to set down because there were just too many other things that had be attended to, let’s take a few laps in the deeps of grace-grace for ourselves, that is. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been quite hard on myself as I’ve expected things of me that I’d never dream of thinking others should accomplish.

I thought the daffodils of my life should have been in full bloom during the winter blizzards.

Foolishness. Chasing after the wind.

As I celebrate the green stalks that push their way through the tough soil in my backyard and prepare to unfurl petals of golds, pinks and purples, I remind myself:

“There is a season for everything.”

And then, only by the sweet grace of God, I’ll revel in the season He has placed me in right now.

Come join me.

Stacy Voss

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