Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I'm Asking For Your Help

Readers ~

My intentions for this blog have been fairly clear from the beginning, I think . I have wanted to be real and forthcoming with my every day walk of faith in life so that others may feel that they can be just as honest in theirs wherever they may be . My hope is that someone might read one of my blogs and feel a little less alone in their struggles, trials, victories, ideas so on and so forth .

In an effort to be consistent in this desire I feel a need to reach out for some answers , ideas , suggestions , inspiration or tips for a lack of a better word, from you my friends and readers . You span the globe and come from such varied walks of life . I always appreciate your kind words to me whether they come in a private message or a public post on my page . I appreciate your taking the time either way . For the sake of today's post and the idea that I may not be the only one struggling I'd appreciate your words to be in a public post if at all possible . If you aren't comfortable with that I still welcome your private messages as well .

For close to a month now I have been training, learning, and working a new job . I am unsure I have ever felt this consistently physically beat up by the end of a day . Yes, my work/ministry before was emotionally and spiritually draining, but it rarely gave me blisters . I have loved learning something new . It's been so long since something has been totally new to me that with each new experience and learning moment I feel like a more accomplished person . I always have in my mind that every experience has a purpose and that who knows where what I'm learning now might lead  me . With that said, I have also faced  some of the most physically difficult days since my days working concert production . The difference between my days now and my days in concert production are that in CP it was one day every several weeks or month that lasted for 18 hours or so that was physically demanding . Now, every day is physically demanding for about 8 hours in a row . There's a difference . Trust me ! That recovery time between concerts is worth it's weight in gold to me now that I don't have it . There have been nights or afternoons when I leave my current job and sob (ugly girl cry sob) the entire hour drive home . Asking God, "surely this isn't what You desire for Your daughter ? surely You do not find joy in this pain" . I have soaked my feet , put antibiotic on blisters , taken what feels like a bottles worth of some form of ache reliever , sought counsel , read His Word, prayed, prayed, prayed and prayed.......oh and prayed . With each new day there seems to be a brand new bundle of anxieties , stress , and multiple moments of , "this is it, I'm quitting. Right here . Right now." While I'm 100% sure my co-laborers would straight kill me if I put into action that thought, I am still tempted by it . Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for this job and learning experience . I realize what a blessing it is in today's economy to even have a job . I'm also blessed to work with mostly amazing individuals .

At the end of today I am sure that I must be under some sort of spiritual war fare . I officially am breaking up with today .  It was yet another, "one of those days". If it wasn't one thing it was ten all at one time . Just to catch you up on the last few days, I have been sick for about 4 days w a nervous tummy/no appetite (lost 6lbs in 3 days, while I'm super o.k. w weight loss I doubt this is the best way to go about it), my father was scheduled for a heart procedure, and I made some difficult personal choices concerning who I spend my time with and how much .  It is a no brainer to say that my heart is weary . Now, to brief you on today......I got to work earlier than needed (I had to wake at 5 a.m. and this doesn't make for a happy a.m.) , my schedule had been changed by an hour (which is how long it takes me to get there),  had nearly every computer have some sort of break down , had multiple guests with poor attitudes , my lunch exploded in the microwave leaving me to spend half of my lunch time cleaning up the mess, snack machine wouldn't take my dollar for the bag of pretzels I was gonna force myself to eat just so I would have something in my tummy , the a/c went out in my car on my way home , and a blister burst....revealing another blister under it (gross I know, but it's the reality of my day) . That was just today . The last month has been FILLED with days such as this . I'm proud to report I didn't swear, hit someone , or quit before quitting time even after all these distresses . I have also yet to cry.....however the day is not over . So, we'll let that one sit for a while .

I battle with the idea that this is where I'm suppose to be . I know that I am currently in a situation where my every day actions , how I handle stress, the debacles of a day and the people around me speak loudly to those I work with and for . This is my first experience in a looooooooonggggggg time working "outside" " the ministry ' . I do my best to handle it all with grace and patience . However, when I get in my car and trek the hour back home , take the aspirin , soak my weary soles and begin crying out to God in my physical pain and selfish flesh, I can't help but question . Am I where I'm suppose to be ? If I was , wouldn't it be easier ? Why does everyone else SEEM to have it so easy ? Is God ignoring me ? What is wrong with my walk that this physical pain is needed ? Is this spiritual war fare ? Is it simply the devil trying to make me as uncomfortable as possible when I am exactly where I need to be ? Probably so, is more than likely the answer to that last question .

So, my question to you is how do you combat times of such war fare ?  Would you agree that this possibly is war fare of some sort or do you see it differently ? Are there some "go-to" verses that you have stored up for such a time  ? Can you recall times such as this where it seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel ? How did you handle them and what did you learn in that time ?

I look forward to your feed back . Thank you for taking time to share in my "awful , no good , very bad day " . I appreciate this space we have together to share and be "real" . I prefer to think of it as being raw !! I don't want to be a constant complainer so, I'm gonna make it a very important "to-do" to write about how God has blessed me as well . Because He surely has sent blessings during this time to keep me going . I read a quote somewhere such as www.pinterest.com that said , "what if all you woke up with today was what you had thanked God for yesterday " , sobering thought .

Thank you for loving me as I am . Good days and Bad ones .
~ Stacie

Friday, July 27, 2012

Here Am I Lord . Send Me .

Close to fifteen years ago I said to the Lord, "here am I, send me" . Proclaiming to Him that Isaiah 6:8 was apart of my heart beat . At the time , my biggest fear was that He would take me up on my word and send me to some remote tribe that didn't speak my language . Turns out it was a fear with a little back bone to it . One year later the Lord sent me to Kenya, Africa for close to two weeks with about 30 or so other college students . There we ministered to people through school programs , bible camps , and just by being around and loving on them . I remember sitting in a school convocation with the smallest little Kenyan child on my lap . I don't know that I'll ever forget their desire to simply be touched and loved . To be in a moment of calm and peace . I hope that feeling of holding him never leaves my heart .

Several years after that the Lord would send me to El Salvador through my work . I was apart of a university mission based office that helped plan and execute missions trips for college students . In El Salvador I was more certain that I've ever been that I just might die . Several days into the trip I got a parasite through some unwashed veggies . The night I got the parasite I had given my testimony just after dinner . I had shared with a group of women that I wasn't too sure about what the Lord had for me in life (some things never change huh ?), but that for all I knew my entire life's purpose was that very moment . That moment of sharing with them what the Lord had done for me up until that point and that I was sure He'd remain faithful to me beyond that point . I shared with them that if all of my life had been for that one moment of letting them know that He loved them and had plans for them , then my life was complete . Several hours later I would wake up sicker than I had ever been . Close to twelve  hours beyond that I would be taken to a hospital were I would have seizures, issues receiving IV fluids, and be medicated for the almost the remainder of my time in that country . Several days into my hospitalization I began to feel some what better . I was able to sit up and look out the door towards the beautiful landscape that surrounded the hospital . I battled with bitterness, defeat , and utter confusion. Why would He send me to a country to proclaim His name and then allow me to spend the majority of the visit ill, medicated and confined to a hospital room ?! In the silence of that moment I felt the Lord calming my heart and letting me know I would be a "send-er" not a "go-er" when it came to the mission field . He spoke so very clearly that I was to be in prayer for my team and the people they where ministering too . That I had been given the distinct privilege of time , peace and quiet . While my team had a very hectic schedule to keep with all of the different schools, Church's, and malls they had been invited to, I had hours upon hours of quiet. Peaceful time to sit in prayer for them . I knew the specific needs of the team because I had been training with them for months prior to our trip as well as spent several days on the field with them . I knew several of the team members for years through my work . He had called me there to minister alright , it was just to a different group of people than I had originally imagined . I was able to leave the hospital a day prior to our leaving El Salvador . I went back to our team and while singing praises to our God and hearing stories about their time in El Salvador I had the honor of seeing the immediate fruit of my time in prayer . He really did want for me to spend my time in that country in continual prayer . Believe me, when you feel as ill as I did all you can do is cry out to God .

Since Kenya and El Salvador my heart has longed to be apart of the group of people who get to "go", but I've also found a peace in being someone who "sends" . I say "send" in a way that means provide financial support , prayers, supplies, or encouragement . Ever since my time on "the field" I've continued to pray that prayer in Isaiah 6:8, ".....her am I Lord, send me" . Tonight I sat in the lunch room of my business at the furthermost table in the furthermost corner of the room . I had sat down  in the empty room thinking I would get some much needed quiet from the busy day and a moment to my self . Not five minutes into my lunch one of the college girls I work with came in and sat down with me . Not long after her another joined us and then two of the college guys . While I sat there I heard them say to me out of no where , "We like being around you . You get us . " and "You don't make me feel dumb. You let me know you make mistakes and are learning all this too, with us " . I found such a overwhelming feeling of thankfulness that the Lord would allow me this encouragement . My new job is so demanding it sometimes feels impossible for one person. The encouragement and kind words where just what I needed after such a chaotic day and the energy boost I needed to get through the chaotic night .

As I drove home tonight I lingered on some of the things I'd been told at lunch . It was random, unsolicited, and so thought provoking . All this time I've been praying , "Lord, here am I. Send me. " , "Lord, my greatest desire is to be in Your will", and " Father, please, I beg of You. SPEAK!!" .  I've considered Him silent for so long now . This is one of several encounters with my young co-workers that the Lord has used to speak to me . I'm unsure it really sunk in until tonight though . Had it been up to me alone I would've quit this job several weeks ago . On the nights when I had a good ol' ugly girl cry on my hour drive home because I was so beat up, worn, defeated and sore that I thought for sure there was NO WAY this was God's plan for me . Here I sit after months of prayer , tears and contemplation about what the Lord has for me , where He wants me to go, what He wants me to do
for His glory and He has FINALLY answered me . He gave me an answer I already had close to fifteen years ago . I said to Him, "here am I Lord, send me". I told Him with my entire heart beat my greatest desire in life is to please Him and serve Him in ANY way He see fit . I begged from Him direction and to hear His voice in a undeniable way . And for the last several weeks He has been trying to SPEAK as I requested . He has been trying to use me in His service in the way He sees fit and He has been "sending" me a hour north every day to His people . I realized tonight that I very well may come in contact with more lost people in my new position in "the world" than I ever did on "the field" . I still believe I am a "send-er" . I still long to some day spend more time some where on this globe loving His people with his love . But for now, I am sent not so far . To love on people who are just as desperate for Him as any .

My greatest prayer at this very moment is that I would be a light that draws people in, not to myself, but to Him . They may at the moment think they are drawn to me because of my humor, understanding, patience, or willingness to admit a mistake . I however know it is my love for Him and the glorious things He continues to do in my life that truly draws them in because with out Him I am nothing . I am definitely not humorous, understanding or patient without Him . No way . No how .

So, dear readers and friends as you read this I ask for your prayers . I want to be a light in a dark world , (John 12:46) . As I recall my words to the women that night in El Salvador they may ring truer now than they have since then . My life's purpose may be for this very moment . To share with these co-workers and guests the Love that I have been given and get to give because of His grace . This may not be where I would've chosen to go if I'd been given a map and a wish, but it is surely where I am meant to be for the moment . I'm unsure how long this moment will last so I've gotta do my best to make it count for Him .

Dear Lord -

Let me fall into the shadows and You take the spot light . I pray with the deepest part of me that You would be able to speak through me to the people I come in contact with every day . Use my humor , my patience , my willingness to admit a fault as something that would direct them back to You . I pray that if given the opportunity to give the reason for the hope that is with in me (1 Peter 3:15) that I would be able to do it with love , respect and words that they might understand . Thank You Father for loving me through the rough times, forgiving me in the dark times and being my reason for hope . Thank You for finding me worthy after all this time and all my sins . I love You with every heart beat I have . To You be ALL the glory !!

 ~ In Your Love & Service - Stacie

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Quick Zucchini Bread Update

A quick update on my zucchini bread.......it's awesome !!!! If you'd like to read more about it or see the recipe I used click here . Happy Baking !!!

One Loaf - minus pecans & nutmeg due to my
grandmothers allergies. One Loar w/ nutmeg, pecans and rasins !!

Yummy in the Tummy !!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Home Grown ~ Home Made ~ Zucchini Bread

Today has been a mentally straining day . In an effort to clear my mind and busy my hands I decided to work on one of my domestic "to-do's" . My dad has been growing a garden this summer and I'm proud to be a benefactor of some of the fresh veggies . Zucchini has been producing in large amounts  . So, in trying to be a good steward of this fresh garden goodness I've been researching online ways to preserve and use my bounty of zucchini . I have for a long time wanted to try making Zucchini bread so this was my chance . It is currently in the oven baking . I feel so proud to have made it from scratch with the help of my fathers garden . The steps are simple and you can find a plethora of recipes online for just about any variety of zucchini bread that might suit your fancy . I am baking two separate loaves . The original recipe calls for nutmeg and nuts both of which my mamaw is allergic too . So, I'm baking her a free of allergens loaf and another one with nutmeg , nuts, and raisins in it . I can't even wait !! I am crossing my fingers and hoping it turns out amazing .

 The recipe I chose is as follows :

2 eggs beaten 1 1/3 cup sugar , 2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda, Pinch salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 cups shredded zucchini ,
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

Preheat and Bake @ 350 - bake for 50-ish minutes

I will be sure to report back on the success (see me thinking positive) of these loaves of bread .

Another project I worked on to try and preserve my zucchini is freezing . I figured usually veggies are in the frozen section so there must be a secret to making it work at home and not ruining them .

After some research I went with this protocol :

slice zucchini into desired shape

 after having washed and sliced
 blanch = boil for 3-4 minutes

Let Cool and place in freezer bag , date and freeze

I am anxious to try a friends recipe for zucchini fries some time soon as well as some www.pinterest.com recipes as well . Another to-do I'll have to report back to you about at a later time . I hope you are having a wonderful summer . Am I the only one looking forward to Fall already ?

Happy Monday !!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Barista Certified

I mentioned several blogs ago (here) that I have a new job . Part of my new job has allowed me the opportunity to learn about one of my favorite things....COFFEE!!!! The past two weeks I have been in Barista Training with Starbucks . It has been one of the hi-lights of my Summer . I kinda wish I had pursued the idea earlier . I have so enjoyed learning about the Starbucks Brand , coffee , tea and such a variety of other subjects .

It's very funny to me how God works through the simplest & most unexpected things . One exhaustion I have mentioned possibly a gazillion times through out my blog was my frazzledness concerning the college student mind set and environment . I had served in ministry and professionally for close to ten years in the university environment and was plumb worn out . Well, as I've gotten settled into my new job who do you think I am surrounded by ? College Students !!! The last two weeks specifically I've had several college age girls become my work buddies . It seems that loving on, counseling and helping guide this age group may be apart of my life calling . I knew it was for a time, but I had not considered it's life possibilities . As I get to know these girls I realize what a tender spot my heart has for them . They all come from a varied way of being raised , schooling , etc . I don't know why, but it's as if I've known them forever . None of their faces have felt for a moment like someone I didn't know .  And it's amazing to me how me, just being me makes them feel comfortable and like family . Wednesday one of my loudest and craziest new co-workers let out a "awwwww we're like a little family ", during a training session . I couldn't help but laugh . She was so happy to have the realization that through our two weeks of coffee tastings, lectures, and creating we had all bonded.

Today as a stress reliever Target provided a fun time for all of us that have been working so hard to get the new store ready . We had a dunking booth with all of the supervisors as the dunkee's . I think I laughed for a solid hour watching people pitch, miss, and some just run up and hit the bulls eye to dunk a boss . Our supervisors had great attitudes and every one of them took their dunking like a good sport . It was such a needed time of community . Everyone has been working such crazy, long , and difficult days that I think it made all our day a little better to take a moment to relax together and have some fun . This is another thing that continues to amaze me . Our need for community . It is there no matter where we go, work, live, or who we spend our time with . We all desire it some where with in us, even if we don't realize it .

The rest of today was spent completing our Barista Certification, practising a few more drinks, & setting up our new coffee shop inside the new Target . I am proud to say that I completed my first set of Starbucks displays today .
Of Course my FIRST SB Display was PINK!!
Who knows after opening how long they'll
stay so neatly organized and stocked, but at
least they look nice today !

I am also VERY proud to say that I am now a Certified Barista !!! I am far from perfect and hope to get A LOT of practice at some point perfecting my skills behind the coffee bar . I'd LOVE to eventually become a "Coffee Master" as well as complete my "Tea Passport". But for now I am excited about my new education and accomplishment . I believe that even this the Lord can use for His glory . Whether it is through the relationships I have the opportunity to build with my co-workers or the people I have the opportunity to brew coffee for . I am feeling thankful & encouraged.......and super tired !!

Hope to Brew for you SOON !!!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Apartment Gardening ~ Follow Up from Spring Has Spring Blog Post

Carrot Seeds

Strawberry Plant

In March I began my newest hobby of gardening . Since I don't have the tools or space for a "real" garden I tried my hand at something I like to call "apartment gardening". It is simply planting the seeds in flower pots or some other container all other gardening rituals are pretty much the same . In Spring Has Sprung 2 , Grow Where You Are Planted , & Sometimes Things Change Over Night I briefly documented a few of the life lessons as well as gardening lessons I had been learning along the way . It's been awhile since my last report so I wanted to do a quick Summer update .

What I have learned through my "apartment gardening" is that it isn't (or hasn't for me) going to produce the same amount of fruit, veggie, etc. as it would planted in the earth . Room for roots and growth is vital . So, it's super important not to begin with too small of a starter pot . Definitely plan ahead because as your plant grows you will need to re pot it . Re poting can be death if it isn't handled properly for the plant . I.E. my poor excuse for a carrot plant . Also, OVER SEEDING, it's totally a thing . Especially when doing apartment style gardening  as I have been . Be aware of the seeds suggested space and growth needs .

While I would say the majority of my plants have produced some wonderful things I also know that I've learned they will not continue to do so with out proper care . Also, when apartment gardening the "reproduction" seems to be less that when somethings planted in the earth . Some plants will "reproduce" multiple times before dying out . Mine only seemed to reproduce about 2-4 times depending on the plant . It worked for me and the learning I had hoped to do, but I defiantly have made some notes for the next time I try my hand at "green thumbery".

I hope these few tips along with my other gardening focused blogs help you as you work on your summer fruits and flowers.

Home Grown Tomatoes and Chives

Happy Gardening !!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Coupon Care Package ~ Tip 15

I have blogged multiple times about my love of shopping, gifts, care packages, discounts, coupons and how to save a lil' money any where you can while still being thoughtful and creative . At times I feel like I am just repeating myself when I share these different ideas and stories . But I feel like each one is worth repeating if it helps even one person think out side the box, save a couple bucks , and be inspired in even the smallest way . So, I'd like to add this idea to the list .

It is yet again another friends birthday . One of my strongest love languages is "gifts".  I really adore putting thought into a gift and the ones that mean the most to me are rarely the ones that have high financial value . My motto, "it's the thought that counts, not the cost". As I started thinking about some small something to send to my friend I came across some coupons I had stashed on the kitchen table . One that had been attached to a store receipt was for a FREE large magnet with www.shutterfly.com . All that I had to do was pay for shipping . I knew instantly that this friend would love a super cute and personalized magnet . It would be something different & fun for her dorm room . I went through a few online pics and found the perfect one for her gift . After completing my order I waited with anticipation for the orange envelope to arrive in my mail box to see the finished project . IT WAS PERFECT AND DREAMY !!! I ended up using one of her super cute pics of her and her man for the magnet . I edited the pic through shutterfly to make it appear dreamy and hazy . The way we tend to see things when we are in love :-) I thought it might be a fun way for her to be reminded of the people who her love her the most . I also thought it would be a great inspiration to pray for her man every time she looked at it . Whatever she decides to use it for I'm sure she'll get giddy when she see's it .

I wanted to add something else to her gift, but was still scratching my head for something creative and budget friendly . I of course added some fun candy and a few notes in, but what else might be fun for her to receive . This may sound crazy, but the idea hit me COUPONS !!! Who wants coupons ? I know ?! To be honest, if they are awesome coupons.... I WOULD!!! No shame in my game . It's all about making a dollar stretch . Since my sweet friend is currently a student and working at a university I know that she really has to make her dollar go far . So, coupons are the perfect addition to her gift . I went through my normal couponing and cut a few extra things that I wouldn't use, but she might . Things such as a variety of shampoo's , razors , bug spray , cleaning supplies , yogurt , etc. Dorm student friendly items . I cut the coupons , then sorted them into categories and marked them with a fun note . Food - cause a girls gotta eat , Health & Beauty - because we don't just wake up looking this stunning , Dorm Living - cause it ain't easy makin' a meal from a microwave and mini-fridge , and my favorite DATE NIGHT !!!

The Date Night bundle of coupons had $10.00 off of a Build-a-Bear , $5.00 off of a meal at Outback, and several other yummy restaurant coupons that I know she'd enjoy . It might be cute to mix things up and for her to be the one that plans the date . I think build-a-bear and dinner sounds like a memory in the making !!!

So, while my budget doesn't allow me to get gift cards , expensive gifts , or even the opportunity to celebrate with my dear friends in person as often as I'd like , my creativity does ! I think that when she gets this envelope in the mail she will be super excited and feel loved by some one . It isn't the cost that counts, it's the thought !!

I hope this inspires you to get creative with your next gift giving ! Happy Couponing !!!