Legos, Pillars and the Temple

When I was little I often preferred Legos to Barbies. That’s not to say that at some point there wasn’t a large box filled with chopped hair, markered face, scandalously naked dolls in my room (I tended to not like outfits on my Barbies, but did like to cut their hair thinking it’d grow back). But there was a large red bucket of Legos that I would avidly drag out more times than not. The reason being is that I loved to build things. To construct and design what I wanted, just the way I wanted it.

legosMy own community, created and orchestrated by my hand.

If I am honest, I haven’t changed much in that mentality from those days of playing with those Legos. I like community on my terms, even when it comes to those in the Christian faith, my very brothers and sisters in Christ. Yep, I’m admitting that frankly it’s alot easier to be with and listen to people who I choose. To not be challenged to love harder and think deeper, to sit in judgement rather than in the hurt and compassion of others. I like community on my times and in my orchestration.

And yet, that’s not how the body of faith is built. And it most certainly isn’t how I am called to be a part of it either.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

Ephesians 2:19-21 (ESV)

I am being fit into the building of His very holy temple. The imagery here points back to when the pillars were built on structures, and no seams were seen on how rocks were smoothed and sanded to fit, to mold into one specific structure with complete unity.

That means I am being fit in to the very structure that has laid the likes of Paul, John, and Esther alongside the ones I find difficult in the church, brothers and sisters I would “rather not” with. It means I am being sanded and smoothed down to fit in complete unity with them too. My roughness and scratchiness smoothed out to be in community in order to build a seamless temple for the Lord. His holy Church, the Bride He awaits.

And I really don’t like that idea because it butts up against my selfish nature, my comfort and my idea of control in what community is for me, for the church. And y’all it’s just plain ugly. To live in the comfort and security I have created and ordained as “good and right” rather than what He has defined as the Church. It humbles me to think of the selfish nature and my personal preference has taken the prime spot of life instead of listening intently for where I am supposed to be in the community of God.

It means disagreeing in love, it looks like uncomfortable silences and awkward reintroductions. It means giving forgiveness when I really just want to be self-righteous in my pride. Most of all, it looks like a seamless temple being built not out of my design but out of His.

The Beauty of Easter

Originally appeared on this site in 2016.

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The whispers of that morning.

They echo throughout eternity.

Their voice launches from trees, from the ground.

Shouts of adoration, praise and glory.

The birds give harmony to the shouts of joyful discovery.

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I stand with no words. I bow with nothing but myself.

Desiring to only be an echo of that same refrain.

Risen.

Alive.

With us.

Born out of love, handed over to suffer.

All for me.

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The morning after the rejoicing and exultation.

I carry the shouts still within me.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.

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All photos taken by and property of Sara Stacy. Permission to be used elsewhere is not allowed.

Women, Worship and My Comfort

I waited in the parking lot until the last possible minute before being late. I walked in and realized I did not look anything like the other people there.

Here’s the thing, looks are deceiving. They lie to us and give us false perceptions, assumptions based purely on what our eyes are confronted with, and not the truth of a heart and mind.

This past Sunday I had the absolute privilege to sit among a body of fellow believers in a small country church just south of where I live, mere minutes from my front door. I was greeted and welcomed with the most loving smiles and sentiments, handshakes and hugs (and y’all know I’m not a hugger). It was an outpouring of gladness to see someone there to worship the same God they do on that Sunday. The only difference to be seen? The color of skin. (and the fact I had chosen not to put panty hose on…a fact I am sure my grandmother in heaven had a fit about).

But what wasn’t seen was the heart. Can I tell you that my heart needed to be there Sunday? In a house of worship where people weren’t worried what it would look like to praise Him, to shout and lift hands high as the Spirit was felt among us. The word brought from a female on the platform was truly challenging and affirming, reminding me to look and discern with not only a Christ-centered mind but also the female perspective.

Because y’all, the woman at the well? That story we hear so often in the church…the script was flipped and put from her point of view, from the dangers of gossip to the Stranger who became the Changer of her heart and life. I mean, c’mon…that was a good Word given to her to then give to all of us. I appreciated so much the recognition of women in the congregation (me and my friend included) for their Women’s Day. As the service ended, person after person came up to greet us, talk with us, invite us to coffee in the fellowship hall right then.

It struck me as I left that my worries over the stares or whispers, were purely driven by  my own ego, my own self and the comfort I like to live in. What I was met with was the hands and feet of God’s children, my brothers and sisters in Christ happily asking me to join them in giving back praise to our God. When our eyes and hearts are on God, they aren’t on our environment, or our surroundings. They aren’t concerned with how we’ll look to others but how we are bringing the glory to God as is due.

It comes down to focusing on the state of our hearts than the state of how little others are thinking about us. When we right our heart and mind in Christ, we find that the opinions (or lack thereof) of others and ourselves seem to matter a whole lot less. And we find when we take our eyes off of others, we too draw nearer to God in worship, giving Him the attention and praise He deserves and not ourselves.

The Beauty of Easter

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The whispers of that morning.

They echo throughout eternity.

Their voice launches from trees, from the ground.

Shouts of adoration, praise and glory.

The birds give harmony to the shouts of joyful discovery.

IMG_4507.JPG

I stand with no words. I bow with nothing but myself.

Desiring to only be an echo of that same refrain.

Risen.

Alive.

With us.

Born out of love, handed over to suffer.

All for me.

IMG_4510.JPG

The morning after the rejoicing and exultation.

I carry the shouts still within me.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.

IMG_4504.JPG


All photos taken by and property of Sara Stacy. Permission to be used elsewhere is not allowed.

Are They Having Fun Without Me?

That question didn’t plague me until my mid-twenties. Never more did it haunt my thoughts than when I thought about all the other women in the singles ministry at my church.

You see for most of my life I preferred the company of boys. I grew up in a neighborhood full of them, and with a seven year age gap with my sister, I found the boys much more apt buddies. As life progressed for me throughout those awkward middle school (cause let’s just admit we are all awkward in middle school, okay?) and even through most of high school I migrated to being one of the guys. I could count on one hand the number of female friends I had, and down to one or two fingers the besties I would find in the female genre.

I just preferred guys. Things were easier, there was less drama, and they weren’t competing for attention at that point (at least not that I chose to see). Even into college I had two close female friends, and a multitude of male friends. Some of my closest friendships from college were with males, and it didn’t help matters that I was working and majoring in sports administration.

It wasn’t until several years later, as I settled into life as a young professional with a job and a home church that I began to crave that female friendship more. The desire was met by some amazing women in the singles ministry at the church I began to call home. Quickly I realized that all those years of being around the guys had not prepared me for the massive insecurity I felt among a group of women, in various age brackets and stages of life.

Nervously I tiptoed around the women to observe and marvel at how they navigated the large group dynamic, often squaring off to “call mine” on a single man within the ministry. I laughed at this in my naïve heart, not knowing that this is often the case in singles ministries as women are about a billion to 3 ratio to men. (*not scientifically proven, just from a multiple experiences y’all) There were nights though that I wondered if they were all off somewhere having fun without me. Simply because I wasn’t secure enough in my relationships with women to know any different or include myself in more conversations.

Anxiety would rise up as I sought to belong, “be in community” as they often preached from the stage, to know I had a place with these women. No where did fear, doubt and insecurity play a bigger and louder song on repeat than in those first months dipping into a ministry at a church. Admittedly this has happened since then as well, as I navigate visiting a new church, seeking out the home I wanted to call mine in a new city, desiring others who would welcome me and challenge me as that first group did many years ago.

Now I sit on the opposite side, desiring to create women’s ministry within my church as once again our ratio sits at about a billion to three males. I am one of a tight group of women who seek to serve and love others within our church because we are called and commanded to do so. My heart goes out to the new faces and new hearts that step through the doors each week, because I was once in those very cute heels myself. Wondering if I was being judged for what I had chosen to wear, worrying that women were saying “Oh great, another single female when there’s already a bajillion of us here”, or never being engaged in conversation simply because I am overlooked, because I blended.

I know those doubts and lies that our hearts want us to believe because our hearts are flesh. They deceive even on our best days. When our heart yearns for community, we will never feel more alone than in a room full of people. Our minds tell us that everyone else is having fun without us, and we weren’t meant to be in community. When in reality, we are all desiring after the ability to be known, by others and by God. We take those steps into church doors because of God’s whisper for us to be in community with one another, loving one another as we love Him.

So if that’s you…the one who believes fun is being had without you I challenge you to step out one foot more, lean in just a bit closer and cast aside the fear of remaining unknown. And if that’s you…the one who is already in ministry I challenge you to step out one foot more, lean in just a bit closer and cast aside the fear of rejection.

 

We are not having fun without you because we are without you in our midst.

The Rachels and Leahs of the World

It’s a tale as old as time it seems…(No, I am not talking about Beauty and the Beast here, at least not now)

The tension of relationships.

Two women find themselves attached to the same man. They do all they can to one-up each other simply to gain his love and devotion, to be the first in his life rather than play second fiddle. I am pretty sure multiple comedies and romances have been based off of this brief synopsis. I know I have been a part of that story in my own life and seen it rip apart friendships over the years.

As I sat reading about this, I could not help but think on the female relationships in the church. You see I was reading straight from Genesis…About real women, in the lineage of Christ, sisters themselves who were thrust into a situation where they desired nothing more than the attention and love of a man. A man who was forthcoming about his preference of one of the sisters over the other. And the resulting dysfunction of tension within the family which laid the foundation for continued disregard of family and sinful actions to perpetuate down their lines.

I wanted to shake Rachel and Leah. I wanted to comfort them both and yet I wanted to brush past their drama as well. But I just couldn’t.

Because it’s too prevalent even now in our midst as women. As the church.

We women are far too good at making it a competition rather than a cheering section when it comes to relationships, leadership and the church. When it comes to the area of singles, we do it simply because of numbers-there just aren’t as many single men in the church as there are women-so we start vying for attentions of the opposite sex to the detriment of our fellow women. I wish I could claim ignorance on this but unfortunately I have been on both the giving and receiving end of this tension over the years, where we find ways to “one-up” the other lady.

I have even seen this among the marrieds and families, with the wonder moms crowd vying for VBS status and church leadership praise. In our pursuit for goodness, we have found instead pride and ego-centered living. We have given up community for temporary attention. We have chosen ourselves over others.

As much as we like to point to the Israelites with their complaining in the desert, here we sit in the same petty arguments that plagued some of the very first families. The desires for our own good apart from God and His purpose, His call to community and love, to engaging the other ahead of ourselves, to servant filled lives instead of self-filled motives.

Maybe it starts with us ladies. Maybe, just maybe, we stop being the Rachels and Leahs in the walls of the church (or the home, or the workplace, or around the coffeshops) and instead we embrace the life of community, comradery and support. We share with one another instead of cutting one another down. We build up rather than seek to one up. Rather than see another woman as our competition we see her as our sister, our journey-woman, our friend.

Insignificance

I don’t know about you but there have been recent times where I have been sitting in the chairs at church listening to my pastor and felt like he knew every bit of what I was going through at that moment.

Has that happened to you?

No…so it’s just me? Okay then.

I have been in a season of insignificance. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until last week, when Aaron pointed the notion out. I was feeling small. I was feeling unimportant. I was feeling a whole lot of less than. It has to do with a multitude of things but it was present.

So I had accepted that I was just in this season, or maybe it would be a permanent state, I wasn’t very sure. To be very transparent here (and I do that alot) I had prayed on it but was of the “ye of little faith” crowd on it being a temporary state of insignificance. (Also I have misspelled that word every single time I have typed it thus far, you’re welcome)

However on Sunday, as I sat there truly with a heart that hasn’t felt prepared or in the Christmas spirit of rejoicing because I am weary this year, I heard one verse that changed my thoughts on insignificance. It shattered my thought train of despair and emotions that were slowly tearing me down. In Micah 5:2, nestled in the verse Aaron pointed out how Bethlehem is called out for being insignificant (that’s gotta sting). They were small among the nations BUT they would be used for an eternal purpose.

Those who are seemingly insignificant
are exactly the people God is drawn to,
the people He chooses and the ones He uses.” -Aaron Bryant

So it might feel like I am small, but God chooses the small, if they are willing, for great purpose. Think about Bethlehem, about Mary and Joseph, the shepherds who took the news of Christ’s birth. Every single one was deemed insignificant based on circumstances, location, or position. Yet God (and I love that in Scripture) chose to use them in an eternally significant way.

I know many are feeling small in this season of life, in this time of year. Here’s where I find my joy and hope on December 23rd, in that He draws me to Him, He chooses me for use in a way I have no logical reasoning on. I must be willing to accept it and lay aside feelings of less than in order to be used by the More Than in my life. I may feel insignificant but to God I am perfect for His work and purpose.


If you’d like to check out the entire message from Aaron Bryant at The Church at Avenue South, you can view it right here.