Peaking Through the Clouds

Guest Blogger: Brian Stortz

Have you ever experienced pain in your life?  Maybe it was grief that came with the loss of a loved one or some disheartening news from a boss about the future of your job.  Maybe it was a dreaded diagnosis from a family physician.  Either way, the storm clouds can come into our lives without warning and our hearts can ache.

For those of you who do not live in Florida or who have not kept up with the weather, we have been experiencing the storm bands of tropical storm Isaac all day.  They can be very sporadic with the sun shinning one minute and it pouring so hard the next that if a frog opens his mouth, he could drown.  While the weather can have a mind of its own and be unpredictable at times, I believe we can also relate its behavior to our own lives.

The clouds give way to tears and it appears that our world is falling apart.  We cry out to God and ask Him to save us. We feel better and the sun begins to come out in our lives, sometimes momentarily. Then suddenly we remember the loss or the news and another band of storms comes rolling through.  This cycle can continue making us feel as if there is no hope; as if we won’t make it in this life.  When we are in a storm, all is dark around us and it appears as if the rain engulfs us for miles and miles.  However what we can’t see, which can be seen on a radar image, is that just around the corner is the sun!  It is ready to peak its warm glowing head out of the clouds and illuminate our lives.

The Psalmist also faced such circumstances and wrote the words found in Psalms 30:5b “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  What situation are you facing today?  Does it seem that the dark clouds have overtaken you and that rain is coming down all around you?  Do you feel that you are drowning and no one cares?  Just remember that despite the darkness of the clouds, God still hears our cry and rescues us.  Psalm 145:19 says “He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.”  Know that He will part the clouds and just around the corner the sun will be bursting through!


Would you marry that guy if you knew that a few years into your marriage, he would have cancer and  years after that your son would have it, too? Would you let your child go to that college knowing that in her senior year, she would be shot dead? 

When Paul was heading to Jerusalem,  not once, but twice he was urged not to go to there because they knew he would be bound and imprisoned. But instead of listening to the advice of these credible people, he chose to go, telling them that he wasn’t only ready to be imprisoned, but he was even ready to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord (Acts 21:1-14).

As a follower of Christ, I would like to say I would do anything for Him! Lately though, I have been asking myself; “What does my anything look like?” I mean, I have gone to another country, have experienced discomfort and hardship…all in the name of the Lord, but my anything still has limits.

The past few days I have been praying and thinking of our (highly potential) move to Alabama and the difficulties that we may face living in a small southern town. Although something I feel that is needed in order for Jake and I to continue on our walk with the Lord, God has been lifting the veil and showing me that it’s not going to be easy.

I do not believe that anything will happen to us by going to Alabama, but the point is, would we still go, if we knew that something was going to happen? 

Too often, we don’t do a lot of things or discourage friends and families from doing a lot of things because of fear. We fear for those who go to other countries because it may not be safe. We fear for our children when we they want to spend the night at a friend’s house. We even fear driving in certain neighborhoods because of the danger that is perceived. We shouldn’t fear the world. We should be cautious of the world and fear God!!!

He is the Creator of the Universe. He is the One who designed your path, your steps! He has a GREAT plan for you and it may not include laying down your life for Him, but imagine if you lived like it did? Nothing would stop you from doing anything for Him!

A Man in the Making

You walk more confidently. Your prayers are more intentional and heartfelt. You speak of God and hear Him when He speaks to you. I was hoping I could go back to sleep after dropping you off at school this morning, but I just couldn’t stop thinking of the young man you are becoming right before my eyes.

I give Glory to Your Father for the growth you have made in the past 2 months. Yes, they have been huge and instrumental, but you wouldn’t be where you are today if it wasn’t for the steps in obedience you have taken thus far. Your first step was when you felt Him tug your heart at the age of 10 and you chose to surrender your heart to him. That first step was the easiest.  The struggles of being a teenager and the son of a single mother have been hard; you have stumbled and fallen short, but your heart has remained faithful and honoring to your parents.

I hope you know much I love you and will always strive to be the best mother I can to you, but I pray that you do not lean on me, for I am imperfect and will fail you more often than I would want to even think of. But your Father…your Dad, will ALWAYS be there for you!! He will NEVER fail you! He has such a perfect plan for you and as long as you continue to pursue Him and listen for His voice, you will not go wrong.

As you walk in obedience and continue to flesh out His calling on your life, do not look back or even to your sides. There will be people who will question what you have heard. People who will doubt your abilities and your character for such a calling, but remain strong in the Truth you have heard and in the One who has spoken it to you! Remain strong in His Word, which is the only way you will be able to proceed as He has willed for you! Your Father and I couldn’t be more proud of you! We love you!

Walking Softly

No step laid down by Him is ever laid in vain. He has  a purpose for every step, therefore, every step should be taken intentionally and carefully!

I learned from the potential move to Guatemala that I need to solely rely on the Lord to guide my steps. Running ahead and making my own plans will only prolong everything. Plus, if I am running, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery He placed before me or see how He has carefully crafted each step to not only bring me comfort and peace, but also to bring Him glory. On the other hand, if I sit and wait for Him to do something, I may lose the opportunity to share with Him in the journey or possibly lose the opportunity all together.

It has been a week since Jake and I got back to Florida and the sentiments of my last post still ring true; we do not feel like we are “home” yet. Feelings of disconnect and discomfort are often common for people who have gone on an international mission trip. Even a week away can give you feelings of disconnect and discomfort when you return. So, being away for 2 months and having these feelings can easily be explained. However, this feels slightly different from all of that. It feels like ties are being cut.

As most of you know, Jake and I met an amazing team from Thomasville Baptist Church (and 2 other AL churches) while in Guatemala. The ties and connections we made with them can only be explained by saying it was a God thing. Ever since that week, both Jake and I have felt like the Lord was leading us to Thomasville.

The decision is not definite nor is being made lightly so as I continue to pray over this decision, I find myself walking softly, not running or sitting still, but allowing God to orchestrate it all. For the first time ever, Jake and I are both in agreement and are ready to go wherever the Lord leads…afterall, our bags are still packed! 🙂

Jake and I will be visiting Thomasville, AL for Labor Day weekend. Jake will get to go to Six Flags with the Thomasville Baptist Church youth group, while I spend some time in fellowship and prayer.


I am continually amazed at how God can change hearts in a short amount of time. Yet, if He wanted to, He could change anyone in a second. I am glad He chooses the slower route, so He can walk with us!

We have been back for about 5 days and although our surroundings are familiar, nothing feels like home. We are still living out of suitcases and living in someone else’s home. We are so appreciative of the encouragement, support and prayers we have received. We are so grateful for the welcome back gifts that will definitely help us as we seek God in our next steps.

I have learned not to doubt Him (as much) or His plans for us, but I wonder when will we be home? To the home He has for Jake and I. To the home He has been holding and keeping for us.

I keep thinking so many things have changed, but really it has been us who have been changed! 

Cornerstone – Day 57

She dreaded the task, but it had to be done. Packing again. It felt like she just had done this, but here she was again. Trying to organize her life in a suitcase and 2 carry-ons. She could put it off until later, but it would be better to just get it over with and then relax.

As she packed, she remembered all that she had experienced these past 8 weeks. The hard times, the good times, the AMAZING times!! Every step of the way, although some shaky moments, she couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to be on this journey. She wondered if the one thing she desired was accomplished; had he changed.

His hair was shorter. He was definitely taller, but had his heart changed? It’s hard to read teenagers, they are so ornery and plain annoying at times. You never know what is going on in that mush of a brain of theirs, but she prayed as she had all 8 weeks. “Oh, Lord, speak to him! Change him! Do whatever it takes. I place him in Your hands.”

As she prayed those words, she remembered Abraham and Isaac. “Am I willing to place my son on the altar and sacrifice him if that was what You asked of me? Is that what You are asking of me?” She cried out in anguish knowing that in order for him to be the man God created and the man she desired him to be there would have to be 2 sacrifices made; one by him and the other by her.

She knew the only way she could be of an encouragement to him, would be for her to take the first step. “Lord, I know I’m not perfect and I have tried to do my best, but I…” Before she could finish her thought, the words cut her like a knife. I don’t want YOUR best, I want MY best.

Once again she had been living to her own standards and making her own plans, worse off, raising her son to those very same standards and plans. “What a failure I have…” Please do not talk about my daughter like that. His words once again cutting in. You forget who I am. I have not forsaken you nor have I allowed anything that I could not use in his life for My glory. As your life has been predestined, so has his. Be grateful for what you call failures, I am using as the cornerstones in the great work I have  designed for him. 

The words provided some comfort. She was aware of the changes in both of them. She knew that all that had been accomplished thus far was by the grace of God, and not by her own works. She realized that even if she (or anyone else for that matter) didn’t notice all the changes in him, the Lord had and that is all that mattered. So, instead of dwelling on what she could have done better, she continued packing…knowing full well more opportunities for “cornerstones” to be laid would be coming up and this time they wouldn’t be made up of her “failures”.

Mi Zacapa – Day 55

The shower was always freezing. The days were always scorching. The A/C was lacking. But leaving Zacapa this morning was so hard. I could barely keep my composure as we drove out of the city that has been our home for 2 months. I have been so consumed with what is to come when we arrive in Florida on Wednesday, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that always rush over me when I prepare to leave Guatemala.

God has been so gracious to us and has shown us so much during the past 2 months. He continues to reveal His work in us even in days that, to me, should be uneventful. For example, showing me that I still continue to plan when I should know better by now. He has also shown me the characteristics He wishes to develop and those He wishes to reshape in me. And how to appreciate and place Jake as the priority in my life that He needs to be.

We are now in Guatemala City for the next few days until we fly out on Wednesday afternoon, so it just means I will have another day of heartbreak as I once again leave this beautiful country. When I left this past November, I knew I would be coming back and the estimated time frame of that return, but this time I am not sure. I know the Lord has more work for me here and I know the relationships I have built this time will only flourish as the others in past trips have. God still has plenty of work to do in our lives; the next few weeks and months will determine alot. I just pray wherever He leads, Zacapa isn’t too far away!

My Soul Still Sings – Day 54

Weeping may last for the night (or a day or 2), but a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b (comment mine)

The past few days have brought on a very real spiritual attack on my heart, mind and body. I felt sick, lost and, literally at times, found it difficult to breathe. I kept referring to the decisions that are to come as uncertainties, but when I am walking with the Lord, there are no uncertainties, only hope. Despite the full-fledged attack by the enemy trying to shake me at this time, my heart still sang a song (2 actually)…

10,000 Reasons
Bless the Lord, O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
Lord, I’ll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

My foes are many, they rise against me
But I will hold my ground
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding
My soul will rest in You
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
From You Lord, from You Lord

Hope of Life – Day 51

I could’ve held her forever, but I knew the longer I held her, the harder it would be to let her go…When I walked in the baby room, there were 5 or 6  cribs across the back wall and she stood there in her crib; the last one in the far left corner.

Nap time had just ended and all the other babies were out of their cribs eating their apple slice. Once she noticed she was the only left in her crib, she began to cry. Without even asking if it was okay, I rushed over and offered to pick her up. She outstretched her arms and I was hooked.

After holding her for more than 15 minutes, I saw her precious smile appear. In one hand, she had her slice of apple while she held a small ball against her chubby belly with the other. She was so excited when Jake brought over the small ball for her to play with and I was so excited just to be holding her. Miriam is around 12-14 months; no one was sure of her age, but it didn’t matter, her Mayan large eyes were mesmerizing. Most kids have been in the Hope of Life Orphanage all of their lives, so not knowing the full details of how they got there or when they were born isn’t a strange thing.

I have always had a desire to adopt and my love for Guatemala is so great, I can only imagine adopting from here. However, international adoption is closed due to the amount of child trafficking that has occurred; only locals are able to adopt. That doesn’t seem like an issue right now since, let’s be honest, I am in no position to be adopting a baby. But if the Lord has placed it on my heart, He will make it happen! There are so many things I don’t know, but the few things I do know, I have such confidence my God will fulfill them.