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T R U S T the pilot

If there’s one thing in my life that I’ve kind of mastered, it’s being on airplanes.

Actually… I’m on one RIGHT NOW as I write this.

I recently found myself on an airplane, getting ready to land. It was a really bumpy flight and they made the flight attendants sit down early and there was a lot of tension in the air. It wasn’t the hugest thing – sometimes air is weird, right? It just is. It wasn’t that I was SCARED or NERVOUS, just tense.

We were getting closer and closer to the ground, and that’s when I started freaking.

I wanted to yell to the pilot “SLOW DOWN, SIR!!! YOU ARE GOING TOO FAST!!!!”

Honestly, I thought we were going to be unable to stop, speed off the end of the runway and I would die outside of the Denver airport, but then I realized I could at least check that off of my 101 list, kind of.

We hit the ground hard, and the little flappy things on the wing flew up and the plane started fighting to slow down and then… it slowed down… and soon enough I was safe and sound inside of the Denver airport as they were shutting down ALL THE FOOD PLACES (that’s a completely irrelevant point, but I just wanted to make it).

As we were pulling into the gate, I thought to myself… Stephanie, you need to take a chill pill. You are not a pilot. You actually referred to a part of the plane as the “flappy things.” I don’t know what a single button in the control panel does, I have no real idea how a plane defies gravity and flies in the air… I am actually really clueless about piloting a plane.

trust the pilot // stephanieorefice.net

I think I do that a lot with God, if I’m honest.

I’m in the back, watching stuff out the window, thinking “HOLD ON, MISTER. WAIT A MINUTE. ARE YOU SURE? REALLY?”

The things I am freaking out about are things I have absolutely no control over. Maybe that’s why it’s easy to be critical, because being critical at least makes me feel like I’m a part of something that’s actually too big for me to assist.

I guess that’s what Jesus means when he talks about not worrying. God’s the pilot, we’re the passengers, and it’s not His job to consult us for our desired landing style or to teach us what the purpose of the flappy things are; it’s our job to trust and it’s His job to pilot.

Easier said than done for sure, but when we realize how little our worrying accomplishes, we are able to heed the words of Queen Elsa and LET. IT. GO.

Here’s to embracing the turbulence and trusting the pilot.

#JESUSTAKETHEWHEEL

 

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When Satan tempts me to dispair…

A few months ago I was at the Imago Dei Eastside Gathering. It was a hot Sunday evening in the little chapel that has no air conditioning, just windows opened and fans going. The lights were off to keep it cool. We sang the song “Before the Throne of God Above,” and as I stood there reading the lyrics, unable to sing, tears fell out of my eyes.

before the throne of God above // stephanieorefice.net

 

Before the throne of God above // stephanieorefice.net

Let me be real. There are sins in my life that I struggle with so consistently and so deeply that my life feels like it’s one giant spiral of repeating the same sin, hearing the same deceptions, believing the same lies, and praying the same words out of guilt. I am full of bitterness and cynicism, judgment and eye rolls. and some days that is made so much more aware to me than others.

and on those days, Satan camps out in my guilt.

A month or so ago, I had one of those mornings. and I was driving to work, and as I turned onto the street by my church I thought “I’m so full of sin and yet I’m someone’s YOUTH PASTOR!? I should quit my job and let them find someone who screws up less.” and I really started to beat myself up over it. But then I remembered the words of a Mercy Me song that say “There’ll be days I lose the battle, grace says that it doesn’t matter, cuz the cross already won the war.” (Greater – MercyMe)

and I started crying my eyes out because that was the truth I needed to be reminded of. Deep in my spirit I heard the Holy Spirit say “Stephanie. Repent and move on.

But repent. Not just “ask for forgiveness.” Repent; the whole turning away from sin and walking the other way.

There are nights when I lay in bed and I cry and thank God for protecting me from the certain sins that really wage war on my heart. I am so grateful to have survived a day without any battles.

and then other nights.

Before the throne of God above // stephanieorefice.net

Other nights I lay in bed and cry and apologize for all of my careless words and my bitter heart. I hang the head of my heart in shame that my actions often terribly misrepresent how I feel about the Lord in my heart.

But Jesus stood in the gap. For me. For my sins.

He took the receipt straight up to the counter and he paid for the meal he never tasted. It’s covered. Taken care of. Put the wallet away, because your money is no good here.

Pastor Matt once said that God is just as if he has no mercy and he is merciful as if he has no justice because you cannot have one without the other. It took me a very long time to understand that, but once I did… it changed so much.

and because of that, “for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me,” is one of the most powerful phrases I have in my arsenal to combat the lies of Satan, the enemy, who loves to kick me when I am down.

BUT THE CROSS.

MY sinless Savior.

MY pardon.

Do not let your burdened, exhausted, weary heart forget the redemptive power of Christ’s life sacrificed on the cross. Soak up that liberation, and live like you have been saved. You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, you’ll be disappointed in yourself, you may even disappoint others.. but don’t EVER forget that you. are. free.

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good in His eyes.

A few weeks ago I stood in the chapel at camp with the camp staff as we sang the words of a popular worship song:

You give
and take away.

and I started thinking about how we often think of God’s giving as “good” and his taking away as “bad.”

I recently read the part in 1 Samuel where Samuel gives Eli a pretty brutal word from God, and Eli’s response is mind-blowing. Eli responds, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.

Susannah and I have a problem with people who use Scriptures out of context and to meet their own needs. I recently sent her this meme:

Jeremiah 29:11 meme // stephanieorefice.net

Also happens with Romans 8:28. I think the problem is that we want something to get us through the bad, so we cling to wherever the Bible says “God is going to make something good come of this bad thing.”

I have this new theory.

My new theory is this:

God doesn’t do bad things.

Crazy idea, I know. but Romans 8:28… God works all things together for good? Yeah, because God’s works ARE good. Do we agree with “good”? Probably not. PEOPLE do “bad” things, and then God is CONSTANTLY redeeming those things. He’s always saying “sorry that your brother over there is a jerk; I can use this if you let me.”

Everything God does is good.

EVERYTHING.

Every redemptive, destructive, just and merciful act of God is good because God is good.

The problem isn’t in if God is or isn’t doing something – if he is giving or taking away – the problem is that we think we know what “good” means, and then we get all grumbly if God doesn’t do that thing.

God’s done this great thing of rebuilding my broken pieces into an even more whole person than I was before I was shattered, and in that I’ve felt this weird surge of people championing for me. I’ve had people notice me or be more quick to say “you are absolutely awesome” or “I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO MEET SOMEONE AS PASSIONATE ABOUT LIFE AS YOU!!!” (like my friend Sarah Jane declared when we were driving back from our hike) and for the first time in my whole entire I life I have this weird certainty that regardless of what it might look like, God’s doing a good thing.

A few of my friends have lamented recently that they might not ever be married, and they’re sad. and I kind of insensitively declared “WHO CARES!? GOD WILL STILL USE YOU IF YOU LET HIM!!!” because I’m realizing that God’s good – even the confusing good – is so much more valuable and precious than my good.

So yes. We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him. Because that’s what a good God does. If we are wise, we’d learn to respond like Eli (who said this after hearing that his two sons would die on the same day because of their disobedience, and that Eli’s family line would be removed from the priests) when he said “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in His eyes.”

because that’s what a good God does. 
A good God does what is good in his eyes. 

He is the Lord; Let him do what is good in His eyes. -1 Samuel 3:18 // stephanieorefice.net

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it is well with me.

Nearly three months ago, there was a big upset in my life. I’ve spent a LOT of time processing it, and I’ve been growing a lot through it. At the advice of Amber, I prayed that God would keep me soft.. that through this whole thing, I wouldn’t start to push people away or develop trust issues or become bitter, but that I’d stay vulnerable and raw, filled with a quiet joy and a constant hope.

Two weeks ago I went up to camp for two days. At breakfast, a stream of teenagers waited to talk to me… teenagers I’d known as campers, but who were now staff members. Then Mitchell gave me a name tag:

Summer 2015 // stephanieorefice.net

Over the course of my two days, I did dishes, helped treat campers for lice, was able to say goodnight to the first campers to sleep in the new cabins, played dodgeball, was a counselor, and cleaned up a pukey bathroom. I poured my heart out on my two days off at camp, and as I drove out of the driveway on my way home I started sobbing.

Because I realized…. I am okay.

Not just in some sort of self-affirming “you are strong and fierce and brave” kind of way, but in a… holy crap, I’m completely surviving this situation that has broken my heart. I’m okay. I can still pour out love and serve to the point of exhaustion; I can listen and respond and be brave and make friends and step away to be alone and laugh with people.

I needed to be at camp to see that.

it is well // stephanieorefice.net

Driving away, I lost it. I kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you,” to the Lord… over and over and over. I didn’t need any more words. Just gratitude, because the storm has passed.

Then I listened to this:

 

and I felt my whole entire being sigh, because God’s got me. He masterfully brought me to the place where I hear him the clearest because I need him the deepest, and then he drenched me – straight up DRENCHED ME – in his peace. The journey of the past few months has been an emotional, wild ride. I’m learning to hold expectations loosely and be pleasantly surprised with what God does with the things that make up my life.

God is far more creative than I am and has unimaginable resources at his disposal, so trusting him seems a bit like a no-brainer at this point.

it is well // stephanieorefice.net

 

 

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The Ascension

Airplanes will always amaze me. I think it was last year at this time that I was flying to Nashville and it hit me that I was in this amazing transport vehicle that could fly in the air and take me from Portland to Nashville super quickly. I cried, because it was just SO AMAZING.

Last week I flew to San Francisco (okay TECHNICALLY Oakland) and I was feeling a LOT of feels.. the last time I went to the airport was with.. and the last airplane I was on was with.. and the time before that when I left Portland was the day I called.. AND it was kind of grey in the sky.. and I was kind of exhausted.. ugh. It was a lot.

We took off, and I sat there crying out the window. Like a grown up, because that’s how I roll.

and suddenly I realized… we are going through the clouds.

The Ascension // stephanieorefice.net

Like… we are flying UP… UP.. UP…. and the clouds can only last for so long.

and in those few minutes I started feeling excited because I knew what was coming. and sure enough..

The Ascension // stephanieorefice.net

We made it out of the clouds. They were below us. and we were in the sun. It was a beautiful day above the clouds. So clear, in fact, that if you look closely.. you can see Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.

The Ascension // stephanieorefice.net

 

I started thinking about the clouds in my life, the things that make everything overcast and grey.  Fears, insecurities, shame from the past.. but then I started thinking about how the clouds don’t actually affect the brightness of the Sun. The Sun doesn’t dim itself because of clouds and “then the cloud of doubt may hide the light of day,” but it just hides the light. It doesn’t diminish or wipe out the light. The clouds are temporary, the Son is eternal. Changed the vowes to make it truth. The Son is eternal light. Eternal, even in the face of our temporary clouds.

and you know what? From way up high, clouds don’t seem like such a big deal. You can see the breaks in the shadows and the limits of their reach.  They’re not so doom and gloom from the other side.

The Ascension // stephanieorefice.net

To get to the other side of the clouds we have to get our feet off the ground.

Through hope.

Hoping in God.

I once heard someone say that hope is your spirit’s sigh at the end of the night that says “it’s all true,” about God’s promises.

Isaiah 40:31 says that hope is how we soar on wings like eagles.

Hope, not like “I hope this will happen,” but hope like “God’s promises are sure.

Promises like the one I read while on the plane:

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Rest in that. Place the certainty of your spirit in those words – God is with you. He won’t leave you. His perfect love for you casts out all of your fear.

Hope in God’s promises and then start the ascension up up up over the clouds.

The Ascension lyrics // Phil Wickham // stephanieorefice.net

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Future | Past

I used to think it was weird that God speaks to me in visions. They’re not future-telling or anything, but every so often I get hit with this very clear visual of what the truth of a moment is like. Deeper insight into what is going on around me, if you will. But God’s got a history of speaking in dreams and visions, so I needn’t feel like a weirdo.

This whole vision was deeply inspired by two things.

First, by this quote from Love Does by Bob Goff:

Bob Goff quote // Love Does // stephanieorefice.net

Second, this song by John Mark McMillan:

I was at church and it was offering song time, which means we were all seated. We sang the song I shared, Future/Past by John Mark McMillan. I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my head on my knees, letting my knees collect the tears dripping out of my eyes. Because that song is beautiful and my spirit is sensitive.

Then.

I got this image of a hospital room. My mom was preparing to give birth to me, and I saw angels leaning over excitedly saying to each other “there she is! there she is!” because since the beginning of creation, God has BEAMED with love over me. and he had prepared Heaven for May 30th, 1985. The day he would debut his masterpiece for the world to see. The long-awaited day when SHE would enter the world. and the excitement was contagious.

I was completely overwhelmed. and then immediately..

another hospital room.

I wasn’t an age, I wasn’t an affliction… I was just alone in a hospital room, dying. Alone. Dying alone. One of my biggest fears. But I saw angels leaning over excitedly saying to each other “here she comes! here she comes!” because for the entirety of my life, God has BEAMED with love over me. and he had prepared Heaven for whatever day that will be. The day he will retire his masterpiece from public display to private, cherished collection. The long-awaited day when SHE would enter the Kingdom.  and the excitement, despite my fears, was contagious.

You are my future and my past // John Mark McMillan // stephanieorefice.net

 

All of this stuff in the middle.. it seems so big, so heavy, so trying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important. It’s eternal stuff, and it’s important. But from the beginning, God has been there with a giant smile on his face, singing over me. and he’s doing it right now, and he’ll keep doing it, and he will sing me right into Heaven. and I need to remember that every moment of every day, and so do you. That truth could mean the difference between coward and courage, between fear or faith, between life that is good and life that is overflowing. It changes things, because it’s a big truth and it overshadows a lot of the dumb, heavy stuff we deal with.

Don’t forget who has been in your corner from Day 1.

And You.
You are my first, you are my last.
You are my future and my past.

 

Linking up with Good Morning Mondays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Monday’s Musings, Modest Monday, Small Wonder,

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