The One Thing I Won’t Stop Telling You

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“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

“The invitation here is simply to come to the throne of grace and receive what we need. Of course, it’s hard to receive anything before you are fresh out of amazing. If you don’t have a need, you won’t come. But when you are emptied, when you’re aware of all the places you’re lacking, when you’re weak and weary, you can more easily give yourself permission to come. And you need to come.

Aligning my life with this truth looks like the act of coming to God’s throne and receiving his grace. I need to plant myself front and center at the throne of grace and gaze upon Jesus. It is a habit I am slowly learning. I’m so grateful he is a gentle and patient teacher.” Fresh Out of Amazing

Time and time again when I have been weak and weary God has used his word to heal my heart. This was true that day I showed up to study the book of Hebrews for the first time years ago. It was certainly the case when I penned the  words in my book Fresh Out of Amazing.  There has not been one time in my life when I have honestly come seeking to be filled up that God has denied me. I think this is why I can’t stop telling women about my love for God’s Word. If you ever hear me speak or read anything else I’ve written you will probably come to a part much like this where I sound a bit like a broken record. It just matters that much.

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I will always do my level best to leave you with the encouragement to be a girl who sits at the feet of Jesus and receives his mercy through engaging with his powerful Word. I can’t stop, and I won’t stop. I spent years treating God’s Word as an accessory I carried to church or pulled it out to write a Bible verse on a note for a friend. Until I hit rock bottom and God used it to put the pieces of my heart back together I did not realize his Word was so much more than a crutch, it was a sword.

I want that for you, too. Let’s live like our lives depend on it. Because honestly, I think they really do.

xo,

Stacey

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The Book I Wasn’t Going to Write (Part 4)

So there I was, fresh out of amazing in many ways and I had no idea what turn my story would take next. I thought I was going to be thinking about what the book would be about. And then suddenly I was living it in the most devastating way. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from chapter 6 of Fresh Out of Amazing. This chapter called “When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Song in the Valley of Bitterness” really should have a warning label. Just so you know, I cried writing it. 
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“I hit send on my e-mail and saw that my phone was ringing. I say saw because my phone was still on silent from the night before. It was a small miracle that I saw it ring. I recognized my mom’s number and of course answered immediately. Admittedly, I was a bit surprised because we had spoken the day before for well over an hour. I had told her all about my trip to New York for a conference the previous week where Brooke and I had spoken on the topic of How to Have Hope Now. She was a proud mom and had added, as usual, that she had no idea how I write and speak. ‘You must get that from your dad,’ she’d said, and then went on to tell me he had had a pretty good weekend and now was at his third and final radiation treatment. My dad had heroically battled cancer on and of for five years.

‘Stacey Lynn?’ said the male voice on the phone.
Before I could respond, he said, ‘It’s your daddy.
‘He is gone.’ His voice choked out the words, but they were clear enough for me to know what he had said. Still, I said what you would expect me to say.

‘What?’
‘He passed this morning, honey. I’m so sorry.’

At this point a sound deep from within my soul escaped before I could contain it. I heard it. I felt it. I saw it. But I could not stop it. I jumped up and started pacing back and forth around my bedroom.

I set my phone down and continued to pace around the room. This became my before-and-after moment. Before the phone call I was making plans for shopping, pool sitting, and movie watching with my girls. After the call I was swimming in an ocean of grief in desperate need of something to grab on to.

The room was spinning. The combination of shock and grief laid me low, and I parked my shaking body on the floor against the wall next to my bed. I didn’t move for at least an hour. I’d had the wind knocked out of me once as a girl and woke up on the floor of my neighbor’s garage, struggling to breathe. Now, some forty years later, I was on the floor, knocked clean out, struggling to breathe, and trying to figure out what had happened. Being in the wilderness hurt deeply, and I had been caught off guard in every way.

As minister and writer Matthew Henry once said, “ Those whom God has mercy in store for he first brings into a wilderness.” I can tell you straight up that my plunge into the wilderness of grief did not feel like fresh mercy on day one or even on day seventeen. But God led me there, and it wasn’t to watch me bleed for nothing. He had a purpose in my pain. He always does.

This wilderness stripped me. I was humbled and dependent, crying out to God for my next breath. I had no choice but to beg him for it. During those early days of grief, nothing else held any hope whatsoever. What came out of my heart in those early days looked a whole lot like bitterness, and my gracious God absorbed every drop.”

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“The first morning back at home after the funeral, I grabbed my oversized cup of coffee and sank down deep into the red chair where I meet with Jesus every morning. Of course he was there waiting for me just as he always is. I had much to say to him, and I’m grateful that he graciously absorbed it all.

I told him in no uncertain terms that I was done, I had nothing left to give to anyone, I didn’t have any encouraging words to put on my blog or care about making a new book outline. I wanted to sit in that big chair forever and pull the blanket over my head. I wanted to quit life. I wanted to be bitter like Naomi. In many ways I was. I told my heavenly Father, ‘Lord, I’m fresh out of amazing in every way.’

Then, as if Jesus himself were sitting next to me in the red chair, I heard him say, ‘I know you feel fresh out of amazing, sweet girl. But do not fear. I do not waste anything you experience in your life. You are exactly where I want you. I am never out of amazing—and it’s time for you to see me big in your life.’

Tears streamed down my face, and I picked up my Bible. At the Spirit’s leading, I turned to a tiny book in the Old Testament called Habakkuk. It was time for me to begin the process of healing. It was slow in coming, but in the light of dawn on that April morning, healing quietly began. My own sweet and bitter experience of God’s providence was unfolding in a song.”

And so, there was a book I hadn’t planned on writing that now I needed in the worst way. But, the truth be told, I didn’t want to write it from this wilderness. Oh but Jesus. Slowly he began to heal my heart and over the next year showed me that sometimes your breaking point births a bigger story.

Fresh out of Amazing is is my story. But I think you might find your story there, too.

My hope is that it will encourage you to draw near to Jesus when you need him most.

I promise, he is waiting for you to do just that.

xo,

Stacey

You can pick up Fresh Out of Amazing wherever books or sold. To find out more, go here.

The Book I Wasn’t Going to Write is a 4 part series.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Are You a Renaissance Mom?

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I remember when it finally hit me that I had accidentally started working full time as a writer at home. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it all work. I’m still not sure. But somewhere I started writing like it was my job and in the midst of it I found a crazy schedule and a bit of my old soul as well. I’m grateful, truly I am that God had this in mind for me. A sweet mom at church asked me last week “Are you living the dream?” I smiled and said, “Yes, but honestly, I didn’t see it coming!”

Which is why I need encouragement like this…

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My friends Kelli and Wendy have written a stunning book called Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom with this in mind:

In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children’s parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes, and blogs filled with poetry and prose, it is clear that we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance. Not one born in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but rather in kitchens, nurseries, and living rooms around the world. Mothers, working in the cracks and crevices of each hectic day, are adorning the world with their gifts, and they’re showing all of us the beauty of this Life Creative.

They want you to know that the world needs your art, your creativity begins at home, and that  God had something special in mind for the creative woman during this intense season of mothering. We love them, right?

Today, they have asked me to share a little bit of my story and how I live a creative writing life in the midst of mothering four girls. I’m super honored to be their guest today!

Meet me over here…bring your coffee!

Grab their book today, right here. 

xo,

Stacey

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015

Wendy (mom of 3) is an actress who writes. Kelli (mom of 4) is a writer who sings.

P.S. I met Kelli at a DotMom conference a couple of years ago when we were roommates. You should know that I had *stalked* her on Twitter for a time and when I found out we were both headed to the conference I begged her to let me room with her. I bought her coffee every morning and I think after that she wasn’t too worried about me. Kelli introduced me to Wendy and last summer both of them stopped by my house with their kids. We had 11 kids under 15 in the pool and sharing pizza. It was awesome. I know you will love them just like I do!

 

 

The Book I Wasn’t Going to Write (Part 3)

If Monday’s post made you laugh then yesterday’s post might have surprised you. I was so buried in living a fresh out of amazing life I had no idea others were too. It took someone else to point it out to me. All along the way God was preparing my heart. And girls, he is always doing that.  

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Have you ever watched a bullet shot out of a gun in slow motion? Time lapsed video permits us to see the force of the bullet exploding from inside the barrel of the gun but everything else slows and fades into the background. You can see the bullet itself and you know intrinsically it is moving faster than you can think. The eye is fooled but the mind knows better. That bullet has somewhere to go and go fast. It can’t be stopped once the trigger is pulled.

This was precisely what my life felt like after I signed the contract with Harvest House. I returned home from my time with Brooke at Proverbs 31 and life shot ahead at break neck speed. It usually does for me anyway. I play catch up for days when I am away for a mere twenty-four hours. But this time it was even more pronounced, as if I was a runner taking her mark at the starting line. The gun fired and I was doing my best just to keep up.

Everyday life for a mother of four can be crazy full on normal days. But now I was trying to cram book writing into the nooks and crannies of my life. There was no beachside bungalow to escape to for dreamy writing days. I know I had heard that was the life of a writer before somewhere. I had no Stephen King mountain cabin of solitude to dream up words that would linger long after they were read by weary moms. A couple of Saturdays hiding in a booth at Panera would have to suffice.  I learned during this time that my calling as a writer was not mutually exclusive to my life as mom. They were intertwined and in many ways dependent on each other. One fed the other like some sort of beautifully chaotic symbiotic relationship and I was the one tasked with figuring out how to make sense of it all.

At the same time a dark cloud appeared just over the horizon. My dad, who had battled and beat cancer three times over the past five years, was not feeling well. I had seen it with my own eyes when he and my mom visited during Christmas break. He was brave, but I could tell something was not quite right.  A PET scan later proved our worst fears: his cancer had made a comeback and this time with a vengeance. I found out only days after I came home from my trip to Proverbs 31 my dad had a brain tumor that needed to be removed immediately. His life depended on it.

I flew to Indiana in the early morning hours of February 7th to be with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, and a whole bunch of other people in a hospital waiting room in downtown Indianapolis. My dad came through surgery beautifully. A few hours after surgery his first words were, “Coffee,” and he asked for a cheeseburger. He got both.

God stooped right down and heard our prayers. He gave us more grace than we could ask for. And we were so grateful. My dad still had a tough road ahead and we knew it full well. He looked at me on Saturday night before I left his room and said, “I love you. Tell Mike and the girls I love them too. I’m going to be fine. You get home to them. Now, how much was your plane ticket? I want to pay for it.” I smiled and said, “No, thank you, dad. I can take care of it. ” We snapped a photo with my big brother before I hugged and kissed dad gently. I said goodbye and slipped into the freezing Indiana night.

Nothing about that weekend was easy. First of all, when someone you love is hurting and in ICU you do a lot of sitting and thinking. Second of all, when you sit and think too much your mind tries to lead you down pathways filled with worry. Finally, it was -8 degrees outside and snowing. I could not get warm and I’m not sure if the shivers were from the temperature outside or the fear that snuck in my heart. I do know that when I got on the plane to come home I exhaled deeply and set my mind to the next thing on my list—helping my husband prepare for his business trip.

My husband left the country a few days after I came home from Indiana. He went to the Philippines for about two weeks for a conference. While he was gone I returned to life as mom and writing my book in the now fewer nooks and crannies of my life. I called my mom and dad as much as I could to check on his recovery. As can be expected he had good days and bad. But we kept praying and asking God for more miracles. Gratefully, our manuscript due date for Hope for the Weary Mom was extended by a week and when I put the finishing touches on my last chapter I was more than ready to send it on its way.

I had one more commitment on my schedule before I would melt into our planned and much needed Spring Break Vacation. Brooke and I were asked to speak at a conference in upstate New York for moms called Raising Generations. We would be sharing on “How to have HOPE Now.” We were nervous, excited, and I was tired. My heart grew about ten times bigger as we were able to share our stories of meeting Jesus in the messy parts of our lives and how he just keeps offering us hope. The women attending our session filled up the chairs, sat on the floor, and extended out the door into the hallway. Clearly, the message of hope was drawing women toward Christ.

The night before I left the conference, I was packing my bag for my early morning flight home. Brooke and I were replaying every sweet moment of our weekend and I told her I could not wait for Monday. I had big plans. I was going to rest, eat, and play with the girls. And then I was going to do all those things again on Tuesday.

I looked at Brooke and said, “I am truly feeling every bit of fresh out of amazing. Which reminds me—in April I’m going to think about that book.” She smiled and turned off the light. I snuck out of the door a few hours later and boarded my third flight in six weeks home to my family. I was poured out in every way.

It was Spring Break. And, man, did I need it more than ever.

(I’ll share more to the story next time.)

xo,

Stacey

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The Book I Wasn’t Going to Write (Part 2)

Did yesterday’s post make you smile? I know, you love me but come on, that was awkward and funny, right? Today, I want to tell you how God finally got my attention through this time at Proverbs 31 and gave me more than a nudge to write Fresh Out of Amazing. But remember, we there to talk about “Hope” and weary moms.

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“As we began to talk about Hope for the Weary Mom, Lysa opened her copy and began to read aloud. In mid-sentence, I realized she was reading something I wrote. In fact, it was the original blog post that launched “Hope” called Steve Jobs, Me, and Being Fresh Out of Amazing. She read these words:

“I’ve pretty much fallen short in every category. I am tired and not really good for much right now.  The trouble is, Lord, that I need to be amazing and I’m fresh out of amazing. At least it sure feels that way.”

Lysa closed her eyes and said, “Wow. That is so good. Fresh Out of Amazing is a book I want to read.” The sweat drops that had been collecting around my forehead while she read stopped dripping and Brooke shot me a knowing look. She said without words, “Girl, you have to write that book.” I smiled and said with my glance back, “Yeah, I know.” I then made a mental note: “Write the book, “Fresh Out of Amazing.” I had to do that because I didn’t have any plans at that time to write it. I didn’t even know it COULD be a book.

I had no idea when I wrote that simple blog post the power of that one sticky statement. God used Lysa that day to call out my story of being Fresh Out of Amazing. Sometimes the story is so close to our hearts that we don’t see it. When we live it every day, we need another pair of eyes to show us what sits just below the surface and how God can use it. Writing this book was not on my radar. I lived in the tension of needing to be amazing and feeling fresh out much of my life. I didn’t see that the phrase resonated with other women as well.  Especially a woman like Lysa, whom I greatly admired. She knows a thing or two about book writing and ministering to other women. You might say her words dug down deep and made a lasting impression. I am truly grateful for her encouragement.

I was surprised as well by the response of the other women at the table. As she finished reading, each woman nodded her head in agreement. They all concurred they would read that book and wouldn’t it be neat if we had coffee mugs with that statement on it? Or, even better we could wear t-shirts and tell the world we were all Fresh Out of Amazing. (By the way, I’m still trying to figure out how to make that happen.) It spoke to each woman regardless of stage of life, from one end of the table to the other. As I glanced around the room, I found myself in disbelief. I had no idea other women felt this way too. In fact, I was pretty sure I was the only girl feeling Fresh Out of Amazing. I was confident I was the only one who had ever written about it. Google is handy for things like that. Yes. I googled it, later of course. Here I was in good company and had no idea.

Isn’t that just like the enemy of our souls to convince us of such things?  The same one who first said to Eve, “Did God really say don’t eat from that tree…” also makes a habit of whispering in our ears, “You are the only one who feels this way. You better hide it for the rest of your life because if you tell others, they will think you are crazy.” His lies become the fuel for our fears. But the truth is, speaking such things actually gives women permission to nod their heads in agreement and say, “Me, too.”

The next day, January 17, 2014, Brooke and I signed a two book contract with Harvest House Publishers while sitting at Starbucks in Arsley Town, NC. We would be spending the better part of the next year writing the new “Hope” book and a companion devotional to go along with it. They would release within 11 months of each other so I was confident my time for writing anything else would be limited. Still, I looked ahead on my calendar and thought maybe I might squeeze in some time to think about it after the first book was turned in and before edits came back across my desk.

That meant the first time I would have to really think about Fresh Out of Amazing would be April 2014.  For now, I had 15,000 new words to add to my current manuscript.

And that is what I set out to do.

Join me later for the next part of the story.

xo,

Stacey

P.S. Do you know Compel also has a monthly writers program? Y’all, seriously it is the BEST. Check it out. They love to help women write words that matter.

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