Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

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When Suffering Leads to Identity

“I hate cancer and I hate what it’s doing, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

Those were the words (or close to it) that my former boss said in a sermon he co-preached on suffering last night. He spoke the words while putting some pressure on the trach that was inserted into his throat, a result of the stage four thyroid cancer that wreaked havoc on his vocal cords.

 

I’ve never battled cancer (thankfully), but there are some incredible heroes in my life that have, all of whom share one great commonality: fluff became a thing of the past. Spiritual cliches were retired once and for all, replaced by a deep-rooted faith, a confident knowing of the One who clutched their hand through the hardest of times.

My friend and author, Michele Cushatt, is another example of these real-life heroes whose faith might have wavered at times during her horrific bouts with cancer, but ultimately strengthened into a living, breathing belief that oozes out with every lisped word (the lisp as a result of the last round of cancer when the doctors removed a large portion of her tongue). She had been climbing the Christian speaking circuit when she first learned of the cancer in her mouth–one typically found amongst those who chew tobacco, although she’s never touched the stuff. I can’t begin to fathom all that she went through emotionally, physically and spiritually, yet my mind keeps recalling one scene I lived many, many years ago after learning of my husband’s infidelity.

We had been missionaries and his actions cost him (us) our job. Returning to the states, I began taking 13 keys off my keychain. I no longer needed the key to the house we rented in Mexico, or the gates securing that property, or to our car that was about to be given away, or anything else. Within minutes, I went from toting a heavy, rattling set of keys to an empty “0.” That’s how I felt–empty, hollow and purposeless.

Who am I?

Sure, I knew I was more than a car-key wielding person, but each little piece of metal seemed to hold a portion of my identity that got tossed in the trash.

I’d imagine that’s how Michele felt, too, as the thought of speaking again seemed to disappear.

Or as her hair disappeared.

Or as her ability to do many of the normal, everyday things plummeted.

And she, too, had to ask, “Who am I?”

Her answer will astound you. No, scratch that. It isn’t truly her answer. Yes, she wrote the book “I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is,” but the words were scribed many, many years ago. Michele just brings them to life for those of us who have gotten tangled in the infinite things that try convincing us that our value is less than it really is. Here are but a few little peeks at what you get to uncover during the 60-day journey with Michele:

-I am heard

-I am sinful

-I am lost

-I am renewed

-I am fought for (oh, mercy, yes!)

– I am empowered

-I am enough

Amazing, right? It is!

This incredible book releases January 24th. BUT, if you pre-order (as in today!), then you get a bunch of freebies, too! You can go to iambook.net for more info or to grab a copy. Or, your fav bookstore should have it in stock in the next few days (but of course, if you wait, you won’t get all of the great extras!).

If you ever ask “who am I”, this book is for you! If you’ve never asked that question, well, I’m just stumped because I’ve honestly never met anyone who hasn’t, myself included!

Happy reading!

Stacy Voss

 

Navigating Christmas: Lost

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

At least that what’s Andy Williams sings.

For some it is, but for others, it’s anything but. Rocky roads filled with in-laws, overly stretched budgets, and too many activities can take their toll.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at a few common obstacles we encounter while on those long road trips out to see family and look at how those challenges can be the same as those we face this time of year.

If you’re anything like me, one of the biggest roadblocks to getting where I need to be is me. More specifically, put me in a state that doesn’t have towering mountains that act like a large compass and I’m completely sunk. In fact, even when driving somewhere new in my mountainous hometown, one of the first things I do before setting out is to plug the address into my GPS.

I’m typically not a conspiracy-theory type, but there times a few years ago that I wondered if there was a secret cahoots between the navigation folks and the oil company. I’d be on my way, going down a main thoroughfare, when suddenly the voice informed me to turn right.

“But I know it’s further across town,” I’d think although I was heading someone I’d never gone to before.

“In 200 feet, turn right,” she repeated.

Being the ever dutiful person, I obeyed. The voice took me on a loop through a neighborhood and spit me back onto the major road I had turned off of minutes before–in the same exact spot!

“What are you doing?” I not-so-quietly asked the non-human that was providing me with directions. Not surprisingly, she didn’t respond. So the next time she told me how to get to my destination, I took a different approach. That’s polite talk for saying I got myself so royally confused I had no concept as to where I was.

I tend to get lost more often in December, whether that’s as I drive the kids to an outdoor skating rink we’ve never been to or heading to someone’s house to deliver some cookies. But I also get lost in a different sense. Sometimes its because I fret too much over to what to buy those I cherish. Other times its from trying to tackle the longer than normal to-do list. Other days it comes from wanting this time of year to draw me closer to the Messiah, yet I find myself preoccupied with things that just don’t matter.

Yet as I drive at night or sit on the couch nestled by my tree, the lights serve as a quiet reminder–a navigation pointing me back to Truth.

I am the light of the world.” John 8:12

Sometimes, this sense of being lost extends beyond the garland and mistletoe. A slow drift from the deep love we once held for that Light leaves us feeling too far away to even ask that inner GPS to lead and guide.

You already know that I’ve had words with my GPS before. Too many times to count, actually. But here’s the thing: the GPS has never responded back. Ever. Not even on the times when I thought I knew better and refused to follow it’s directions. No,

“Stacy, what are you doing? Why don’t you just listen to me?”

or

“How dumb can you possibly be?”

Sure, I have it coming, but the recorded voice doesn’t say it.

So if you find yourself lost, take some time to reorient yourself with the purest and truest GPS ever–that which promises to live in us to lead and direct.

Stacy Voss

What about you? What do you do when you lose your way? 

Unexpected Joy

untitled-3We’re wrapping up the weekend of thanks (or dare I say the day or hours of thanks before singing the songs of praise over finding good deals?). And while I had plenty to be thankful for on turkey day, my grateful-barometer runs over even more today.

Yes, today. A non-scheduled gratitude day.

A non-everything day, as in nowhere to be other than church (and even then, we had multiple service times to pick from). Non as in the mental list of things to was simply that: mental. Any and all things that I suddenly chose to erase could slip away without anyone knowing. And non as in nothing fancy planned. No outings or big events.

And yet, in the midst of the non, the peace bubbled over, a warm tea type of feeling that penetrated beyond the simple “I’m grateful for a house (which I so very much am!)” or “I love my kids” or any of the other cliche gratitude standbys. Nope, this was the deep kind of gratitude that swells up from the unexpected.

It was unexpected because the challenges I faced yesterday still exist today. So are the uncertainties and the dreams I hope become a reality, yet find myself apprehensive to let my heart hope for them.

In the midst of the routine of life, joy jumped out in full force. Perhaps it was because I got to spend more time with my Girlie today, something I’ve missed as I’ve spent too much time the last few weeks recovering from a minor surgery. Or maybe it was because I finally gave myself permission to non, to unplug in a way that had no deadline or schedules.  Or maybe it’s because that thing called gratitude that I once held so dearly onto but somehow let slip away ounce by ounce came thundering back in and these once-strong muscles of gratefulness are finding their way yet again.

Whatever it is, I wish it for you, too. I know we’re entering the season of hurry, but don’t pack the gratitude away like I accidentally did. Instead, give yourself permission to stop, savor and be filled–filled with joy and peace!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Stacy Voss

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