Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Why.

Last night, after a great night of dinner with my family.  Ryan and I sat down to watch TV. It was a beautiful summer evening here in West Sac, and as with most evenings the Delta Breeze was traveling throughout our house as we had all of the windows open.
Eli was asleep.
All was clam and quiet.

Well, sort of.
We live in a great neighborhood.
Full of life.
The joy of children laughing is heard regularly.
Last night, as we sat contented.

The silence broke.
While we sat in the living room,
the quiet of a peaceful evening was shattered with the crying of a toddler.
Jumping up, I ran to the hallway.
Thankfully, with my heart pounding I quickly realized that it wasn't Eli.
He was still safe, in his crib.
Dreaming peacefully.

My sudden relief changed as my heart dropped.
The crying was suddenly drowned out by shouting.
Loud shouting.
Cruel words.
Suddenly we heard the door next door slam, and that sweet baby was left to cry alone-- in the room directly across from our office window.
While the fight continued in other areas of the house.

I don't know much about the family next door.
Honestly, Ryan and I have been tied up in our own whirlwind to really reach out.
I know that there is a grandma.
And a sweet toddler girl.
There seems to be a mom and a dad.
Maybe a uncle or two.
Its a busy home.
And besides the grandma and the baby, we aren't really sure who lives there.

Last night, while Eli sleep in his room
and the baby next door continued to cry over the now faint angry voices.
My tears welled.

In the many moments that followed,
I sat on the couch praying.
My heart was broken.
Broken for the baby who needed comfort.
Broken for a family, broken.

In those moments, for that night I wanted nothing more then to offer that little girl arms of safety.
I wanted to crawl through the window and rescue her.
I wanted to knock on the door, and offer a safe harbor for the baby while they duked it out.
I wanted to give that sweet little girl a quiet, peaceful night.
With sweet dreams.

I wanted to shelter her.
I wanted shelter for her.

I couldn't.
All I could do, was pray.
I prayed that God's arms would comfort her to sleep.
That she would feel love like no other.
That her ears would not hear the words being yelled, and that she would hear the gentle voice of a loving Father rocking her to sleep.

After about ten minutes. It got quiet in her room.
The faint voices in the background continued.
I assume she had fallen asleep.

I went to bed last night with a heavy heart.
Sadly, I don't know her name.
I wish I did.
Soon, I will.

God has given us this time.
He's placed us in this place.
We have said numerous times that we don't know the WHY's or WHAT for's yet.

For a few weeks I have felt a bit like that little girl.

Needing comfort.
In all that's happened, God has been there.
His peace has filled out home.
His love has been present.
He's here.
And last night, He was there with that precious baby.

Last night, I felt my first task at hand.
Perhaps the first WHY and What for.
Our neighbors.
To love this family.
To show love to this family.
To let them know we are here.
To be an extension of the gentle hand of God to them.

Is it grand?
Maybe not.
Is it the end result?
Probably not.
Is it necessary?
People all around us need love everyday.
People need to know there is hope, comfort and peace in this broken world.

Psalm 34:18 (The Message) 
If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; 
 if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath.

May a wave of peace and hope start from our home, and reach out to those around us.

1 Peter 4

(7-11)Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
The Message Translation.

Thank you Ashley for the reminder.  Love you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rumor has it....

No, I'm not Jennifer Anniston, nor is the rumor that Kevin Costner is my father.

Apparently the rumor is that Ryan and I are "disenfranchised" with church.  This, being the reason why we resigned.  That we no longer enjoy the church atmosphere and are done with being in ministry.

Can I just say, on the record....NO!

Not even close.

My stomach has been turning since I heard this "rumor."

I know that people are going to say what they think, no matter what they've been told.

But it is disappointing when Ryan and I tried very hard to over-communicate why we are making these life changes.

So, for the sake of the rumor.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....why would we move to an new area of town to pursue a new church here.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church...why are we still tithing.

IF we are disenfranchised with ministry....why are we currently  part of starting and building new ministries.  Two to be specific.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....why are we attending eagerly as a family on Sundays?

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....why are we waiting for the perfect job, so that we can continue to be available for what God wants of us next.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....don't you think EVERYONE would know that?

But, We're not.

Ryan and I left the ministry we were part of to open ourselves up to DO whatever God wants of us next.  We felt our time there was over and God wants us for something else.
Do we know what yet?  No.
But that in no way means we are upset, mad, sick of, or tired of "the church."
Disenfranchised? Not at all.
Ryan and I are still very much involved in the church in general.
To clear any questions, we have been attending multiple churches with family and friends to explore various ministry types and get a better grasp on where we fit.
We still very much believe in and support the ministry of The River Church.

Change is inevitable in everybody's lives.
Change is happening in our lives.
The transition has been difficult.
Rumors, like this...don't really help.
BUT they do make us continually focus on who we are, and what we are doing all of this for.
Not for others, but for God.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It's been a rough week here in the Stevenson home.
And while I'm I pretty sure you are thinking to yourself, "Again?"
My response is truthfully, "Yes. Again."

While I will happily note that  LAST week we had a wonderful week together.
A vacation!
Much needed getaway!
A perfect retreat and IT truly was a great week.
But, I will share much more on this later.

This week though...well, it's been trying.
Ryan and I have felt the blows from every angle.
While trying so hard not to focus on the negative,
we feel as though Satan is trying so very hard to bring us down.
It like he's coming from any venue he can just to get us down, to crush our momentum.
Needless to say, THIS place is NOT his.
We have drawn a line.
We have committed to staying up.
Ryan and I are choosing to focus on having hearts of gratitude, and with that NOT let our attitudes take us down.

We truly have so much to be thankful for.
So much that God has given us, giving us, and/or has intentionally put in our lives to remind us HE is here.
Right where HE promised us HE would be.
This is HIS place, and this time belongs to HIM.
No matter what may come our way, HE loves us.
Therefore, we are choosing to see the good.
To focus on the positive.
To put our hope in HIM alone.
Ryan and I are not going to let the bad overcome, but instead really try to recognize the blessings.
Even when they are hard to see, Where GOD is - good is.
These are the gifts of life.
God's gifts to us to remind us HE is with us, no matter what.

Tonight, here are some of our blessings,
counting them one by one....

#1--- What I just said.
GOD is with us.
HE loves us.
HE is here.

#2 WE have eachother.
We have a beautiful and spunky son who is the greatest blessing both of us have EVER received.
Ryan and I are devoted to each other and happily have a strong marriage.
We have love.
Lots and lots of love.
We have Eli's laugh, that makes us laugh, that fills these walls of our home with Joy.
WE have a circle of three that can't be broken.

#3 We have a great home.
It's truly becoming home more and more each day.

#4 Family.
Our families support, encouragement, and unconditional love has given us so much hope in this process.
They are a tangible rock right now.
They are our biggest fans.
Because of them, we know we CAN do this.

#5 Friends and People to who believe in us.
This week we have been loved on multiple occasions tangibly through gifts, and by words.
Thank you to those who have reached out and encouraged us,
spent time with us,
and even given us a DVD player.
Thank you, for you were are sincerely grateful!

#6 A vacation.
Family to let us stay with them for free.
Craigslist, for CHEAP (and ok, maybe sketchy) tickets to Disneyland so we could share my favorite place with my favorite little guy.
The many beautiful beaches in California--they too are free, and always host a perfect day.
Fellow pastors to build and invest in Ryan.
Friends to laugh with.
Time to reconnect with far-away family members, and once again feel their embrace.
A drive to San Diego and back to talk to each other, to dream together, to build each other up.
A loving brother who watched our dogs and house so we could go, for free.  Thanks Mike.

#7 Savings.
At least we have some.

#8 Diapers and Wipes and Food on the table.
We are not at all going without.

#9 Cars that are working.
Even if just for the moment. :)

#10 A yard to find relaxation in.

#10.5 A park across the street to play in.

#11  The potential of a job (for Ryan)

#12  Interviews for that job.

#13  Exciting news from the lives of our friends.
 It faithfully brings our spirits up.
Babies on the way.
Miracles in Four.
New additions.
Life being lived abundantly.

#14 My work computer.
Thank you to Aimee for letting me use it over the summer.
It is our current "working" computer.

#15 My job
It is our current source of revenue :)

#16 Water- we don't thirst.  Electricity - We can see and are cool.  Gas- We can cook.

#17 Landscapers.
Our rent includes landscapers, on a day like today I am glad that WE don't have to worry about the upkeep of the yard.

#18  Phones - we can keep in touch with those who love and build us up.

#19 Nationstar Bank.
Approving the offer on our "old" home.
Reducing our promissory note.
Working hard to get everything finalized and closed by the end of this month as per the buyers request.

#20  You
For giving me the reason to make this list.
To help me chose gratitude.

#21 This day.
A positive interview for Ryan.
A fun gift find for my best friends little babies on the way.
A visit from my brother.
The hour this afternoon with Eli at the park.
Me and Him, together.
Laughing, playing. Enjoying the moments.
Dinner together.
Eli drinking milk from a cup, and not from a bottle.
Time to write.

This list can go on and on.
And while some  of these things may seem silly, right now - in this moment they are things I am thankful for.  They are the things that come to mind.  Am I reaching a bit, grasping for anything--yes! Everything!

We are truly in the midst of the storm.
But instead of focusing on the wind, and darkness....
I chose to recognize the refreshing rain.
The gifts.
Even in the toughest times.
Our cups overflow.