by: Stephanne Morris Marsh (with inserts or is it excerpts….from Haven Floyd and Kay Morris)
So, what’s a girl to do when she has TWO stories she needs to share? I don’t want to create two separate blog posts, because one might get lost and people might not read it. And BOTH of these stories are worth knowing. Therefore, I am going to do the only logical thing I can do, I am going to put them BOTH in THIS post. I think it’s legal. Maybe. Please, bear with me and stick through to the end. I think that you will be glad that you did.
I have already shared one post about God’s confirmation and knowing I was doing exactly what He called me to do. If you missed it, you can read it here. It is the second story, entitled “There is Something About a Name.” That being said, isn’t there always room for one more confirmation, well in this instance, two? You see, people think that I am so confident and sure of myself and my calling. Perhaps, if you’ve taken the time to read any of my recent blogs and stories, then you may have seen a glimpse of the insecure Stephanne that still tries to raise (or lower) her head from time to time.
I admit, there are many, many times that I, in my humanity question if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the Ecuador mission trips year after year. Am I trying to do things in my own power? Did I create my zeal and passion for Ecuador? Or is it a God thing? Have I made it into something bigger than He wanted it to be? Have I misheard my calling? And every single year, the Lord calms those thoughts and He reaffirms to me that He alone called me. He reaffirms to me that the seeds my parents planted years ago, were not in vain. He reaffirms to me that He is in control and working in the midst of the lives of every single team member. Every single year, there is a story from the past that comes to light and brings me to my knees with the deepest of gratitude, thanking God that He took our humble gifts and multiplied them for His kingdom. Tonight, as I read this post, I sobbed. Then I tried to read it to LBJ and he cried harder than me.
Now, as I sit here, thinking and thanking Him for always, always being faithful, I was prompted to share the story I read on Facebook. Someone needs to hear that what you have done for Christ is NEVER in vain. He will always use it. You may not see it immediately, but boy when you do…be prepared to have your knees buckle as you stare in awe at the magnificence of the tapestry of the GRAND WEAVER.
Please. Keep reading the story below. You will be glad you did. ❤️🇪🇨❤️
Below is a Facebook post from Haven Floyd, Team Member, Heart for Ecuador 2020, written December 12, 2019 and shared with her permission.
I feel overwhelmed with emotion to share that I have been given the opportunity to participate in a medical missions trip to Quito, Ecuador in June 2020. Thanks to Stephanne Marsh, who has been organizing efforts to bring the people of Ecuador hope and love through medical, dental, and eye clinics for several years. Although Stephanne currently lives in North Carolina, the people of Ecuador are close and dear to the heart of her family. She grew up in Ecuador, and that’s how this all began. To learn more about Stephanne, and this effort, please visit www.heartforecuador.com.
As some of you know, I was born with underdeveloped lungs and spent almost the first month of my life in a glass isolate in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Medical University of S.C. I’ve always known that I wanted to work in the medical field, and maybe it was this early experience that draws me to want to help sick children and infants. Currently, this area of nursing is my intended field of study.
Beside me in the NICU was a set of twins born prematurely at 26 weeks. Both were on ventilators. Their mother was Hispanic, very young, all by herself, and spoke no English. None. At the time, my family’s church in Georgetown, SC had a fairly new pastor, and he came to MUSC to visit us. Coincidently (or not) he spoke Spanish, fluently. He spoke to this new mom, to ask if there was something, he could do to help her. She immediately started calling for doctors, because for the very first time she was able to learn details and ask questions about the health condition of her babies via a translator. This mother cried because she was so happy and so thankful. She had been worried that her babies were not going to live, and doctors were now able to let her know that was NOT the case. My mom STILL cries when she tells this story.
That pastor, Dr. Brad Morris, is Stephanne Morris Marsh’s father. At the time, he had moved back to the US from Ecuador, where his family had served as missionaries. Now, almost 20 years later, our paths cross again as I am blessed with this opportunity!
I need the help and support of family and friends to get there. First and foremost, please pray for me and others involved in every aspect of the “Heart for Ecuador” mission. Also, log onto the website above to find other ways to help, such as donating old reading glasses (I have a collection box for these!) Finally, if you can, please support me with a donation of $20 for a t-shirt (pictured) to help me fund my portion of this trip to Quito, Ecuador. God Bless.❤️
Here are shirt details:
Youth – M & L
Adult – S – 4XL
Color: Navy Blue
Donation – $20
(additional $4 if mailing is required)
Cash App- HavenFloyd
And now, if you have followed me and read this far, then you deserve a prize! For story # 2, I promise you will love this one, too, and it is totally worth reading. Although, you might need to get tissues. Consider yourself warned. And one last note, I promise this all ties together!
Many of the reasons that I tend to second guess and doubt myself are due to experiences that I have had over the years. I believe that is normal human nature, and I know that I know, that it is only through the strength, mercy, grace, and hand of God that I stay on the track that I do!
One thing that set me back and made me lose my identity and to be truthful, I came close to losing many other things, too, was the death of my precious mama. To be honest, 1999-2008 is a total blur. If you knew me then, I have probably already apologized to you, and if I haven’t, then please forgive me and know that I am very sorry for so many things.
I was 25 years old, Jon and I had been married almost 4 years, and Julia was 6 months old. My mama died at 46 years of age, after suffering interminably with adeno carcinoma of the lung which was induced (we believe) by the enormous amounts of volcanic ash she was exposed to in the early 1990’s living on the side of a volcano that spewed several feet of ash every single day.
There are several things about this story that I didn’t realize I was going to share until this very moment. Let’s just say that her death rocked me to the core and shook the foundation of everything I had ever believed. I was angry, I was confused, I was incredulous. How could a LOVING God let my mother, who had suffered horribly with the disease, die, just like that, when she had sacrificed her entire life in service to Him? I didn’t understand how my dad could keep pastoring a church, how can you pastor a large church without a wife? I didn’t understand why He allowed my 6-year-old sister to have to live without her mama. And I REALLY didn’t understand how He could let her die when our faith was WAAAAY bigger than a mustard seed that she would be healed, here on earth.
When I tell you that it shook me to my core, that is an understatement. I could barely stand to step foot into a church for years. What was the point? He was going to do what He wanted to anyway. In my mixed up and confused mind, my upbringing and my knowledge of the Bible kept me from totally outright going over the edge, because I was scared to deny Him out loud, because I knew that could mean I would die and go to hell! I lay awake numerous nights or awoke in a cold sweat knowing I had a lot of things to straighten out. But I would put it off, because surely a loving God wouldn’t have allowed any of this to happen.
And that my friends, is a lie I lived, and nearly 10 years of a life I all but wasted, because I believed the lies of the enemy. The things he would whisper in my ear, and thoughts he would put in my head. I got to the point where I believed that I was beyond redemption. Beyond salvation. I had taken bits and pieces of scripture out of context and twisted them so that I honestly and sincerely believed I was beyond the reach of God. I. Am. So. Intently. Grateful. None of that was true.
God is merciful. God is a God of love. God pursues us. God will leave the other 99 to come and find YOU! You are never beyond forgiveness. Nothing you have done is unforgivable. You are never out of His reach. And….HE WILL PURSUE YOU. All you have to do is call on His name. (Romans 10:13) The Bible tells us that if we look for Him with our WHOLE hearts, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)
My redemption story is sweet, a little funny, but oh, so very precious. Not long before we moved to North Carolina with LBJ’s (Laid Back Johnny aka Jon Marsh) job, I had a sleepless night and work wasn’t going well. My heart was racing, and I just knew, I was going to die and go to hell. That fear, that terror, is the worst thing I have ever experienced. I did the only thing I knew to do. I went to find a church. It was the middle of the day, on a Thursday. The first church I came to was a Catholic one. I went tiptoeing in, and was just going to sit and pray, but instead, I ran smack dab (literally ran into him) into a jolly Irish priest. Father Pat. He reached out to steady me from falling, and I stammered an apology and then burst into tears. (Seriously, it was like a movie!) He patted me on the shoulder, pulled a clean handkerchief from his cassock or robe…..whatever it is called! (I grew up Pentecostal, not Catholic), and asked me what the matter was. He led me over to a pew, and we sat down. I was crying and snotting something terrible. I somehow managed to get these words out. “I am scared I am going to die and go to hell and I don’t want to, but I don’t understand God, and I might be a little bit mad at Him.” I will never, ever forget the look of compassion that stole over Father Pat’s face. With his thick Irish brogue, he asked me, “Do ya be a knowin’ who Jesus is?” I assured him that I did. He asked me to tell him who I thought Jesus was. So I told him something very close to this, “I believe Jesus was the Son of God, born of a miraculous virgin birth, that he was crucified for my sin and that of all mankind, and that he died, was laid in a tomb and three days later he arose again, where after a while, he ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of Father God and that he will come back to take his church to heaven and to judge those who didn’t accept him.” Whew!
Father Pat smiled, and said, “Ya do be aknowin’ Him.” I sat in silence, because I wasn’t sure what to do next. Then he said, “You know about Him. But do you KNOW Him?” I was stumped. He then went on to say, “because if you KNEW Him, you wouldn’t be having these fears.”
We talked for several hours that day. I explained what I thought, and Father Pat gently and patiently corrected my twisted take on scripture. I left that day, breathing. We met together multiple times over the next few months. He told me I was a firecracker and he surely didn’t want me coming to any of his Bible studies, and he meant that in the most loving way. I found Jesus in the most unlikely of places, but I was desperate. And Jesus was so very kind and forgiving and He met me there and healed my heart. I have been getting to know Him BETTER, every single day since.
So, my dear reader, I told you all of that because you needed that background knowledge so that you can understand the post I am about to share with you. You see, 4 years ago, my daddy met and married the most wonderful woman, Kay. She is beyond precious to me and our family, and honestly, I couldn’t have picked out a better woman to pick up where my mama left off if I could have chosen from any woman in the world. You cannot convince me that God Himself didn’t hand-select her for our family. Shortly after they were married, I asked her if I could remove “step” from our relationship on Facebook. That word had such a negative connotation and I love sweet Kay so much more than that! I bestowed upon her the title of “Gift-Mother” in one of my Facebook posts, and it has stuck. Kay is the best Gift-Mother in the world. Just ask me or my sisters. We will tell you.
In His time, God fulfills and completes what is necessary so that we can complete the work He has given us to do. I believe that the gift of Kay to our family was the good Lord’s nod of affirmation that we were to continue doing what He called us to do. You see, Kay loves Ecuador as much as I do. But here, I will let you read it in her own words:
Facebook Post from Kay Morris, Friday, December 13, 2019
When I first met Brad, little did I know how my life would change. I’m not just talking about my first pair of blue jeans or riding on a Harley. Before I met him, I’d never traveled anywhere, except the beach or mountains or family visits to Texas and Michigan. And then we were married and before I knew it, I was on a plane to Ecuador. From the very first moment my feet touched the ground in Quito, I felt like I was HOME.
Growing up as a Southern Baptist, I’d learned all about missionaries but never envisioned myself going beyond the confines of my “little world”. Missionaries were different, especially called by God, and I imagined they already had their halos.
Fast forward to today when we’re planning to return to Ecuador in June with an eager and committed medical missions’ team. I’m so excited to go and serve and wish that I could adequately describe the people there. They are genuine and beautiful and worshiping with them is like a glimpse into heaven. On my first trip I quickly learned that there are no language barriers when it comes to experiencing God’s love.
We will be ministering to grandparents, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who will walk miles to see a doctor or get a pair of free glasses. Supplies of medicine and used eyeglasses are already being gathered. Loving hands are making yarn dolls to help put smiles on little faces and lessen the fear of seeing a doctor for the first time. There will be laughter, tears, tired bodies and joyful hearts. And most important of all there will be a weary mom, a little child, or an ailing grandmother who will see Jesus through the face of a kind stranger, a “missionary” if even for a week, who wants them to experience the peace and joy that only He can give.
So, in addition to traveling with the team to Ecuador, another way I can give is through my heARTworks. All of the proceeds are going to help support this mission effort. I hope you’ll take a look at what we have left and “ready to go” and think about someone who might enjoy a heARTworks, especially knowing that it’s all going to bring hope and spread the good news of God’s love. Most of all we covet your prayers for the team of almost 60, eagerly awaiting our June trip.
And that my friends, is what I wanted you to see. God is faithful. God always confirms, and God always puts exactly who He wants and who you NEED in your life. Sometimes, you are even lucky enough to have two confirmations in the same week. He did it for me, and I know He can and will, do it for you.
Oh, and just because this has been a little heavier of a post than normal, I want to leave you with a tiny piece of advice.
When you grab your coffee cup to go get a refill, and then sling your water bottle under your arm to make a trip downstairs, perhaps you should ensure that the cap to the water bottle isn’t sitting on the desk.
There are lots of other things I could say about this, but let’s just say a 1/4 of a bottle of water can wreak more havoc than you realize. Perhaps I was a little too exuberant in my slinging. 🤷♀️😳🤷♀️ Or maybe that it was that I was eager to write this blog.