Monday, December 23, 2013

Goodbye Billy Vanilly

5 years. One job. That says a lot. Right!? ;) I can't believe how quickly time flies. Where do I even begin??

My job has been a God thing from the very beginning. After I graduated high school in 2008 I went to Mexico for a semester. After coming back it was time to start college and find a new job. I wanted something in the baking field as I had hopes to one day open my own bakery. So I looked up bakeries in Topeka. I found one that had a website. Daddy Cakes. I looked it up. Suuuper intimidating. They had pictures of beautiful cupcakes and cakes on their website. I thought 'there's no way I could make that!'

Yet I strongly felt God telling me to apply. So I emailed the store to ask if they were hiring. The owner replied and we set up an interview. I had the hardest time finding the store when I went in. I finally found it and after my interview I still wasn't sure. It wouldn't provide me with enough hours. Yet I strongly felt God telling me to accept the position. He would take care of me. Thus began my career at Daddy Cakes.

Daddy Cakes
I started out working in retail and quickly worked my way up to a position in the kitchen. Three months after I started my boss took her daughter to France so I was in charge of the kitchen. It was safe to say that I was trusted. :) The store business was rapidly expanding and we moved to a bigger store across the street. I became the kitchen manager with the new store. It was a great experience of learning how to work and manage in the kitchen. I enjoyed it! Plus I earned more money and worked lots more hours than when I started. God was taking care of me.  Along the way the store changed from Daddy Cakes to Billy Vanilly Cupcakes.

I took a break for a season when I moved to Colorado. When I came back I didn't think I would return to Billy Vanilly. However God saw differently and I went back to work at Billy Vanilly. Instead of returning to the kitchen however I began working again in retail, as the manager, and took a position as the office manager as well. It was once again great and I was learning more and more about running a store. Plus I got another raise to help balance out the fact that I was working less hours because I began attending school again. God was taking care of me.

Ariel's Cupcake Deco Party
It was a good year and a half back at Billy Vanilly Cupcakes. I believe that God wanted me there. However, this season is now over. A few weeks ago I talked to my dear boss and told her that I was done working for her and for Billy Vanilly. All in good timing. My season is just over. I don't know what I am doing next, but I know it is time for something new. God has a new job for me. I am taking about a month off to just relax, enjoy the holidays, rest, and seek out what God has for me. I am stoked!! Seriously. It was incredibly hard for me but now I am honestly excited. I can't wait to tell you where God takes me next.
Working with a dear friend!!

  * I remember the day I walked into Daddy Cakes for the first time for my interview. It took me half an hour to find the place.
  * I remember working in a tiny store with a clock tower above it. There was only room for two or three customers at a time yet we often had lines out the door on a Saturday morning.
  * I remember moving into a new store. It was HUGE!!
  * I remember when the name changed to Billy Vanilly Cupcakes.
  * I remember actually having to start wearing a uniform. Tough transition. Seriously. ;)
  * I remember working countless Valentines Days with nonstop craziness. It's the busiest day of the year!!
  * I remember all of the fun conversations I had with my boss. She calls me boss and I call her boss. We have an unconventional relationship. ;)
  * I remember baking countless cupcakes...I remember the first time I baked over 100 cupcakes at a time!
  * I remember moving into a position where I got to interview people and choose who to hire. Fun job!
  * I remember making daily bank deposits and new friends at the bank! ;)
My boss and I! ;)
  * I remember hosting several music nights at Billy Vanilly....the store was full of people and it fulfilled a dream of mine!
  * I remember working with one of my best friends. They say it isn't good to live with your friends...or work with them...yet we only grew closer through all of that. and we had SUCH fun times working together. laughing together. dropping things. laughing together.
  * I remember working up front and realizing how often certain people come in. We truly have weekly, sometimes daily, customers.
  * I remember answering all of the silly which cupcake is the red velvet one. (It's red!)
  * I remember all of the fantastic people I have worked with over the years. They've become my friends.

I am soooo grateful for the opportunity to have worked at Billy Vanilly Cupcakes these last five years. I don't regret it for a moment. However, it is time once and for all to say Goodbye Billy Vanilly!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cliff Jumping

   Ohhh goodness. Life is so wonderful. So crazy. So unexpected. So fun. Full of twists and turns. Last week I did something crazy. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision by any means. Yet, for me it was crazy. Kind of like jumping off of a cliff.

   I have been working at Billy Vanilly Cupcakes for 5 years come January. It has been a joyous 5 years. I was confident that I was supposed to work there. From the beginning. When I moved to Colorado for DLA I was confident that I would not return to Billy Vanilly. God had other plans. I have been back for over a year and I knew once again that that was where God wanted me. Since the middle of the summer however I began to sense that my time there was drawing to a close. I would pray and ask God if it was time and He kept saying 'not yet'. Recently I finally felt that God was telling me that it was time. I spent MUCH time in prayer before I did anything about it.

  A week ago I talked to my boss and told her that I would be quitting at the end of the year. That in itself isn't that crazy. However, I have NO idea what I am doing next. I just really feel God leading me into a season of 100% completely trusting and relying on Him to provide for me. To give me new direction. I'm not sure where I am headed, but I want to make sure I am pointed in the right direction. Before I can take another step I have to stop and listen. This being said, I don't have another job that I am moving into. I'm not supposed to.

  My security blanket is Jesus. Not a job. Not the number in my bank. It's God. I am jumping off a cliff into the great unknown. However, I am confident that that great unknown is not land that I am smacking into. It is as ocean. Of God's goodness. His provision. Faithfulness. His plan for my life. I jumped. Now I can't wait to see what washes over me. I have SUCH a peace inside right now. I know without a doubt that this is what I am supposed to do. I look forward to sharing with you what exactly God has in store for me. I am not sure what it is. I do know this. It is good. I am CONFIDENT of that. ;)
2014 is going to be a GOOD year!

Let's go headed down the open road unknown....
And we find what we're made of
through the open door
Is it fear you're afraid of?
What are you waiting for?!
Love alone is worth the fight!!!!
- Switchfoot

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Gift!

   I am back! With more to add to the story. :)

   I have this desire to finish college and earn a Bachelor's degree. I'm not 100% sure what I am going to do with it, but I really want to finish. I also have this desire to finish debt free. I like to pay as I go! That being said it is a slow process. Another thing, I have had the same car since I was a senior in high school and it is getting kind of old. I was really wanting/needing a more reliable car. A Honda to be specific - that's what I wanted, not needed. So I began saving money for a new car and for school and for other life expenses. It was getting tough while going to school because I am not able to work full-time. So I told God my desires and asked Him for help because I didn't know how this was all going to work. I was barely getting by to have enough for school AND books and life. I cut back on hours at work to take more classes. Ouch. Not helping. Yet I specifically heard God tell me that He wanted to show me how He provides. I needed to just trust Him. Little did I know what He had up His sleeve..... ;)

  Oh friends, God is so abundant. Far more than I could ever hope or dream. I just can't stop smiling when I think about what He did, and continues to do.

   I have a very dear friend that I met in Colorado. Her name is Rachelle and she is such a blessing. We were going through a similar season in our lives and connected one night over frozen yogurt. After that evening I knew we would be friends for a long time. When I returned to Kansas after DLA she remained for a second year yet we were still able to connect via phone dates & Skype.

   One day while on the phone Rachelle began to tell me a story. She was planning on spending this season right now at YWAM. Her original plan had been to sell her car to be able to afford YWAM. However, God had other plans for her. She began to sense that He wanted to stretch her and soon He asked her to give up something HUGE. Her car. Rachelle felt that God was wanting her to give her car away and trust Him to provide her with the money she needed for YWAM. Craziness! She told God that she would be willing, if He made it abundantly clear to her. She asked for three signs and three signs she got. My favorite is the last. The seat adjustor on her car has been broken so that she could not move her driver's seat back and forth. It remained in one position. Luckily for her she is taller and the height worked out well. If she gave her car to someone who was shorter it might be an issue. One day she was driving her car and something got caught on the seat adjustor. As she untangled it, the seat adjustor loosened and the seat once again was able to move back and forth.

  You might wonder why I mentioned this last sign. Well, while praying for the strength to make this decision, Rachelle was also praying for direction as to who she was supposed to give her car to. My name kept popping up. With that last sign about the seat adjustor once again working she immediately knew that the car wasn't her car anymore. Last summer Rachelle bravely allowed me to borrow her car to drive home for my dear friend Meghann's wedding. It was in the middle of the summer and my little red car does not have air conditioning. 8 hours is a loooong time to drive without air. In Kansas. I had the wonderful privilege of driving her car that trip. Because of the broken seat adjustor I actually had to put a pillow behind me so that I could reach the pedals without stretching. ;)

   Anywhoo, when the seat adjustor started working again Rachelle knew it was no longer her car anymore. It was my car. So one day she called me up and asked me if I would be interested in receiving this incredible gift. No strings attached. There was more to the story that happened before, but ultimately she blessed me with her car. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!!! I do not adequately have the words to express my gratitude to Rachelle. I know this though, Jesus is going to bless her abundantly more than I ever could for her huge leap of faith. I am excited to hear the ways He does so!

  There are so many amazing things about this gift. This car is in much better condition than my Cavalier so it is essentially the new car I have been saving and praying for. This car is a Honda, which is precisely what I had been saving for. This car has air conditioning. I never had air conditioning in my other car. The day that Rachelle offered me the car was the very day that my red car would not start, for the third time this year. Before the phone call I felt peace even though my car wouldn't start. After the phone call I knew why. ;) This car was free, therefore I am still able to say that I am debt free. My worries about struggling financially with a car and school to worry about have been alleviated. God has provided for me, in one of the craziest ways possible. Now I am able to tell our story to so many people and see how God uses the story in their lives. I firmly believe that this is only the beginning. For both of us.

  Every time I walk out to my car I am reminded of God's faithfulness. His provision. His abundance. The way He lavishes His love on me in ways that I cannot even imagine. I did nothing to deserve this car. Believe me, I made lists about whether or not I deserved  it and He wiped them all away. This car was a gift. An incredible one. Because Jesus loves me. He is taking care of me. He is blessing me.

  He wants to do the same for you. Will you let Him?

 I wanted to share this link with you. If God lays it on your heart to help support Rachelle as she takes part in YWAM, here is how you do so: Support Rachelle.

Monday, November 11, 2013

He Knows Me... ;)

  Sometimes life is so painful you can barely breathe. Sometimes life is just simply okay. Sometimes life is so wonderful you can't keep all of that joy inside. Sometimes...there are plenty of other emotions. ;)
  Over the last year I have had some incredible things happen to me. Some rough things too. But right now I want to reflect on the abundance of God. I have some pretty crazy thoughts. I dream REALLY BIG dreams. I have a Dream Big book for goodness sake. ;) I'm pretty positive that the reason I have been able to have so many incredible experiences over my lifetime is because I ask. I ask God to expand my horizons. To take me where I haven't gone before. To challenge me. Ohhhhh boy has HE!!! According to Webster's New World Dictionary abundance - means more than enough. Yep. That is most definitely a word I would use to describe Him.
We Matched!!
  When I moved back to Topeka I had my requests for God. One of them was that I wanted to move out of my parent's house. It has nothing to do with them. I LOVE my parents both so much and I am extremely blessed to call them my parent's. I just have an independent streak in me and wanted to pay for my living expenses and such, ha! I was having a hard time finding someone to live didn't help that I am rather selective about who I live with. :)
   Anywhoo, a few years back my brother had asked me if I wanted to move in with him. At the time I couldn't. About a month after being back home I remembered my brother's offer from before and wondered what he would think about that now. I prayed on it a bit and asked God to give me wisdom and move my brother that direction if that's what He wanted. Right about this same time I had lunch with my brother and he brought it up again! Oh how cool is Jesus!? Now I live with my brother & his daughter and I love it soooo much! My brother is a bit older than me so I don't feel like we really lived together that long when we were younger & now God has given us this awesome opportunity. It is really so much better than I could have dreamed up. God is using my brother in my life to teach me some things and hopefully the same is true for him. :) Plus, I have this awesome 'loft' that I call my room. God really REALLY is abundant! I love my brother and my niece so much & we have such fun together. Painting pumpkins. Going to concerts. Watching movies. Eating at Pizza Pub. Talking about what God is doing in our lives. Talking in silly accents. Watching Duck Dynasty. God is just really really great!!
   On to the next thing....
   Whoops. I think I am going to split this into two parts so I don't lose you. Check back later to see the next part of the story!!!!!!!!!!! Hope you don't mind. ;)

   The moral of this story is this: God knows me. He knows what my desires are and He knows how exactly to bless me. Beyond what I dream up. Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


 Help! If you are anything like me, this is a very difficult thing to ask of others. Being a rather independent person I pride myself in being able to do things on my own. (Whoops, problem right there. pride). On not asking for help. However I am learning that this really isn't the best way to live life. God designed us for community. We have a family and friends for a reason. If we do not support one another, what are we doing?
  So when you are used to being stubborn and independent it hurts to be broken. It's a rather slow process. Very difficult. These last few months have been a season of me learning to say that one word. HELP! In the easy and the difficult....asking for directions from a friend...asking different men to carry things for me that I didn't have the strength to carry....asking a teacher to help me understand something further...asking for rides when my car was broken...asking for prayer with my struggles....asking Jesus to give me the strength to remain silent when I want to many different areas.
  I've been learning something in this. One - it is extremely important to rely on others. on Jesus. We can't make it through life alone. It would be truly miserable without friends. Without family.  
  Two - this is for all you single ladies out there... ;)
   For those of you who have been single for a long time I know the struggle to try to do things on your own. To learn to be comfortable alone. To try and prove to others that you are fine on your own. This can be a safety net that people set up to protect themselves. If you don't need others, they can't hurt you. bahhh...this is silly thinking.
    One time when I was thinking about my independence I distinctly heard Jesus whisper a hard truth to me. He said "Stefanie, if you can not allow other people (especially men) to help you right now you will not know how to accept help from your husband. If you are truly preparing for marriage then this needs to change." Ouch. I needed to hear that. Stubborn pride needs to go. Accepting help is a great thing. I'm loving asking people for help actually. It's good for me. It's good for you. When you have the right balance! So, for any single ladies out there, or really anyone struggling with this help thing, please allow other people in your life to help you. Stubbornness is not an attractive quality. Pride is ugly. It needs to go! We need to learn to find that balance of interdependence. People are a wonderful gift from God. Friends. Family. Strangers even. God can use anybody!!! :) So, if you struggle with asking for help, just take it little by little.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fighting Against Success

   I turned 23. Two weeks ago now. Ooooh goodness does time fly! I can't believe I have been here on earth this many years so far. ;) I've been thinking a lot. Partly because I'm a little older today than I was yesterday and partly because I have been discussing this in my English class. What is success? describes success as the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one's goals; the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. 
   It seems to be that the "American Dream" tells us to root for money, fame, and love. the perfect career. a college degree. the 'picture perfect' mom, dad, and two kids. a car you can't afford. your dream house. What happens if you have none of these? What if you are in still in college after 5 years of high school and seemingly nowhere near finishing? What if you don't really know what you want to spend the rest of your life doing? What if your relationship status is currently single? What if you've had the same falling a part, un-airconditioned car for six years? What if life isn't going the way you 'planned' it? Does this mean that you failed?
  I've been wrestling with these thoughts lately. I know a piece of this struggle comes from the enemy trying to fill me with his lies that I am wasting away my life. trying to discourage me from my true. purpose. Another piece of this struggle is just me coming to terms with what really is my purpose. Why am I here? There comes a point when we have to sit down with God and have a heart-to-heart. Trust requires walking into the unknown. It requires faith. But this doesn't mean that it all comes easily. This trust thing is super difficult. 
World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs
  I heard a line in a song the other day that simply says "I want to waste my life to search you out, to search you out." Like Mary of Bethany. I long to pour my life out on the one I love. When everyone else says it is a waste. My life's work and money. Just pour it out before Him. Because He is worth it. Everyone else may say I am crazy. That matters not. What matters is what my beloved says to me. That He sees the value in what I do. That I learn to know His heart and follow after that. This is what matters. This is true success. That I waste my life in pursuit of Him and the things He has called me to. Regardless of the cost. Regardless of the time it takes.
"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
1 Samuel 15:22-23 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Serve Moore

  I am waaaay behind, but this summer I went to Moore, Oklahoma with a group of young adults from my church. As you know on May 20th of this year a tornado ripped through Moore and destroyed a good section of the city. It went right through an elementary school and killed many adults and children in the city. As a group we decided we wanted to go down and see what we could do to help. We packed into a van and drove down to partner with Southgate Baptist Church. The tornado literally went through their backyard. Their church suffered some damages, but they were still alive and serving in the community. They provided daily meals to those who came in to eat. They went out in the neighborhood and just offered to help people and minister to them. We helped serve a meal while we were there and then we drove out and asked people if we could help. It actually took several tries to get a family to accept our help. Those who didn't want the help we simply prayed with.
Cole, Dalton, and Alex helped cook food out in the pouring rain. Nice rain gear ehh?? :)

Bree, me, and Patty

  We finally found a little family to help. We worked in their yard to get it cleaned up. We spent several hours with Patty and Bree. Bree actually attended the school that the tornado hit. She was protected the whole time. When Bree got out she walked around to all the parents she knew and told them that their children were okay. God used her that day to provide a little semblance of peace throughout a little chaos. At the end of the afternoon Patty sat down, sighed with relief, and shared how it almost looked back to the way it was before the tornado. If we could go all this way to help out just a few people, we did what we set out to do. It was such a blessed afternoon. A reminder of how God moves even in the midst of struggles. He is alive and breathing.
  We also visited the site of the school. There was a little memorial setup for the children and the teacher that died. Such a moving place to visit.

 These crosses stand for the teacher and children who died on May 20th, 2013 from Plaza Towers Elementary.

All of our group with Bree and Patty.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm Hooked!

  Bag Day Book Sale. Tis such a wonderful day! My sister has been going to the library's sale for several years now and I have somehow always missed out. I finally got to attend this past month. It was sooooo great. Especially for a book lover like me. Reading is such fun. I love to travel. I can't always get in the car or hop on a plane and go somewhere. Some days I simply let books take me places.
  Anywhoo, the bag day book sale is offered at our library. You pay $5 for a paper bag. Then you enter a room FILLED with books. As many books as you can fit in that bag, you can take home. All for $5. I got about 28 books in my bag for a total of 18 cents per book. That's a sweet deal!! I got a few other books as well that my mom and sister generously allowed me space in their bags because they had room.
  Here are a few pictures of my good finds!

These were my why not books. I have a bread machine. I'd love to try out some new recipes!
I like card games, so this book will be fun to check out.

I like classics AND biographies. Therefore I consider these some pretty good finds. Martin Luther and Helen Keller, I look forward to learning more about your lives. :)

I like fiction books. A lot. Here are a few I got!

A few books to challenge me. :)

My best find of the day was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. My pastor has mentioned this book many times and I have always wanted to read it. I went to a used bookstore in downtown Lawrence and found it for about $7 but I just couldn't buy it. Now I know why. I got it for 18 cents instead. Good things come to those who wait. ;)

If you see one you would like to borrow, just let me know. I won't keep my good finds to myself. Just ask!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Arms Wide Open

   Seasons. I loooooove them. Constantly changing. Allowing for new things to take place. Maybe you don't particularly like one season of life but you continue through it because you know something better is coming. For instance, winter is not my most favorite time of year, but that's fine by me because I know that spring is just around the corner. Then soon it will be fall. I enjoy them both sooo much! If it was spring or fall all year round I probably would not enjoy the weather as much. Thus the joy in different seasons.
  This year has been a season of trust for me. A BIG ONE. As a follower of Christ we are called to constantly trust God, without really knowing what is coming next. Trust that He knows best. Trust that He is going to give us that very best. Trust that He isn't holding out on us (like the enemy tries to convince us).

Trust - firm belief in the honesty, reliability, etc. of another; confident expectation, hope

   Have you ever seen this interaction?
        A child goes up to their daddy and says "Daddy how much do you love me?" He opens up his arms as wiiiiiiiiiiide as they will go and says "I love you this much!!" Or maybe it is the child telling the parent they love them that much. The point is that they want the person to know that they love them an incredible amount. That nothing hinders that love.
       This is what Jesus has been doing with me lately. He's asking me "Stefanie, how much do you trust me?" I want to spread my arms out as wide as I can and tell Him that I trust Him fully and completely. Nothing holding me back. However, that is not the case. I'm human. In reality I can maybe space my hands out about a foot apart and tell God that I trust Him that much. He sees that, and He sees my desire to trust Him more, and so He is giving me opportunities to stretch my arms out a little farther. To trust Him more. It hurts to stretch, but once you get used to the stretching, it isn't so bad. Right? ;) much do you trust God? Do you have a confident expectation or hope in His ability to care for you? To provide for you? Do you believe He is honest and reliable? 
     How about this? Ask Him to stretch your arms out a little wider. Maybe someday they will be wide open!


Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
 And my faith will be made stronger... 
-Oceans by Hillsong United

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Crossing the Finish Line

   I have a picture to share with you. I've been running a lot lately so it stems slightly from that. Enjoy.

   Goal - the place at which a race, trip, etc. is ended; an end that one strives to attain

  When you go out to run the very beginning of the run is easy. You aren't tired. You have lots of energy. But as you keep running you slowly lose your energy. Maybe your breathing gets a little deeper. Each breath you take is a little more difficult to take in. Then comes the end. You are really struggling now. You feel like you want to quit. It hurts to breathe. But you can't quit now. You are so close. You can almost see the finish line. So you push a little bit farther. A little bit harder. You've got this. Finally you make it. You've crossed the finish line. The journey may have been difficult, but you made it in the end. You crossed the finish line. You
made it to your goal.

Finish - to bring to an end; means or manner of completing or perfecting

    How does that feel? The taste of success is wonderful! Maybe you aren't running a literal race, but you are definitely striving to reach a certain goal. Whether you are at the very beginning, the middle, or nearing the end, I encourage you in this. Push further. Don't give up now. Yes, difficulties come in life. We encounter situations that take our breath away and we want to give up. Cry out in your anguish. If you do I promise God will send along someone to encourage you. He'll give you the extra strength you need to keep on going. He will give you exactly what you need to cross the finish line.

 Don't quit now. The end is in sight. Keep on running. You will cross the finish line soon.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Color Vibe

 Hellooooooooooo friends!!

  This last weekend I got to do something I've always been wanting to a 5K!! I'm working on this Dream Book that has a list and pictures of all of the things I want to do, the places I want to go (there is A LOT!!), and the things I want to accomplish so that I live my life to the fullest, not wasting a moment.

   Running a 5K is one of my beginning goals. I started running a few years ago but I never actually got around to doing this. Now I can honestly say I have, and I want to do another! This one was fun because every mile there were people standing at a checkpoint to throw color (cornstarch with color in it) on you. Everyone was given a packet of color before the race started & we were supposed to throw it all over the crowd of people. Unfortunately my color didn't stick as much as I wanted it to, but it was still a fun experience!!

 Here are a few pictures. :)

My running partner, mi hermano. :)

Ariel joined in at the end. I found more color to apply to myself. ;)

They had a color party after, full of dancing and throwing color.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Climbing out of the Valley ;)

 Valley - a low point or interval in any process, representation, or situation (according to

  When you come down off of the mountain top it is easy to get stuck in the valley. The year I spent in Colorado was a mountain top experience for me, literally and figuratively. ;) I experienced sooo much growth. Coming home I knew what I was supposed to do. I did it. I stayed on top on the mountain for a while. Even in Kansas. But then something happened. I started slipping down off of the mountain. Little by little at first. A little less time with Jesus each day. A little less time praying for those in need of it. Then I
started feeling sorry for myself again. Missing my friends. My old community. The road God asked me to travel brought me to a few speed bumps. Difficulties. Hurts. Old wounds opened up. Things I wasn't prepared to handle. On my own. Yet on my own did I try to handle them. The end result? I slid a little further down the mountain. Then one day I looked around and realized I was at the bottom of the mountain. I was in the valley. Laying flat down on my face. It hurt. A lot. Yet I wanted to sit down and mope. Nurse my wounds and once again argue with God as to why I was way down here, in the valley. And so down in the bottom of the valley I sat. For a few long painful months. Several times I tried to get up, but I didn't have the strength to stand up all the way, so I just sat back down again and gave up.
   The one day something changed. I woke up and realized that it wasn't fun anymore sitting down at the bottom of the mountain. It was suffocating. I wanted out. I came across this article by Dr. Charles Stanley called "The Valley Experiences in our Life." So exactly what I needed to hear. I'm about to share with you a few of the things that impacted me the most. Maybe you feel like you are in your own valley right now and you want out. There is hope!

  All of us go through valley experiences in life. 
      Adversity is an inevitable part of life. When difficulties come, we tend to wonder why God has allowed us to suffer.  We may even feel abandoned by Him. But Scripture tells us otherwise. Psalm 23 describes the Lord caring for us as tenderly and faithfully as a shepherd cares for His flock. This beloved passage of God's Word is a reminder that He is always present - loving, protecting, and guiding us. He has a purpose for every adversity He allows. The biblical principle is We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountain tops.

  Every valley is a passageway rather than a destination.
      Eventually, the difficulty will pass. David wrote, "I walk through the valley." (Psalm 23:4)
   God controls the depth and length of a valley experience.
       The deeper the valley, the greater the work God will be able to do through it.
       The valley experience might be shorter and less painful IF it takes only a little suffering to bring about deeper surrender to God in your life. Resisting Him will typically lengthen a period of suffering.

   We learn more in a valley experience than we do on the mountain top.
         In hard times, we are far more likely to discover how to rely on God than when things are going well.
         In the valley, we learn more about the nature of God: His presence in our pain, His love in our loss, and His patience despite our complaints. Through hardship, He may strip us of pride, renew our passion for Him, refine our character, and/or purify our motives.

    Conclusion: No one can completely escape all suffering in life. But as believers, we can face difficulties with confidence.
         If you are willing to walk with Him through the valley, you will experience God’s highest blessing on the next mountaintop.

How I climb out of the valley....
   What really struck me the most is this: The valley experience might be shorter and less painful IF it takes only a little suffering to bring about deeper surrender to God in your life. Resisting Him will typically lengthen a period of suffering.  
  Why am I continually fighting Him? He only wants to help me. Yet I sit here and feel like He is out to get me when I go through times of suffering. Not true. He wants to bring me closer to Him. He wants me to learn who my true strength is and rely on Him instead. He really does have the best in store for me. Sometimes it just involves a long and difficult journey to get there. I'll appreciate it more once I have made it through!
   Are you struggling right now? Do you feel like God has abandoned you? I promise you the answer is NOT SO. He is bringing you through. If you let Him. Let Him lead you through the valley. Don't lay down and give up. Starting climbing out. Sometimes you'll fall and sometimes you'll slide back down. But keep climbing. You will make it!! Maybe I'll see you somewhere along the climb!? :)

Here's a song that came along at the right time. May it encourage you as much as it did me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Love You Mom!!

Mother's Day 2013

  This last week was a very special week. Mother's Day and my mother's birthday. I just wanted to share a few words about the wonderful woman I am blessed to call mom.

    I love you mom! You are an incredible woman of God. You have served Him with your whole heart. Even though He has called you to climb through the difficulties instead of going around them. He is teaching you complete dependence and trust in Him. He is proving Himself faithful to you. The relationship you have with Jesus is SUCH an example for me to follow. I know I would not be where I am now if it wasn't for you. :)
KC Trip 2008
   I love you mom! You are my best friend. Through the years my other friends have come and gone. You've always been there for me. A shoulder to cry on. A friend to laugh with. Watch Gilmore Girls with. Take the best road trips together. Pray together. Cook together. Have coffee with. Come and visit me WHEREVER I am (in and out of the country). Everything a friend does, you do. I can't really explain how grateful I am to you, but know this, I am!
  I love you mom! Thank you for trusting God enough to allow me to live in Colorado for a year. One of the things I love most about that time is that God began to give me a heart for prayer. Just like you. I am blessed to be prayer partners with you. Our once a month prayer meetings at church. The day of prayer. Our prayer meetings for our family as we are driving across different states. Or prayer for our own immediate family. Thank you so much for partnering with me in this battle! Good thing we know who wins! ;)
Erie, Pennsylvania  2012
  I love you mom! More than words can say. Yet I don't think I will ever be able to repay you for everything you have done for me. All the times you gave up other things to come support me. Thank you for allowing God to shape you into the incredible woman you are. Thank you for all of your service. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your friendship. 
I love you mom!!!!!

Mexico 2008  

Valentine's 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Great Romancer

  Valentine's Day.  As I drove to work I thought, didn't even say it out loud, 'God since it's just us again this year I would really like some physical evidence of your love for me. I know you love me, but can you show me somehow today?' I was at work for an hour or so when my sister came in with my two nephews. Zechariah, my youngest nephew, was all dressed up and he had a big card for me & some candy. He had colored in the card for me and written that he loved me. Super cute. As they were walking out the door he turned and came walking back rather shyly to ask 'Would you be my 'true love'?' Of course I said yes! ;) God continues to use Zechariah and Gabriel to remind me of His love for me. It's pretty legit. I have a special bond with my nephews that I wouldn't trade for anything. They are my favorite boys ever!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Battling Hope

   It's time. Time for me to reveal what God has been doing these last few months. It's been intense buuuut I'm glad I am going through it all. Because I have a story to tell. A story that I hope will encourage you. I really pray that what I want to say comes out and I get my point across. I have tried several times in the last few weeks to write this post and I have had to stop. I just haven't had the words to say. Now I think I do.
   I have a problem of wanting to always appear like I'm not struggling with anything. I hate getting in trouble. I hate when people are upset with me. I just want everyone to get along. I want to be perfect. News flash Stefanie - you aren't perfect. Never have been. Never will be. I don't like to admit defeat.
It was then that He carried me...
    However I need to tell you something. I've been feeling defeated lately. I've lost hope. Hope, the thing that Romans 5:5 says does not disappoint. Yet every time I read that verse I would laugh inside because I felt like hope did disappoint. Disappoint - to fail to satisfy the hopes or expectations. I felt disappointed by the countless times I clung to what I thought were promises only to be let down again.
    You might wonder what I've been disappointed by? Well as you most likely already know if you know me, or have ever read my blog, I have never dated anyone. I've felt for years and years like I was supposed to remain single and wait on God. So I have been asked out a handful of times in my life and I have always said no. I honestly have not felt like I was supposed to say yes. So I waited. Then I waited some more. I liked a few different guys. Kept on waiting. I liked another boy or two. Kept on waiting.
    Do you get the picture here? I've been waiting for a while. Every time someone new came into my life I would ask God, "Is it time yet?" He said "No, keep waiting. I'm not ready to share you yet." Now, this might sound kind of nice, right? Jesus, the one who came to give His life for me because He loves me, doesn't want to share me with anyone yet. Sure, it's nice at first. To be honest though - when you hear that over and over again for countless years it gets old. And so, I began to lose hope. Hope - a feeling that what is wanted will happen. I began to doubt that what I really wanted to happen in my life would ever happen. There is a song by Casting Crowns that says 'it's a slow fade when you give yourself away.' I've found that is so true. When you hear the lies of the enemy and you begin to believe them you don't even realize you are fading away. So I began to believe that maybe God didn't really have the best in store for me. That He really was holding out on me. His plans for me weren't full of hope. But loneliness.
    About a month or so ago I came to the end of my rope. I'd been believing the lies of the enemy for too long. I'd been hurt, unintentionally, one too many times. I had cried too many times over yet another disappointment. So I decided to do something about it. Luckily I made the right choice and I got together with someone to pray. It's called Theophostic Prayer. You pray and ask Jesus to take you back to the place where you were first hurt, or you first began to doubt His goodness. You ask for truth.

   So I did. I asked Jesus to show me where I began to listen to the lies of the enemy and I began to doubt His truth, His goodness. I admitted to Him that I truly felt despair - to lose hope. I didn't trust Him anymore. I apologized and asked for truth. The amazing thing about God is that He really does not disappoint. I told Him I had no hope left. He reminded me of various times when He called me to wait and He came through. #1 - I heard about DLA. He told me to wait. 2 years later I moved to Colorado for a year and went to DLA!! WOWwww God! #2 - I have always wanted to pay for my college all up front. One semester I felt like I was supposed to sign up for ex. amount of classes but I didn't quite have enough money. On the VERY LAST DAY my money was due God came through and provided me with exactly the money I needed. Wooow God!
    Okay, I was beginning to get the point. All of the times He had asked me to wait, there was a reason. He came through. In a way that I knew it was ONLY God. This reminded me of a passage in Ezekiel 37 that talks about how God came through in a way that it was evident it was ONLY God who did it and NO ONE else. So I opened to read the scripture. I couldn't even read the whole chapter because I began to laugh. I was literally FILLED TO THE TOP with JOY. His joy. Why? Because in the midst of my lack of hope He gave me new hope. Ezekiel 37:11-14 says "Then he said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.' 
     For seriously 5 minutes or more I had a wonderful laugh attack and I ended up in tears I laughed so much. God came through. He renewed my hope. In a powerful way. I won't ever forget it. And now, that scripture is my new promise from God. I still have no idea what the future holds. I can't see past tomorrow. However I do know, whatever He has for me, it will be good. It won't be easy. This is still a daily struggle. I can't wait to be truly on the other side of this. But I have hope. I have a feeling that what is wanted will happen. In His timing.
    Along the way He can use me in my weakness and my brokenness. He seems to work best that way any how. ;) I know that is actually a huuuuge part of why I am going through all of this. Because He wants me to minister to women. To those who struggle with relationships. Or the lack thereof. How can I truly say I've been there unless I've truly been there? So thank you Jesus for the struggle. Thank you for the hope.

  What are you struggling with right now? Maybe, just maybe, God actually wants to use your struggle to teach you something. To use you to minster to someone. Ask Him. I promise, He'll let you in on it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Very Mexico Christmas

  This Christmas was a little unlike any other one. I spent it in Mexico. Something new. We came to give gifts to some of the neediest families in the church of La Fuente Riviera in Bucerias, Jalisco. Our church in Topeka bought gifts for the families and me and five other ladies flew here to bring the gifts in our luggage. I just wanted to share a little about our trip, so here goes.

  Monday December 24th: We met at the church at 3am to drive to KC. From KC we flew to Atlanta, Georgia. Right when we were about to get on board the plane they announced that it was not safe for us to board because of a thunderstorm so we sat and waited for the storm to pass. After a short delay we were on our way to Vallarta!! Our drive to Bucerias, where the church is, is only about a 20 minute drive from the airport. Not bad at all.
  We took an afternoon siesta before going to a Christmas dinner at the pastor's house. After dinner we went to downtown Bucerias to sing Christmas carols and drink tasty Mexican hot chocolate. The carols were basically in English so we could all sing along. :)
 Tuesday December 25th: We took about a 15 minute walk across one busy street and a little hike downhill to the beach. There we spent the morning enjoying God's beautiful creation. Mountains + ocean = the best of both worlds (in my opinion)! One of the church staff member's parents were in Bucerias for Christmas and we met them at the beach. They provided us with a lunch of apples & pineapple, chips, Pepsi, and cookies. A very well balanced Christmas meal. ;)
  The afternoon was spent wrapping Christmas gifts. Lots of them. All for the families to receive. We are so excited to have them open all these wonderful gifts and pray they are blessings to them!
  We had our own little church service. Listened to Born is the King by Hillsong and then did our own little Secret Santa exchange among us girls on the trip.
My Mexican Family :)
My favoritist sister ever!!!
  Lastly we had a Christmas dinner with the family of one of the ladies on the trip, who is originally from Mexico. It was a fun time of fellowship...and translating. ;)
  Wednesday December 26th: We spent the day cleaning at the church. Some of us cleaned bathrooms and the sanctuary while others deep cleaned the kitchen or painted. Fun stuff!
  In the evening we got to attend the church service and enjoy some Spanish worship. I loooove worshiping Jesus in other languages, with people I don't know, because I still sense God's presence and I am reminded how He really is the same God. NO matter where you go. Then we each went into different children's classes to help. Again, I loooove helping with the kids, especially in Mexico. I think I have a heart for little Mexican children, and they seem to like me. ;)
 Thursday December 27th: We spent the morning in Puerta Vallarta walking along the beach and doing some tourist shopping. It was fun for me to go with the other ladies and help them communicate a bit in Spanish and take them to different places I've been there. It's like another one of my homes. Mexico is.
  We went back to the church to prepare for the party. Our reason for coming! We peeled potatoes for mashed potatoes....we set up the room and decorated it as Christmasy as we could. We brought all the wonderful presents down to get set up. We walked around the room and had a prayer meeting.
  And then the people started coming.
  There were awkward moments at parts because we don't all speak the same language. I can, but not fluently. I tried. They appreciated it and laughed at me when I was incorrect. I laughed. We bonded.
  The families all came from different mission churches so none of them knew each other. They all sat in separate parts of the room with their own families because I'm sure it was a very humbling thing to come and be receiving food and gifts from people you don't know, with people you don't know. As the dinner progressed the families gradually became a little more comfortable talking and the children began running around having fun.
Some of the families enjoying dinner...
 When it came time to give them the gifts our team leader shared how we came to bring them these gifts alllll the way from Topeka, Kansas because God cares so much for them each that He sent us here. It wasn't by accident. Each family was handpicked because of their need. Each person was prayed for by name. We care about them. Jesus cares waaaaay more. He wanted them to know they are special.
 It was such a blessing to start handing out gifts to the families. We each took a family and fit their presents in our luggage and then wrapped them when we got to Mexico. We've been praying for them. So we decided to hand out the gifts to our families. I don't think they were quite expecting all that they got. Clothes. Toys. Purses. Marshmallow Shooters. Candy. Books. Games. Hair Accessories. We made sure they all received plenty.  The thing that was most incredible: the children were most excited by their socks and shoes and plain bouncy balls. They didn't need anything fancy. They were soooo excited to get their clothes. One of the teenage boys put his new shoes and shirt on right then and there. What a blessing to witness! 
 That night the room was filled with joy. Overflowing to us all. It was incredible! I felt even more blessed because when we spent time praying before the party I just felt compelled to pray for joy. That Jesus would overflow these families with a joy they haven't felt in a while. God answered that prayer. I know there was joy in that room. Contagious joy. That each and every person felt to some extent. Thank you Jesus!!!
Me and my 'adopted' family
 The families came expecting a gift or two and went home with an incredible amount of gifts. We also gave them groceries, a chicken to cook, eggs and cheese. They were not shorted by any means. They were all so appreciative. Each and every person had to hug every one of us ladies on the team, even if we hadn't said anything to them the rest of the evening besides hello. They didn't care. A hug was in order. The whole evening was a blessing. For us and for the families. It's a toss-up who enjoyed it more. ;)
  To anyone who donated to the trip or prayed for us while we were gone, thank you. Thank you thank you you! You impacted someone in Mexico, whether you knew it or not. :) It was a domino effect kind of impact. You blessed us so we could bless them so they could bless someone else and I pray it continues on.
  Here is a short video of our trip. Do enjoy!! Mexico Video

All of the ladies on our trip! Wonderful group!