Open your Hands

Like a knife slicing through butter, I stepped out of my house and into the crisp yet somehow damp with humidity morning. It’s not abnormal for Texas to provide such paradoxical weather. I clomped over to my car door and noticed a butterfly perched on the handle with outstretched wings. Instinctively I froze and gently eased my hand in front of the butterfly. It slowly placed one spindly leg after onto my hand. Time seemed to pause as I held the butterfly in the palm of my hand. Every now and then the little guy (maybe girl?) would flutter its wings as it explored the newfound territory. I tried to put him on a nearby shrub. but he was quite content to sit on my hand. The moment was so beautiful. Still I was itching to grab my phone out of the purse slung on my arm to catch a picture. At the same time I didn’t want to scare off the butterfly with my movements. I forced myself to wait and be in the moment. Yet the ridiculous internal battle raged on. After several agonizing minutes, I slowly maneuvered my other arm and pulled out my phone for the picture. As I looked through my phone’s screen and readied myself to take the photo, the butterfly fluttered away.

Of course there was a lesson to be learned in this for me. As I watched the butterfly float away on the thick air, I immediately heard the tender whisper from Abba, Father, “Don’t be distracted with holding onto things- I will provide more tomorrow.” My desire to take a picture of the beauty in my hands was birthed out of my want to hold on to the moment for longer than the fleeting minutes I thought it would be. I knew the butterfly would not stay there forever, and I wanted to keep the moment. I wanted to show my kids, show my friends, maybe even put a pretty quote on it and feature it in a blog. Whatever my good intentions were, the thoughts of physically hanging on to this beautiful encounter were distracting me from the moment itself. And not only that,  but my obsession put a damper on the beauty of the fleeting gift that the visit from the butterfly was. You see the gifts, the moments, the people, the material possessions, part of what makes them so special is that they are momentary. From a macro level of viewing this in my own life, I will not be on this earth forever. One day this body will die and become new with Jesus. In the grand scheme of eternity, my time here is short. Therefore I want to run as fast as I can in pursuit of my forerunner Jesus. Even if it means falling and scraping my knees. By grace, I rise and press on. Following every God-given dream, saying, “Yes”, to every calling, and passionately utilizing ever gift planted by the Lord within my soul. I want to love deeply out of the wellspring of love crashing into me from the Lord. To bring Him glory from my surrender, to make Him known through my life. His voice guides me on, “Come, child.”

If you are new to my blog, then you don’t know that my family is planning to become full-time missionaries and are moving to Norway in March, God-willing. There are so many baby steps to even getting the change to take this giant leap of faith. There is a daily surrendering to the Lord’s ability to accomplish the task of provision and endurance for us to get there. And despite the challenge, it has been amazing for our family. Our faith is swelling, our flame burning bright, and our family is becoming closer to God and one another than I thought possible. Yesterday started out so well, and then something in me shifted. Granted, being on the phone with an internet company for an hour and a half to troubleshoot a work issue probably played a role in my mood. But regardless, a heaviness began to fall on me. I knew why the entire time but I fought it. I had just had a crazy intensely miraculous week. Every day was full of stretching and miraculous provision. So much good. And still, I was tired. “Rest, child“, the Lord whispered to me over and over again. I fought it. I was frustrated with my relationships for a list of conjured up reasons, angry that my voice was hoarse and I couldn’t even sing to worship my way out. I was tired. I was desperately hanging on to every thing but the Lord. I cleaned my house and posted pictures of my couch on the internet to be sold for our missions fund. Not long afterwards my kids asked to build a tent, and I obliged. I began to rearrange the very furniture that we planned to sell in my living room and I built the coolest blanket fort around. In that action, I even thought to myself that I would miss having the furniture that our family had made so many memories with. As any parent probably knows, the next request from my children came as no surprise, “Come hang out in our tent with us, Mommy!” Isn’t is so like our children to cry out to us the very things our souls cry out to the Lord? I crawled inside the plush fortress like a swaddled giant and at last the Lord beautifully wrecked me. Wrecked my walls, anyways. “Open your hands“, Abba whispered.

Surrender the plans, the future, the giftings, the possessions, the people. Surrender the moments. Surrender my life. Every day the Lord wants me to have open palms. This is the same posture that allowed a beautiful butterfly to rest on my hand. Open palms to release what I have already obtained and to receive new, fresh manna. Not to grip on to things so hard that I have no room for newness. God wants you and I to live with open palms to constantly receive His fullness, His beauty, His goodness. We cannot create eternity, it has already been written on our hearts. We need only to lean into Him, giving up ourselves, trusting that He is enough, and receiving all that He has for us. So open up your hands today. Give up your life. Give the Lord your good and your bad. Trust that He will provide you more. He is a good Dad.


You ready for this?

It has been almost an entire week since my family has prayerfully locked in on to the exact place we will begin our full-time missionary journey, received acceptance into the organization, and basically jumped off a cliff into the unknown. How are we going to get  funding? Who will partner with us? What does life overseas look like for a young family? When will come back? Will we come back? After four years of marriage and both of us resisting the call into missions, we have finally obeyed the Lord’s call in this area. After many, many months of praying, at last, we have peace and clarity in this specific decision for our family. Even though we firmly know this decision is founded on what God has spoken to us and His peace; still, to others we are doing something crazy by selling our belongings, raising up a team of partners, moving to Norway to begin our journey of going out to all nations to love people like Christ loves us. We have several times joked out loud about how crazy that sounds-even to us. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. A few nights ago I had my first moment of panic, feeling the weight of all that must be done to prepare-the questions I shared with you at the beginning of this post. And in that moment of doubt, fear, and wrong thinking, I heard the Lord so clearly whisper into my racing mind, “You are my child”. It took all I had to repeat over and over, “I am a child of God”; quickly my mind was soothed like a spooked baby and I fell asleep.

Rejection was always a fear of mine. I’m sure most of us have a middle school memory like mine: I’m standing amidst a group of kids, waiting for one of the team captains to excitedly choose me to be on their team. I bite my nails as I hope to be chosen, but the choosing doesn’t come. I’m just not good enough in the team captain’s eyes. There were many times that I didn’t get picked; therefore I was put on whichever team was leftover at the end. I was a leftover. And it stung, that small form of rejection. I began to feel the need to prove myself, to prove my worth. I became a beast at volleyball and cheerleading. I was a performer and I had an audience to please.

Taking the roots of rejection in my life back even further, I wasn’t raise by my birth parents for various reasons and circumstances. I praise God that after a while, those relationships have now been reconciled tenfold. But regardless of the ‘why?‘, as a little girl with curly blonde hair, that feeling of being rejected by them still rooted in me and effected every decision I made. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be deemed valuable to people so that they wouldn’t leave me. I spent my youth striving to be accepted. Which as you can imagine or have probably experienced yourself, brought on all kinds of chaos in my relationships.

In fact this was something I just revisited last Saturday. That morning my mom, who parented me, brought over my birth certificate to be processed with our passport applications. I unfolded the old piece of worn paper, and noticed that I actually have no father listed on my birth certificate. Legally I am fatherless. Although I was blessed to have been raised by an amazing dad whom loved me though he wasn’t bound to me by blood, and though I was able to spend a brief few days with my birth father overtime before he passed away, still…the pain of having no earthly father claim me on the day I entered this world was like ripping off a scab.

Praise be to God that this particular scab was covering a wound that was already healing underneath. Although it stung to be removed, there was fresh pink skin underneath that scab just waiting to be exposed to the air and light. The scab needed to go, and this time I didn’t stay in that sad place of rejection. I didn’t go down my own mental path of destruction. Instead I saw the rejection for what it was, an invitation for me to accept God’s truth. I do have a Father. I am a child of God. And more than just being one child of many children. I am His child. His girl.  The one whom God sent His Son to die for. The one whom God raised to life with His Son on the third day. This Father-daughter relationship is way more intimate and personal than merely being a kid standing in a group waiting to be picked. This love is way more detailed than the word typed “unknown” near the place where a father’s name belongs on your birth certificate. No, no, this is an endless pursuit of love, an every millisecond of every day, for all eternity kind of love. The “I choose you” even at your worst kind of love. The love of God is personal, specific, tailor made just for me and just for you. My Father is not unknown. My Father is, He always was, and He always will be. There is nowhere I can go that He will not be. There is nothing I can do that He will not steadily guide me in. My Father doesn’t forsake, He doesn’t forget me. He isn’t misleading, He isn’t hesitant. My Father has a plan, and it is good. My Father knows me and loves me. My Father goes before me, and walks behind me. My Father surrounds me, and no weapon formed against me will prosper. I am a child of God. That is my status, that is my promise, that is my identity.

That kind of revelation makes our family’s move to Norway feel like a walk in the park. That kind of security in your identity makes man’s opinions of you invalid. My God has spoken. And what His word does not return void. The truth of God is strong and firm, a truth I can stand on forever. Nothing is impossible for a co-heir with Christ, we need only abide in Him.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:16-17 NKJV)


The funds to go out and love on the nations will come from God because He is God and He is our supplier. Even though Norway is across the world, there is no where I can go that God is not there. He will not abandon us there or anywhere. I’m not afraid to free fall into the unknown. Because the ‘unknown‘ really is not unknown. And that’s what I’m beginning to see.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3 NIV)

Nothing is unknown to the One True God who created literally everything. Friend, I encourage you today to release your fear. Maybe it looks like a middle school team captain sneering at your wobbly knees. Maybe it looks like obeying the Lord’s call over your life into a destiny you deem impossible. Fear is a spirit, and it flees when the love of God comes crashing in. I pray the Lord totally wreck your walls and strongholds holding you back right now as you read my testimony. You are chosen. You are loved beyond measure. You have a purpose and a calling. Now, jump!

“But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:18-21 NKJV)


The Feast of Tabernacles

Last year I shared a little bit with you all about Sukkot, a season of drawing near to God as He draws near to us. This is my favorite Biblical festival. Every year the Lord does amazing things with and in my family during this time! This is day two of Sukkot and God has already moved mountains for my family. My husband is so on fire for the Lord, I can’t even describe how amazing it is to witness. My kids are loving being out in our sukkah (temporary dwelling) or more technically, our tent set up in our back yard. Camping out in a tent in your backyard, doesn’t seem glamorous from the outside looking in. Who would willingly choose to endure mosquito bites and Texas humidity when they have a perfectly good air-conditioned home? We are those seemingly crazy people.

Why, you ask? When we take the leap of faith to come out in nature, set up a temporary home, and expect the Lord to show up with us, He does. Every time. This is our fourth year to do Sukkot, And each new year is even more miraculous than the last.

Our very first year to celebrate Sukkot was in 2014, and it was just Brenner and I. We were in the middle of planning our wedding which was only two weeks away, and I started feeling really bloated and sick. We were living with my mom, Stacy, and stepdad at the time. Stacy had pregnancy tests on hand and encouraged me to take one. Five tests, several lines and plus signs later, and they all showed the same result: I was pregnant. I immediately fell into condemnation. All of the voices of shame and rejection flooded my mind. That’s the real reason they’re getting married. What a sinner! She’s not a real Christian. And so on. Every lie pointed to my pregnancy being a mistake, and even deeper, to me being a mistake. Honestly, yes, it was sinful for us to not wait until our marriage to be intimate. The Lord commands us to wait for marriage to have sex for a reason. Wait because of all of the pain that can come with wholly giving yourself to someone outside of marriage that you were never meant for. Wait because there is miraculous value in a covenant between God and man. Wait because God is good and His plans are good. It’s true and I don’t deny it. The sin was a mistake, but the little baby in my belly was not and neither were we. Believing that truth took a lot of time spent dwelling in the grace and mercy of the Father and a great deal of life spoken over us from my team of encouragers. God redeems even the worst of the worst like me.

Now that we got that out of the way let’s get back to my family’s first Sukkot. We found out we were having a baby. Rewind to the year before, I laid on a doctor’s medical table and heard the words, “you had a miscarriage”. At eighteen years old in the heat of my dark past, that sent me off the deep end. So fast forward back to finding out I was pregnant again, that fear was a steady pulse in my heart. Still, because of my relationship with Christ, I let the joy flood me and was excited as Stacy took us to a pregnancy center to receive a free sonogram. Again I found myself on a table with eyes filled with tears as I refused to search the screen any longer for a missing heartbeat. Again I heard the words, “you had another miscarriage”. It shattered me, but this time I had my future husband and my reconciled relationship with my mom to speak truth and hold up my broken pieces. I signed the paper stating that I had a miscarriage, prayed with the nurse that took care of me, and left feeling empty. We got back to their house and my family instantly went to battle for me. They prayed life over me, rejected the death report and spoke life over me. They believed, and that helped my unbelief. Later that night the nurse who took care of me at the center called me. Her alias can be, Cher. Apparently Cher took my number off of my paperwork and called me personally. Which is totally unheard of, and still I’m so glad she did. I’ll never forget it. Cher sounded almost frantic as she immediately asked me if I had gone to the E.R. to have the miscarriage removed through a D&C. I told her about our choice to believe life over the baby and that I hadn’t gone to the hospital. Cher was so overjoyed because she said that she just didn’t feel peace about the miscarriage. Cher felt like it was wrong too. Wow!

So we set up an OBGYN appointment for the next business day, which was 4 days later (note: The story of Lazarus in John 11) and we prayerfully waited. Brenner worked late nights at Walgreens and I spent time with God and my reconciled family in their sukkah as we waited. Before I knew it I was laying on a new table with a new doctor, staring at a ceiling because I couldn’t bear to witness my empty womb again. Yet this time I heard the room gasp. Stacy cried out with joyful tears as the Doctor countered my worst fear and told me that my baby was alive. My shattered heart both healed and burst a thousand times in one moment of joy. That was a day our lives changed and has continued to since. One miraculous Sukkot, one beautiful covenant marriage, and two children later, here we are on year four. By the grace of God, our lives just get sweeter ever day. What a blessing it has been for my family to celebrate the Biblical Hebrew festivals. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is faithful! I wonder where we will be next year?

Here are a couple of scriptures that will shed some light on Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.” (Leviticus‬ ‭23:33-34‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John‬ ‭1:10-14‬ ‭NKJV)

  • In this one, the word ‘dwelt’ actually means ‘tabernacled’! So cool! Jesus was actually born during Sukkot! Powerful stuff!

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.” (Zechariah‬ ‭14:16-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

  • I love this one so much because it shows that we will all be celebrating Sukkot with the Lord after He returns!

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.””(Revelation‬ ‭7:15-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

  • This is our hope! This is what Sukkot foreshadows, our joyful expectation of what’s to come!

Whether you celebrate the Biblical festivals or not, I pray that you would draw near to God as He is drawing near to you in this season and expect miracles from the Miraculous One! Be blessed,

Lacey


Want to learn more about Sukkot and your faith in the Messiah’s Hebraic roots? Check out this great resource!