“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Mark 8:34-37 MSG
Scripture taken from my last blog post on February 23.
I was in a worship service at church when my husband’s heart stopped during a business meeting across town. On February 23, Mike was rushed to the hospital while I was singing Agnus Dei.
Holy. Holy. Are you Lord God, almighty.
Worthy is the lamb.
Worthy is the lamb.
When I finally got to him and understood the gravity of the situation, my heart stopped, too. But in an entirely different way. I went numb—the physical shaking ever present. Breathing became my focus. And my world became very small.
Drink a cup of water.
Call the girls.
I didn’t run from suffering because I couldn’t move. But I wasn’t exactly embracing it either. Oh, I knew suffering. We had been around the block more than a few times. I wasn’t walking bravely on oceans this time. I was weeping in the desert.
“But once she has nothing, I’ll be able to get through to her.
I’ll entice her and lead her out into the wilderness where we can be alone,
and I’ll speak right to her heart and try to win her back.
And then I’ll give her back her vineyards;
I’ll turn the valley of Achor, that “Valley of Trouble,”
into a gateway of hope.”
Familiar ground. This desert, I’m learning is where the redeemed learn to walk. (Isaiah 35:9). I have spent more days here than I care to count. I haven’t chosen to walk here. But over and over again it has become the path beneath my feet. This time I wasn’t sure I was actually going to walk at all, let alone find the gateway of hope. How can you walk when you can’t move or feel your own feet beneath you?
Instead, I found myself thinking about Naomi. I wonder if the first hard thing rocked her. Did she grasp for God in the midst of the famine? Was she uncomfortable enough to need him and only him?
What about after she was made a widow? Her famine became personal, now. Did she still have a shred of hope?
But then, she lost both sons. Her undoing nearly complete if not total. For a woman her famine was now of the severest kind. Was anything left of her?
It was severe enough that she changed her name.
“Naomi: Do not call me Naomi ever again, for I am no longer pleasant.
Call me Mara instead, for I am filled with bitterness
because the Highest One has treated me bitterly.” Ruth 1:19
And somehow in the cold hard chair of the ICU waiting room I got it. Stripped bare and waiting. Again. I understood her in a way that scares me to tell you. I saw her in my own heart. My undoing, now severe and complete as well.
In those first critical days I could not see through it. I tried to find faith eyes but all I saw was darkness. A veil of sorts pulled over my eyes. Wiser women told me I wasn’t supposed to see through it. They were right.
- I like Ruth.
- I’m Ruth most days.
- I encourage. I pray.
- I cheer for those in my life wildly.
- I’ve been Ruth for my husband and my girls.
- I’ve prayed like crazy for others also going through fire-testing faith purifying times.
But now, I couldn’t find an ounce of Ruth anywhere. Funny how I’ve written about Naomi’s story before and I thought I knew. I thought I got it. But this time, she swung back into my life to sit with me in my own pit in the fiercest way.
I will tell you God was “plotting for his glory” (Piper) even while I was falling into the pit headlong. Just like he did for Naomi, He caught me. He didn’t leave me. The same God who gently led her home during the harvest was leading me. He also provided Ruth—too many to count and name.
She sat with me.
She prayed over me in person and on millions of messages.
She handed me lattes.
She cared for my girls.
She sent me gift cards.
Over and over again.
I was not alone, not once.
God was near and so were his people.
God has done an absolute miracle in our lives. My husband is home. Did you hear that? He is home. Almost 8 weeks have passed since I stood singing Holy are you Lord God. God has been merciful. After one month in the hospital and another month at home Mike is healing slowly. I am too.
But I am not the same. Part of me has died. That is probably the point. In fact, I’m sure of it.
The other part that scares me to death is I’m not sure who I’ll be when this is all over. Maybe you won’t want to be here. That scares me too. Slowly, I’m unwrapping grave clothes of my own making and I’m praying like crazy when it is all said and done you see more of Jesus than ever.
There is more to the story. It is truly unbelievable and at times we think maybe it happened to someone else. It may come out here, it may come out other places or maybe it will stay tucked in secret places for later days. I simply do not know. But know that this girl, who desperately wants to be Ruth is climbing out of the pit with both hands holding tightly to Jesus.
There is no other way.
Worthy is the lamb.
P.S. If you have been praying and supporting our family thank you so much. We are grateful beyond words. Keep praying!
Thank you for your authenticity! It makes me want to follow your blog even more than before.
We all want to be Ruth, but I think most of us find ourselves in Naomi’s shoes more often. Makes me wonder if we missed the point of the story of Ruth and that it’s not just a story about a strong woman. Maybe its meant to be just as much about a broken woman that God chose to love and care for when she had nothing to give back.
Thank you, Stacey.
Beautiful words spoken by a precious lady. I have been praying for you since you first posted. How wonderful to see his photo in church yesterday. Made my heart happy. Hang on, Stacy…God is in this. So many love you and are praying. I am praying.
Praying for your family. Thank you for sharing your story and giving hope to all of us!!
I am reminded of the song…
Your glory is so beautiful
I fall onto my knees in awe
The heartbeat of my life
Is to worship in your light
Your glory is so beautiful
And my life is Yours
And my hope is in You only
And my heart You hold
‘Cause You made this sinner holy
Glory Glory Hallelujah
Jesus you are good
Thank you for sharing part of your story. Thank you for being real and open. Your honesty is like a breath of fresh air. God’s story is a beautiful one.
You are so loved.
Stacey, this is beautiful. Our deserts are different, but I can relate to everything that you have written here. And yes, I think the point is that we die, and we die again and again. Because it’s only through death that we truly get to experience life. Getting to the other side? Yeah, that can be scary. I’m a different person than I was five years ago and sometimes I look back and think “who would I be if (insert circumstance) hadn’t happened?” Maybe I wouldn’t struggle with the sinful effects of grief, but I also wouldn’t know and love Jesus in the way that I do. Thank you for sharing your heart. May Jesus continue to be tenderly powerful as you stand fast and endure through the strength of the Spirit.
I have had times in my life where I screamed internally I am no longer NAOMI! It’s a hard journey to become our own versions of Ruth. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Beautifully written. Once again I am speechless, but your words have settled upon my heart and mind. Continuing to pray for you, dear friend. I am so sorry this journey is painfully hard, but so thankful that he is restoring you and forming you into his Son’s image. You are teaching me what it truly looks like to surrender everything to Him.
All I can say is how awesome is our God!!!!!! We have been praying since we found out here in Ohio. People look for miracles every day not really noticing them, because they are there. Whether it is providing a way for my girls to get their homework finished in the midst of our just finished 3 week revival or bringing Mike back home to his family. Praise the Lord!!!! So thankful for the continued updates and will continue to pray and rejoice with each success he has.
Thank you for writing this!!! We feel this way and don’t express because we hold it in. We are praying always for you all.
Tears are collecting in my eyes, Stacey. Thankful to hear that Mike is home and healing. I’ll keep praying.
I’m thankful for your words and your heart. I’m thankful you let God use your journey not only to mold you, but to lead others. You are strong and amazing no matter what because you are His. ❤ You are loved and prayed for in the Dial house!
My heart meets your’s in dark places that want to envelope us, ceasing our very breath.
It is then, then, that we pray for one another when we have briefly and momentarily forgotten how. When those prayers are like stale yeast, that’s when we pray for one another.
I have. Others have. I continue. Others continue.
You may float on our prayers for as long as it takes.
We are with you, lifting you and your’s with wild abandon to the One.
….and He hears….
I’m praying for you daily. And as tightly as you’re holding to Jesus, He’s holding even more tightly to you. But I know you know that. Keep climbing, friend.
Ohhhh, Stacey!!!! THANK YOU sooooo much for sharing…love and prayers Sweet Friend!!!! ❤❤❤
I’ve followed your story after mutual friends first posted. And prayed for you, your husband and family. I’m so grateful God is healing. The chiseling God does through the hardest circumstances is painful but so good, if we will let him work. I’m so glad to see this update! God is faithful.
Thank you so much for being real!
So we’ll put!! We pray often for your family thank you so much for your honesty
Continuing to pray for and with your family, Stacey. Thank you for letting us come alongside you. Because you are faithfully, humanly, vulnerably walking with Jesus when we walk beside you we can’t help but walk closer to Him too.
I am another who has been praying since someone posted on Feb. 23. I’ll keep praying. Your updates (each one) have touched my heart in ways I never expected. But THIS ONE made my heart sing and covered me with “GOD BUMPS”!
I have been in the desert many times but never knew to remember it that way. It’s all beginning to make more sense! I’m not the same woman I was when my life started changing six years ago. And I still haven’t found the REAL ME. But I’m still climbing holding onto Jesus with a strangulation grip! Hahaha! (The way you phrased it made me immediately SEE an image of this)!
I will keep praying for you and yours and looking for any word from you everywhere you might post! ?.
God uses your posts to mold me, comfort me, chastise me, or simply hold me VERY OFTEN. I love you, Sister. (((HUG)))