Three Good Men

 Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him–or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.
Dorothy L. Sayers

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I recently watched Suffragette at the cinema and despite some negative reviews, I thought that it was an incredibly powerful picture. Whether it was the actions of these brave women that brought about the woman’s vote or not, it cannot be denied that their passionate pursuit inspired women world wide and brought the world’s attention to the despicable way women were once treated. The only criticism I can make of this great film is that it portrayed all men in a very dark light. However, for the sake of poetic licence I understand that this may well have been intended to emphasise the truth…This got me thinking about men and their power and influence and then I began to think about the men in my life and the journey I’ve been on towards freedom.

My Extraordinary Husband

The royal blue sky was filled with fire as the sun set over the beach on our very first date. We walked and talked about God non stop for over 7 hours. As we talked and laughed and watched the stars come out, I knew this beautiful man I had only just met was the man I would marry. The presence of God was so discernible on that amazing day. As romantic and as gushy as it all may sound, this day launched us into such a refining fire. Little did we know that we would be married in 10 months time and our first son born by the end of the following year.

TD Jakes says, No woman wants to be in submission to a man who isn’t in submission to God! This is a sobering truth that I learned the hard way, so when I finally surrendered my heart to God and chose a man saved by grace I knew my choice was a good one. My beautiful husband to be knelt on one knee, with a gorgeous sapphire ring in one trembling hand and an amazing poem in the other, tears escaped his true blue eyes and I knew my answer was a resounding “YES!” Not because he was so besotted with me than he could not live without me, NO.. but because of grace, amazing grace brought him to his knees and he knew that without God he could not do this. His brokenness and honesty and utter dependence on Jesus struck my heart more than anything else; I had fallen in love with a man who loves God! I knew in the deepest part of me that this beautiful blue eyed man with his many gifts and talents and poetic utterance could not fulfil me and he knew it too, and because of this truth I knew heaven cried out in glorious victory at that very moment.

You see I married a man who knows the grace of God; a man who has fought tooth and nail to stand beside me. He is a fiercely faithful and loyal man, a man who when he is feeling completely out of his depth and wanting to flee to the other side of the universe to get way from human beings, get up and sing from the deepest part of his being, with the healing voice of an angel and lead a congregation of broken souls deeper into intimacy with God. I learn so much from my husband Theo, because he isn’t a religious type; he is very real and unpretentious. He relies on God in his brokenness and he doesn’t pretend to have it all together and this is exactly where God wants us to be. He is a man who has held me in my most broken moments and spoken life into my very soul, he has wiped away many tears and even let me scream and completely lose myself from time to time. I don’t think there is a better person to handle my emotions than him; he listens; he gives me words of wisdom and most importantly, he prays.

And now, the thought of blue roses, {he knows 😉 } starry skies, long uninterrupted talks about Jesus, life, love and philosophy are a distant memory as we battle through the nappies, and pass like ships in the sleepless nights. Oh but our time will come, and I’m so thankful for this extraordinary man I have married. Thankful that he chose me and is helping me grow into the woman God made me to be. Thankful for giving me the freedom to be myself by working incredibly hard and taking sole responsibility of our little family, so I can be at home full time and have the freedom to love with the best part of me. To make our home a place of worship, to raise our boys into mighty men. Theo is a gentleman, an amazing daddy, a wonderful husband and I’m proud to be his wife.

smile picMy Awesome Dad

The next blue eyed man I would like to honour is: My awesome Dad. If it wasn’t for this amazing man I would not be here today and I am very grateful to him for rescuing me in my darkest hour. He might say that it was I who rescued him; in fact, it’s probably true to say we rescued each other!

I will never forget the dark day I called him as I lay face down on the floor in a shattered mess. I was borderline suicidal. I needed truth and I needed it fast. If Jesus was the truth then why were we not following him? For fear that I might actually kill myself, my dad pulled himself together and took me back to church. Our first stop was at Jan and Ian’s house; faithful followers of Jesus, (who had prayed faithfully for our return) welcomed us with open arms. Visiting their home was like visiting heaven for the weekend, they are people filled with the warm embrace of Jesus. The prodigal son and his daughter returned and thank God we did!

My Dad gave his heart to Jesus 3 years before I was born. At the age of 21, in his marine uniform he walked to the front of church and knelt before his saviour. A man filled with pride and anger towards God was now on bended knee in a flood of tears in beautiful repentance. Little did he know that in twenty years from then his daughter would walk into that same church and fall on her knees in deep repentance too.

As the years went on my dad fell away from God and had a bit of a mid-life crisis. I will never forget the day he rocked up at my school gates in his cowboy boots, leaning on a walking stick, newly tattooed with skull earrings and reeking of patchouli oil! At the age of 15 I was kind of embarrassed but at the same time looking forward to propping up at the bar and drinking a beer or two with my old man. My dad has always been my mate and we have had the best deep and philosophical discussions in our time, but sadly it always ended in tears and a hangover from hell after a few too many beverages.

BUT Praise God the prodigal son returned! My wonderful Dad experienced amazing grace, and how sweet the sound as father in heaven welcomed him home and threw a party! And why not? Who wouldn’t want Gary Stacey at their party? He is the life and soul! I’m thankful we are now in the colourful days where instead of being thrown out of a pub for outlandish behaviour he is now offending the Pharisee instead! He’s brilliant. He prays, he weeps, he falls to his knees unashamedly and I’m proud to be his daughter.

My dad is a changed man! He is a man truly after God’s own heart, a passionate and kind-hearted gentleman, who always turns up at my door on a regular basis with a heart full of love and a bunch of flowers. His infectious laugh, brilliant conversation and love of God spreads wherever he goes. You see here is another man of integrity who knows the grace of God and I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for him. My Dad is a bright star, full of fire for his first love, Jesus. He is a great dad, a great friend, and a great man.

Van-Kraay Stacey

My Wonderful Pastor

My Pastor Jack is a man filled with rumbling fire. His mother was an evangelist and I see that fire from her burn in him. His desire to see God’s kingdom come is catching. Another passionate blue-eyed man after God’s own heart! What I love about Jack is that there is no beating around the bush, he is not a procrastinator, he’s an activator. If I am allowed to say this, apathy can wreak havoc with men, but not Jack! I absolutely love his desire to lead and bring people closer to God. There was no better man than to speak such dynamite truth on our wedding day. His words still echo in my mind and when Theo and I have had it tough, I remember him repeatedly say, Jesus is the solution.  At times Theo and I have had to walk on water, and if it wasn’t for the love and support of Jack and his beautiful wife Susan we would not be where we are today.

Much needed growth and healing has taken place in me in the last 9 years of being in my precious church. Trials have come and gone and I know that I can count on Jack to be there when the going gets tough. Him and Susan have been there when I have wept buckets, they have sat beside me as I lay in my hospital bed, they have supported me with love and prayer and they cheer me on through the storms of life. When he has visited our home I always feel like I’ve been closer to Jesus having talked with him. He carries a steady, inexpressible peace, he is a man who has through his own trials in life grown in wisdom, stature and grace. Jack is a great speaker and teacher but most importantly he is a compassionate man with a warm embrace. He shares the burden of his people, he gets alongside them and helps them carry their cross. I’m sure if Jack was living for himself he would be playing golf in bonnie Scotland somewhere but he isn’t living to please himself, he’s living by the heartbeat of father God as he ministers to every soul that come his way, whether it be in Preston or in the far East he brings the good news to a dying world.

As a pastor Jack has come up against some seriously heavy weights but by the amazing grace that both him and Susan carry, those enemies are continually defeated, like dominoes they fall. And if it it wasn’t for Susan behind him, Jack would not be the man he is today. But, I am sure that Susan would also say that she would not be who she is, if it wasn’t for him. Jesus is the rock and when a man trusts in God he takes on this form. Jesus lay down his life for his bride and I see this in my pastor. He is a man of sacrifice and I know the cost is painful. So I honour Jack with my words, because he is a faithful, wise and wonderful man in submission to his saviour. He is a shepherd to his flock and his voice is healing. That Scottish accent is a sweet familiar sound that I am so grateful to Jesus for. He too is a man that fights tooth and nail. He will be there for you at the drop of a hat and I am proud to be his spiritual daughter.

jack

So there you have it. Three good men behind me who hold me up, love me and shape me into the woman I’m made to be. In no way do I believe that these men can be as good as they are without God and his amazing grace. It is only God that is truly good; but like TD Jakes says, when a man is in submission to his great God then he in turn becomes an image of his father. Here are three great men who stand behind their women, giving them freedom and cheering them on and behind them stands the master of the universe, cheering them on to be the champions that they were made to be.

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My Little Hulk

 

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I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all, I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The Incredible Hulk. Is he a goody or a baddy? A big green and barbarous superhero, the angrier he gets the more powerful he becomes. Over the years Hulk has been portrayed with an array of personalities, from brutal barbarian to brilliant warrior and poor Hulk’s true identity has been lost along the way, having been manipulated and moulded by the minds of all sorts of comic crazies and superhero artists. I’ve never been a big hulk follower myself, the little I saw of Hulk growing up was perhaps a glimpse of him whilst my big brother marvelled at the TV.

With so many characters in life, whether it be real or fictitious, the truth of their nature can often be thwarted. The creators of The Incredible Hulk found inspiration from Frankenstein and with such characters we know there is so much more than what meets the eye. Shelly’s horror story is more than a horror story, it is a poignant tale of a beautifully intelligent and complex man that was shunned from society because he was misjudged and misunderstood. His super strength, heightened sensitivity and ugliness horrified the people so much that he ran for his life and with a tormented heart found refuge in the wilderness.

Could it be said that too often as a society we have stifled the gift in some incredible people? In fear of how they might have appeared and behaved we have shunned them and supressed the very thing that they were made to become. Especially children. What at first appears to be a horror in actual fact turns out to be something bright, brilliant and beautiful, but the vital tool to this metamorphosis is the gentle nurturing of these incredibly precious and delicate little lives.

When I look at my incredible son and I see his eyes wild and sparkling with the gift within him, excitement wells within me as I revel in the thoughts God shows me about his future. It breaks my heart to think that If this little man in front of me was born into the wrong family such mighty gift could have been snuffed out, boxed in, or even worse, beaten out of him.

The name of my firstborn son means ‘to rest’, I have often laughed out loud at the sheer irony of this truth because if you know him he is the most spirited and exuberant little character you might ever meet. He takes his imagination and physical exertion to a whole new level of genius! Hulk Smash can bite the dust when my boy comes to town!

I’m unashamedly proud of my little man’s gift to lead and live fearlessly. Granted, with this excellence has come tears, sweat and blood and has without doubt served to be (and will continue to be) the painful refining of me, but I am so grateful and privileged to have been trusted to nurture and take responsibility of raising such an excellent little fellow. Perhaps patience and self control are the two fruits in me that I struggle to bear so on this rocky road of parenting, I have through gritted teeth ploughed through the last 5 years in a crazy haze of triumph and tribulation. When my little lion roars woe betide, hold your ears and run for cover!

Over the last 5 years of my little Hulk entering the world we have had two very good quality plasma TV’s broken, and many an expensive toy ruined, such as the full sized Buzz Light Year pretty much broken within a few days of purchase, and bought in one of those moments where you (or perhaps just us) gave in to the blitz that became him, when he catastrophically coveted what his cousin had and would not and could not get the thought of Buzz out of his mind. My husband and I went to Infinity and beyond and Toys R Us as soon as physically possible. What is more, I’ve had my fair share (or unfair share) of being punched and kicked and not to mention the scribbled walls, decorated radiators, broken stair gates, bath tub and a daily splattering of food up the walls and in the carpet. Yep, and that’s just to mention a few…I am humbly learning the art of holding material things less tightly. There really is no point in having anything precious in my house apart from people! And that is where the line is drawn and he must sit on the bottom stair and have a think about why it is wrong to hurt another human being.

Thankfully, the public meltdowns are few and far between these days but I will never forget the terrible time we had on a bus journey home one day. I can’t even remember exactly what he was enraged about (probably ice-cream related as a tank full of tears is stored in heaven on this topic) but he lay prostrate in the bus aisle at a horribly hot and busy time of day and many a grey head shook in disapproval at the apparent disobedience displayed before them. One grumpy old man tutted and spluttered that I should “give him a good smack” there and then. At this point, I pulled him up and gave him a big long hug and whispered in his ear that I would get him whatever he wanted as soon as we got off that blasted bus! I glared at the old man with eyes that said, “I will do the very opposite of your suggestion thank you very much”.

But to be honest, I have not always found it easy to be true to myself in public. The ridiculous urge to act more strict than I really am to please the people around me has sadly risen in me from time to time. It is so hard to be counter cultural and go against the overpowering expectation that children should be silenced and quick to obey and if they do not then they should be trained like dogs until they get it into their little heads.

However, I am praising God that by His gentle Spirit, I am becoming more gentle and learning to give my children the respect that they deserve, especially in the early years where it is now finally becoming more recognised and proven that developmentally children’s brains are not actually capable of empathy and impulse control (And if we are perfectly honest, this battle continues into adulthood). Sure my 4 and a half year old knows full well what is right and wrong, however when he sees red, in that very moment, I promise you come hell and high water that thinking about the consequences is far from his raging mind.

When I lose it and scream like a fish wife not only is it not a pretty sight or sound, but i’m left feeling saddened and empty and realising on reflection that if I had just dealt with the situation calmly and often in the opposite emotion to what my child is feeling then I am not only modelling to him a better way but connecting with him and helping him to help himself. Yes, I guess we can condition our children through fear of punishment but my question is, does God do this to us? Or rather does he let us suffer the natural consequences of our foolish actions? Sure He tells us what is wrong and shows us a better way, but is he aggressive or is he patient, loving and kind, always protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering, never failing?

Oh how merciful, compassionate and slow to anger is our loving God and my ultimate prayer is to parent in the way my Father in heaven parents me. He doesn’t shame me. Sure, I feel the shame, but that in turn is just a warm and open invitation to be intimate with him. I want my boys to know that no matter what they have done wrong they can turn to me and know that I have forgiven them. I don’t want them to fear punishment and retribution because I do not believe my God is a punishing God. He corrects and he connects and I will do everything i can to do the same, in passionate faith that the gift within them is being stirred.

My little Hulk is a brilliant warrior and for every demand he makes will be a man of high standards, for every uproar a zestful voice to be heard, for every argument a respectful man of his word, for every lie a man of great integrity, every distraction a brilliant perception and for every meltdown a wild and wonderful man after God’s own heart.

So what’s my point? My point is, to every parent out there that like me has felt at some time along the way like Dr Frankenstein, and gone to bed at night feeling out of your depth and in total despair at what on earth you have made, and what on earth to do with this little barbarian runing wild and pressing your every button (even the ones you didn’t know were there). My cry to you is keep going! You are doing a brilliant job! And although correction and connection is a vital tool to have to shape our little ones, let us do what our Incredible God does so well; in all His glory he sees past the rebellion and through the blood of his son He makes a masterpiece out of us.

My prayer is for our children to be seen and heard, to raise their voices and no longer be silenced. For their big feelings to be understood and for their views to be respected. We can learn so much from these little people. In fact, Jesus says be like one of these little ones because the Kingdom of God belongs to them.

Like in the words of Mary Shelley, my little Hulk with all his love and rage is a brilliant boy and will grow to be a mighty man and no power of hell will stop him.

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