Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Thankful Heart


It’s 5:30 am and I sit with a steamy cup of hot co-co by my side sipping occasionally in-between the words I type. This is early for me to be awake…especially for a Saturday, but sleep eludes my restless soul this early morn. I have felt discouraged lately, a little beaten down, but even in the midst of these seemingly negative times I still praise my Lord and thank him for all the different feelings and emotions. I do have so much to be thankful for because God has so generously blessed my family and I.

It is so easy to focus on the things we desire to have instead of being content with what has already been given to us. I need to be very thankful for my good health and the good health of my husband and children. I am thankful for my daughter’s Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning Autism). Even though the diagnosis of this social disorder brought great sadness and its own set of challenges, I wouldn’t change my daughter. I love her and the way God made her. I call her, “God’s girl”, and understand that she and my boys are an entrusted gift to me from God to take care of and raise for the Lord. They are all His children first before they were my children. I am thankful for my husband, our home, our cars, our pets, good friends, our church, God’s Word, and Jesus. I am grateful that I live in this great country, The United States of America, where we can freely choose and live out our faith. I am thankful for music not only because I love to listen to it, but because my oldest son loves to play his instruments. I am thankful for the abundance of food which most of us take for granted in America. The list could go on, but I leave you with this Psalm..

Psalm 100

A psalm for giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Joy of Praise

I often think about home. I don’t mean where I grew up when I was a child. When I talk about home, I am talking about heaven…my final home. I dream of it and wonder just what it might be like. I long for the streets of gold and the tree of life…where I can’t wait to meet my lovely grandmother Bowser, embrace her, and whisper in her ear again the words, “I love you.” Sometimes I just close my eyes for long periods of time when all is quiet around me and imagine the day I will meet my best friend and Savior Jesus. What I would hear, what I would smell, see, touch and taste? It makes me happy, brings joy, and a smile upon my face. I always have something good to look forward to each day.

But some days when joy eludes my restless soul, because of circumstances which surround me… my mind jumps off track and I become derailed.  I forget the hope of heaven and become swept up in a tornado of emotions I would rather not have and choices I wish I didn’t have to make. Sometimes the trials of life are so burdensome, I will actually ask the Lord, “Could you just come today?”

It is in these times of crisis I crave a little quiet, close my eyes, and think about my Abba. I just crawl up into His lap and sit awhile with Him. His embrace is the best bear hug I’ve ever had…his gentleness is most amazing. The tears flow without a word spoken from my lips and somehow I am reassured all is well because my God still sits on the throne. I am soothed by the whispers of the Holy Spirit which bids me to turn my eyes to Jesus and remind me how sweet it is to trust in His name. Praise begins to utter from my lips and the problems that just moments ago seemed so great are now pushed to the background. I become reassured God will take care of all my needs. My hands then feel the leather of the book upon my lap…God’s word…the Bible…rests on the creases of my clothes. I open purposely to the Psalms. These precious words of song and poetry lift my soul even more and my voice breaks out with song unto the Lord.


“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to
God a sacrifice of praise
the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

~Hebrews 13:15

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's Your Outcome?


When someone offends you or you dislike the actions of another, what is your first reaction? In situations such as these I find myself quickly stirred to anger as I carry prideful justice on my shoulders. It’s so much easier to judge then to be judged.

God has been at work…hard work…in my life as of late to help smooth some rough edges from around my heart. I don’t know about you, but I hate the sound of an emery board on finger nails or sandpaper on a rough surface. This process has made me cringe in horror of my actions as God readies my heart for a deeper shade of His mercy, grace, and love.
How is God working to help me discover this new path…this new way of thinking and change? Here has been the equation…

Bible study on James + prayer and quiet moments = revelation and contrite heart

After last night’s Bible study session, six words kept whispering within…What’s your outcome going to be? It is a question I want permanently embedded within my mind. When I am faced with people and situations that stir my soul to anger…in that moment…I have a choice. Do I want to choose to spew myself out with angry words and end in guilt and remorse for my unchristian example? Or, will I be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1: 19-20) and thus choose the Christ like way to respond so I can be a better witness to Jesus in me…the hope of glory!
I need to look beyond what is in front of me and realize my words and actions could have a far more reaching effect in the heavenly realms if I love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:39) rather than doing what feels right in the moment.
So, what’s your outcome going to be?

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Roll with Jesus

I have had a lot of time this week between the walls of my home as I tended to the needs of my sick children. Occasionally, I would slip outside and sit in my country yellow chair, with a mug of coffee in hand, and Bible under my arm. It was the only time I really had to myself.


I just love to sit and be surrounded by nature and watch, touch, and listen to all God's creation. It is when I sense the closeness of God the most...as if His breath is upon my shoulder. In this stillness, my heart opens wide to capture the sweet whispers of the Holy Spirit tug on my heartstrings and stir my soul to peace and calm. The more I sit in quietness, the greater I crave for more of this precious solitude alone with my Abba. When it is time for me to rise and get on with the day He has given..
I roll with Jesus...and not my own selfish desires. Praise God!

"Come near to God and He will come near to you."
~James 4:8




Monday, September 19, 2011

I Press On

I have been a work in progress now for over 45 years since the time my heavenly Father began to knit me together in my mother’s womb, to  the first breath my infant lungs, until now…a wife of nearly 20 years and mother of three beautiful gifts from God above.

In this time of growing, God continually presses the wrinkles of life out of my heart. Yet in each stroke of the refining iron, a pressed out wrinkle reveals deep pain. In the depths of the creased pain, there is sorrow, oppression, guilt, unworthiness, and a critical spirit just to name a few.  I am sure there are many more wrinkles that have come with time which I am totally unaware of or see in my life. I am after all a sinful human being, but that is exactly why I know I need Jesus.

The more I fold the pain over in my heart, the easier it is to convince myself it isn’t there. But God sees everything and God knows everything. I haven’t hidden one thing from Him. I have just ignored what needs tended to in my heart because it was the easy way out. But I know this life was not meant to be easy. It is never a pain free walk in the park when you know Jesus.  Not because God causes the pain and suffering…it is our own sin which causes our afflictions or the sin of others. And it is in these trials and troublesome occasions we become more like Christ when we choose to seek His face and not His hand.


Dear Heavenly Father,
In the depth of my doubt, pain, and fear…reveal to me your holiness that in my weakness I would be made strong through the power of your precious blood shed for me!
~Amen

Sunday, September 11, 2011

James Brian Rielly - 9/11 Tribute

His gentle hands dipped down to the mother’s arms to pick up the swaddled baby. The closer baby Katherine came toward his body the broader his smile. He would hold his goddaughter’s head in the crook of his elbow and look upon her with adoration, coo to her, and stroke her soft cheek with the tip of his index finger. The smile and the love Uncle Jimmy rained on Katherine will never be forgotten.

James Brian Rielly was on the 89th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit the north tower at 8:46 am on September 11, 2001. He called his two room mates and his father to let them know all was well with him. But unbeknownst to James, a second plane, United Flight Airlines 175, was in flight and slammed into the South Tower at 9:02 am on national television for the world to watch with astonishment, shock, and awe. James Brian Rielly, the young, bright, 25 year old bond trader who worked for Keefe, Bruyette, and Woods was never heard from again.

I did not know James Rielly, but today I remember him and the young life that was lost this day ten years ago. May we all remember those lives that were cut short that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for those today who are still grieving the loss of a friend or family member who's death was sadly brought upon them on this day ten years ago. Please hold them close beneath the shelter or your loving arms and let peace arise in their heart amidst the heart ache and pain. Please shed a full measure of your grace and blessings to the hurting souls who mourn in remembrance of this day.
~Amen

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Soul Finds Rest in God Alone

I have been a bit flat on my feet lately in my spiritual walk. I realized about a week ago I had put other persons and other things as a higher priority than God. I know…I know…how could I let this happen. But it did and God had to wrap me upside my head…shake me up a bit…allow me to have a pity party and wallow in my tears for a while. And now, well, I think I’m on the upswing of an attitude check God ordained.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just walk away from God. I mean…I still prayed, read his Word (occasionally when time allotted), and tried to walk a Christ like life, but it’s hard to live this Christian life if Christ is not the center. I had Jesus way over to the left I think…somewhere…and my eyes could not see Him in front of me because I had left the starting gate without Him.

Since my discovery of senseless living, I have sorrowfully…on my knees…asked my Savior for forgiveness.  In my many conversations with the Lord after this moment, I realize just how much I have missed Him and the peace He alone can give a God chaser heart. Life is better with Him rather than dismal attempts to go it alone. If I could only just remember, I was made by God for God. Not by God to fulfill my desires. So I’m taking the time to seek His face and not His hand. I want His love, grace, and mercy to soak the deepest parts of my soul, because only in Him will my soul find rest as I walk this journey called life. So I leave you with this scripture…

Psalm 61

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
4 Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.[b]

5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amy Sockaci

Every once in awhile I check out my hometown newspaper on-line and get caught up on stories and people from where I grew up. I check the front page first and next move to the obituaries. I know it sounds morbid, but it’s at the top of the list under “your news” and then I proceed to births, engagements, and marriages. But today I never made it past the obituaries.
 My breath was taken away at the sight of a beautiful 2 year old blonde girl who died. It didn’t say how she died, but when her obituary was followed by her 34 year old father, I came to know it was a horrific, car accident. The mother was also in the car, but survived with only a concussion. How tragic as tears swelled in my eyes and I wondered how the mother could deal with such grief. I prayed for her instantly even though I don’t know her.
But the obituary that made me think the most was this one of Amy Sockaci, a young woman

only 32 years old. It was her smile that drew me to read the full obituary. I urge each one of you to “click” on her name and also read it and think…really think about what is said. And then when you finish reading it you should go here, architectureamy.blogspot.com , and read her last post on July 7th, 2011.
You never know when your last day on this earth will be. I hope it makes you think about life as much as it made me today!

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us all to realize that life is short and we need to make the most of each day living to glorify you! Help us all to give one more hug, one more kiss, and say one more "I love you"...to our family and friends. For we know not the hour which you will call us or a loved one home.
~Amen 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Prayer Tonight


I love you Lord and I hope you know how much I love you. Some may think it silly and futile that I put so much weight and worth in one single man who I refer to as my first love and my best friend. And even though I have been a bit mad at you lately, I still remain your child…whom you love endlessly… despite my faults, sins, and imperfections. I am thankful for this love for without it, I would have never known its true meaning.  

I’ve been sad lately. My heart aches for so many different reasons …oh yeah…I forgot…you already know everything. But I don’t understand and I’m trying real hard to just trust you. I know it may not seem like it when I try to fix things or want an answer now and not wait for you to reveal your perfect plan. And the voices that tell me I’m not worth much, I’m no good, no one likes me, you’ll never be anything…Lord please take them away and remind me always that I am somebody because I am your child hand made by you.
I am lonely. ..lonely because of my own hang ups…I don’t trust others well because of all that stuff that happened when I was younger…oh yeah…I forgot…you already know. I know you gave me the mom and dad I have because you needed traits from both of them to make the person you made in me to do the work you prepared in advance for me to do. But I’m tired of trying to figure it all out. Do you think you could just help me find some rest? Please lead me back to your faithful arms and embrace me with your nail pierced hands that I might smell the sweet scent of your robe and smile once again.
I know your Word tells me that you make all things beautiful in your time…so help me be patient and wait on you. In the mean time, let me thirst for your Word and enjoy quiet moments with you as you begin to heal my hurt heart. Thank you my faithful friend and Father.
Love,
Your beloved daughter,
Shannon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Healing Rain

I was out on a walk this morning.  The sky was not the clearest as rain clouds hovered overhead and the sun refused to shine, but it was one of the most refreshing walks I have had in a great while. The air was slightly cool and half way through my paced footsteps a lazy rain began to fall. The drops were gentle upon my skin. There was no way I could avoid even one drop from the air and with each tap of the rain I was reminded of God’s awesome presence in my life.

Life can throw us unexpected curve balls. Where we thought we were going to be doesn’t seem to be where we end up. It is unsettling at best for a planner like me who thrives on order and not chaos. But God is funny; he likes to shuffle the deck of cards so we don’t get to comfortable in one spot and he throws us out there on the table seemingly all alone. But really we are never alone and just like those raindrops we cannot avoid his presence, power, and lavish love. He puts us out there sometimes because He misses us and needs to pull us away from the unimportant tasks of “doing” to just simply “being” with him. He longs to love us and to hear our voice speak to him…the voice he created.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

~John 3:30





Thursday, July 28, 2011

When the Rooster Crows

God is up to something…He always is up to something, but for some reason in the midst of the doings of everyday life I feel as though I can see him weave meticulously the direction of my life. It wouldn’t be obvious to some, but to others with the intent on a day to day basis to see God smile and cry…I sense his sweet nudge to press on.

I have had too many “roosters crowing” in my ear. You remember the story…Peter denies Jesus thrice and the rooster crows. I am sure well after the famous incident in which Peter wept bitterly over, every time he heard a rooster crow thereafter, he was reminded of his sin. And I am sure like all humans; he felt shameful once again…beat himself up again…and wondered why he did such a thing…again. Does this sound familiar? This guilt is nothing but Satan…the father of lies…as he tries to convince us we are no good and despicable unworthy souls. It’s one of his best tools to make us drop our heads in shame and feel as though we cannot do the work of God set before us. But remember…

Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world…

                                                         ~I John 4:4

In this world you will have trouble

But take heart…Christ has overcome the world!

                             ~John 16:33

When you hear the rooster crow and it tells you you’re insignificant, no good, unable, and unworthy…speak these scriptures out loud and be ye thankful unto the Lord. Christ alone will take the negative away and fill your cup with joy and love. And don’t take for granted those God has placed in your life…it is not by accident…not by chance…but his intent to use these God chasers to help you along your journey. Never go it alone!  

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you today and ask that anyone who has read this and is struggling

 within in their mind that you would make things clear for them.

 Help them to realize just how special they are to you.

After all, you breathed them into life and care more for them than anyone else.

Lord, please let them take the time to sit awhile with you in prayer and reading your Word…

let them thirst and hunger for you like never before.

 I ask that you fill their cup this day with your peace and grace so they might know they are loved by the mighty and great I AM!

~Amen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Held

When is the sacred torn from your life? Maybe for some this statement might mean the loss of a child. Maybe to others a divorce you didn’t expect and yet others maybe a chronic health issue that keeps you from being what you once were. It’s like a thorn pushed deep within your flesh and just when you think you have learned to walk with that depth of pain…something or someone comes along and hits the thorn causing greater anguish and reminding us how human we are and just how much we need Jesus.


Sometimes for me the thorn embeds so deeply within my heart…it seems permanent…irremovable…and everlasting. The grief is overwhelming and the desperation leaves my mind spinning as I wonder how I overcome the pain.

And then it happens…

somewhere in the midst of the fog which forbids me to see my own hand in front of me…

out of nowhere…

I feel His amazing touch.

It is unmistakable, warm, and lovely in every way.

And soon even though I can’t see my hand I see his nail pierced palm, as his finger which made the very stars I see in the night sky, wipe my fragile tears away. He soothes my sadden soul and bids me to come close and sit awhile with Him. He hums familiar hymns like Amazing Grace and soon I hear the words whispered gentle in perfect pitch. My forever friend…Jesus… comforts me like none other. He never…never…never…turns away from me. He stays right by my side, down in the trenches of my wretched sin with his hand outstretched just waiting…waiting to hold me in his loving arms. This is how I know what it is like to be held…to be loved unconditionally…and know my Jehovah-Shalom…the Lord of my Peace.

Thank you my best friend and first love…your beloved daughter Shannon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Heaven...I Can Only Imagine ~ MercyMe w/ London Symphony Orchestra



I love to dream about heaven. It brings such peace to my soul as I let my imagination roar as a lion. Heaven will be all the sweet things that I see…rainbows, butterflies, the smiles of my children, blue skies, sun, birds, the array of beautiful colors seen in the flowers, and the dew upon the grass. Heaven will be all the sweet things I smell…apple pie baking in the oven, the fragrance of a fresh rain, the lilacs in bloom, my children as babies, and the unique smell of grandmas home. Heaven will be all the sweet things I touch…holding my child’s hand, the kiss of my husband’s lips upon mine, the hug between family and friends, the wind felt on my face, the sand between my toes. Heaven will be all the sweet things I hear…birds singing, my children laughing, the breeze fluttering the leaves, the rhythm of the ocean breaking onto the shore, and music of any kind. Heaven is the taste of all I love…chocolate, pizza, fine wine, homemade ice tea, and of course coffee!

All these things I am sure will be in heaven, yet heaven will also be so much more. Peace will abound and sorrow will be extinct. The only tears I think you will see are those of pure joy. The music will be absolutely outstanding. I hope to talk with those I have only read about like John, Paul, Peter, and Esther. I will see those I have missed so dearly…my grandma Bowser and many more. It will be fellowship, celebration, and jubilant hearts. The souls of all who enter His gates will be so full of praise for the one and only…Jesus! The streets of gold will shine, but I can’t wait to walk the winding river and sit under the tree of life and bask in the presence of His holiness. But the one thing I long for most is to meet my best friend Jesus and clean His feet with the tears of joy from my eyes and dry them with the locks of my hair. I hope He knows just how much I love Him and long to see Him! Yes, heaven is the place a long to be. It will be my final home forever more!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just Give Me Jesus

The question I ask myself as of late…

“Can I see the reflection of myself within the gaze of my Father’s eyes?”

Maybe this might seem like an odd question because really who actually sees Jesus…face to face…and behold the Son of God? I would gander to say probably not many and I would think this a rare occurrence which God does not permit on a daily basis. But then again…maybe I’m wrong. Maybe God does let us see his Son face to face but we are to busy “doing” and we miss His gaze upon us, His smiles, and maybe even the touch of His finger tap upon our shoulder. We have our agenda planned and in order to feel accomplished we need to get it done.

I think maybe the Holy Spirit has placed this question upon my heart. It’s a conversation within me that goes something like this…

“Shannon…sit awhile…be calm…rest in the Great I am. Don’t be so busy and plan your day. What if you just don’t plan anything and see what God has planned for you today? You never know where He’s going to take you. Think of it as a grand walk in the park with Christ. It will be just you and Him with your hand within His nail pierced palm. You will see so much more than if you walk alone. You will gaze upon the flowers…and He will have all your favorites to view…the fragrance will sing of His love and grace. And maybe He will choose to add some friends that He just knows you will fill with hope and cheer. But maybe Jesus just wants your hands to toil not for your own gratitude, but in rhythm with His making a nice meal for a family. The possibilities are endless and the breath of life unto your soul refreshing.”

Just give me Jesus. He is all I need!

Lord Jesus, please help me this day to just bask in your love. Allow my mind to think of you every moment of this day. I want you to be a part of everything I do. I don’t want to leave you at the front door step waving goodbye and sad because I once again forgot about you. All the while you never leave me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your endless love for this sinner’s soul! I just want you to know how precious you are to me and I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings by choosing to go it alone. I need you Jesus!
 Amen.












Monday, May 30, 2011

7 x 70

I rested my eyes upon the Old Victorian for the last time. I will never return until the day my father is called home. The once pristine house full of character and charm is nothing but a shell of old brittle bones. It was a very sad site for my eyes to behold, but sadder yet the true reality of a person who grieves the precious Holy Spirit. I am afraid for my dad who will not heed to the reigns of the Spirit and makes me question if he indeed truly received Jesus as Lord of his life. I walked away angry, ashamed, and with ultimatums posed to my dad from his only daughter he once called “sweetie pie”. My heart is so sad and I wonder how much more my heart must endure the lies and untruths. I am tired and full of grief. I ask my God, “Why?” But I know the answer only will be found in one word…forgive…again. God will pick up my heart again and lift my feet from the ground and dance with me and hold me close for awhile. I will be o.k…this I know because my Abba has promised me. But if you read this, I just ask that you would please say a short prayer for my dad. I know God does answer prayer and weeps with me on behalf of my dad.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Were You There - Selah

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things!

All of my memorable momentos make for all the things I love and enjoy the most and make a wonderful display on the side table of my bed.
I love mixing it up when I decorate. In the midst of the rainy spring day a little cleaning and deocrating was happening at my home. The old chennel bedspread I found in mint condition for $13.00 at an antique market. You catch a glimpse of one of the many quilts my mother-in-law Ida made for us. I finally put some pictures of my kids on the wall, but think I need to paint the frames silver instead of gold (another weekend project). I just love the items I put on my bed side table...take a closer look!

The little white lamp I got at a garage sale for $2.00!!! I love black and white photos of my family. The pictured here is of my husband and my youngest son Samuel at the age of two at our Myrtle Beach vacation.
The shells and feathers were collected by my children on the shores in the Hamptons where we spent Thanksgiving 2009 with my husband's brother Andy.
A book I received as a gift from my dear friend and sister in Christ, Julie Krukow from DeWitt, IA


  
I recieved this cross after speaking on piety at a CEW retreat at St. Jospeh's in DeWitt, IA



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yahweh

I sat quietly on the couch as the thunder clad and the lightening flashed in the night sky. It made me think about the power of God. But at the same time, rain came down hard and the drops seemed to race down the window panes trickling in a fashion which reminded me of His great peace in the midst of the storm. It is only our God...Yahweh...who can sprout joy from beneath the dirt and despair of grief, depression, and angst. He never leaves nor forsakes us, but encamps around us pitching His tent of grace and glory to protect us from the storm. He stands firm against the schemes of the evil one and asks only that we continue to praise him and have joy despite the battle which rages around us. We must remember that in Christ's death the victory over sin and death has already been won.

"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them."
~Psalm 34:7



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soul Freedom

The walls I built,
Around my heart,
Made of glass,
Were made of glass,
Where lillies grow,
and never bloom.

I must surrender,
Lay it all down,
Let the Master,
Shatter my walls,
And quench my thrist
With Living Water.

~

Freedom in my soul only prevails to a heart which surrenders!

I work so hard to control my outcome in all facets of my life. I have left myself exhausted and sweating profusly in my losing effort. Why do I set myself up for such failure?

Freedom in my soul only prevails to a heart which surrenders!

I painstakingly endeavor to "do" more and "be" less thinking I will feel purposefull, yet remain empty and and full of sorrow. Why do I forget the One for whom my hands toil?

Freedom in my soul only prevails to a heart which surrenders!

Please dear God help me to lay everything down at your feet! Amen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Friend Depression

Is it alright to just feel sad as I do today? I miss dear friends and long for my family, but yet all at the same time I am happy within my heart. It is my mind which causes such grief. Sometimes I think I know how my grandma felt those lonely days sitting at her kitchen table with her Bible open reading God’s promises to keep her going. I do that often for long periods of time. I have a friend called depression which I battle more than I would like. I am begging the Lord to let the sun come out today that I might soak its rays upon my face and think of Him.


Please don’t feel badly for me. This too shall pass. I am just in a period of readjusting my medicine, but I dislike this very much and sometimes question why the Lord just doesn’t heal me. But it is my thorn to bear and with Him I shall overcome and my mind will be at peace once again for my Savior constantly whispers in my ear just how much He loves me.

My dear friend in Iowa, Michelle, who God granted for our roads to cross and whom I miss with all my heart, posted this song on Facebook this morning. I think it was meant just for me and maybe just for you too!


 
Verse 1
There is a hope that burns within my heart
That gives me strength for ev'ry passing day
...A glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part
Yet drives all doubt away
I stand in Christ with sins forgiv'n
And Christ in me the hope of heav'n
My highest calling and my deepest joy
To make His will my home

Verse 2
There is a hope that lifts my weary head
A consolation strong against despair
That when the world has plunged me
In its deepest pit
I find the Savior there
Through present suff'rings future's fear
He whispers courage in my ear
For I am safe in everlasting arms
And they will lead me home

Verse 3
There is a hope that stands the test of time
That lifts my eyes beyond the beck'ning grave
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face
When suff'rings cease and sorrows die
And ev'ry longing satisfied
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul
For I am truly home

Misc 1
(ENDING)
When suff'rings cease and sorrows die
And ev'ry longing satisfied
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul
For I am truly home

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Be Still

The quietness of the morning stills my soul as a woodpecker taps on the trunk of the tree. The birds chirp and the sun shines brightly. I find the more opportunities I take for this peaceful tranquility, the more I desire these intimate soul stirring moments between my Lord and I. This desire becomes a craving of sorts in which a day missed with him is empty and unfulfilled.

Recently, during these still moments, I have found myself reevaluating my life. I've been asking three of life's biggest questions...

1) Who am I? (identity)
2) Where do I belong? (security)
3) What am I suppose to do? (significance)

Chip Ingram states in his book, "Living on the Edge"...

"It is far easier to accept predigested religious answers
and dive into energizing religious activities than it is to work through
the sometimes painful and difficult process of "being still and
knowing He is God." But quietness and stillness are REQUIRED in
order for God to tell you who you are, why you are here, and what
you are suppose to do."

Let the things of this Earth grow dim in the light of his glory and grace in a quiet moment with Him.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Lay 'em Down

If you read my last post, you know for Lent I have decided to give up my desires for the sake of Christ. Let me tell you, it is not an easy thing to do by no means. It has been a constant uncomfortable struggle between my flesh and its desires and the fierce Holy Spirit who relentlessly whispers gently within my mind in a sweet melody. But even the sweetest of melodies at times have been drowning me in the undertow of fleshly desires. It has left me tired with arms flailing in a maddening sense as a gasp to keep my head above water for another breath of fresh air. I need to give up and give in and allow Jesus to hold me awhile in his arms.


My heavenly Father continues to teach me through this struggle that I cannot will myself into compliance of His desires for my life. Only God in his infinite sovereignty and my surrender to His Lordship can make my heart comply until my soul cries out unspeakable joy and glorious contentment. It is a moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day commitment to seek to “be” instead of “do”. I have come to greatly appreciate the power of quieting myself before my Lord so I might better hear him sing over me and let Him paint the canvas of my life with more vibrant colors of His grace, mercy, and love.

Dear Heavenly Father…
please continue to help me surrender myself continually to you. It is so hard to lay 'em down and I can’t do it on my own. I need you! So please be patient with me Lord and help me to be patient with myself those times I fail. Let me see the small successes that I might praise you all the days of my life!
~Amen


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday

I love this time of year; the season of Lent. But I have also boasted of Christmas as my most favorite holiday. At Christmas, we celebrate the coming of Jesus and stand in awe of the virgin birth. When Lent arrives we are reminded of the life of Christ, his ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection. So how can I choose to look at these two events as separate? They go hand in hand…Jesus was born to die. He came into the world lowly born in a manger and left the world lowly hated by his own people. Why? Because he surrendered in the Garden of Gethsemane to his Father…to do God’s will and not his own…all because he loves me…all because he loves you!


Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the Lent season. I usually try to give something up for Lent. Not just anything, but something I deeply desire on a regular basis. More than once I have given up Diet Coke and other years I have relented on chocolate. But this year is different. As I thought about Jesus in the Garden before the soldiers came and took him away, his ultimate surrender to God struck a chord with me. I don’t need to give up a thing for Lent. I just need to surrender myself and give up my agenda for God’s. It is the greatest gift I could give back to my King…myself for his service. So, how about you? Will you give yourself up this Lent for Jesus?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship”

~Romans !2:1

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Valentine

I have secluded my heart this week. I thought it was best to buck up once again and just be strong on my own. So many who don’t know me…who don’t know my heart have falsely accused me when all I have done is stand up for what is right. It’s not just people I currently have come to know, but my past still haunts me. I beat myself up wondering if my childhood was my fault. I find myself minimizing my early years convincing myself that other children probably had it much worse. I’ve cried more times than I care to count this past week. I wept in the presence of my Abba and I know he comforted me.


Even in the dark seclusion of my broken heart, I went to God’s Word Blesses Us this week. It’s not a Bible study, but a time for brothers and sisters in Christ to gather and allow the Spirit to move us to action and live Jesus as a result. The scripture passage we read did not sit well with me and I found myself in a state of silence, unable to look at others, and repeatedly coaching myself internally not to share…it wasn’t worth it…don’t trust them. But then one sister stated something about being “free” if we would make things right with another. Before I could bite my lip I uttered,

“I strongly disagree.”

I was mad at myself for speaking, but then the tears came and they wouldn’t stop. Dale reached over and grabbed my hand and Beverly, his wife, placed her hand on top. It was if God with skin had reached to touch the heart of the broken…my grieving soul. I tried desperately to push the pain down deeper, but it floated to the surface for all to see. I could barely speak to explain my indifference. Eventually, in between sobs, sniffles, and salted drops, I was able to articulate my pain. It was very quiet. I felt awkward. But then amazing things began to happen. Because I had unfolded a piece of my heart to allow another to see a glimpse of my pain, I was ministered to by the others in our small group. It was a huge bear hug embrace and I didn’t feel so alone.

We know that we have passed from death to life,

because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

I John 3:14


I am thanking God this day for all the beautiful friends he has sent my way in all the many places I have lived. I know not one person I have met in this journey called life was an accident. It has been ordained by my heavenly Father. He knew before I was born the path I would trod, the smiles, laughter, tears, and pain I would encounter. I cannot be angry for the trials and suffering this life has brought, but must remember how much my Jesus suffered for me…for nothing he did wrong.

So Jesus I ask you,

“Will you be my Valentine this year?”

Love Always and Forever,

Your Beloved Daughter,

Shannon

XOXOXOXOXOXO - Please watch the awesome video below!!!



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Angry at God

I’m all about justice. I’m a fierce competitor at heart. I won’t deny it. But much of it stems from survival mode growing up in an abusive home. I’m use to bucking up, turning the other cheek, and have learned much about the word mercy. I do realize who I am in Christ, but sometimes, like today, I’m angry at God. I could not even take communion at church this morning because I found it hard to tell God I loved him, talk to him, or worship him during the service.

Sometimes it doesn’t’ take much for me to cave within myself and hoard what God intends for me to share. It is pure selfishness on my part and I do it mostly because I don’t trust others well and the thought of nonaccpetance is just purely terrifying to me at times. I find myself always looking for the right hook leaving me in the corner with another bloody lip.

However, some things I am confident I can do well. One of those things is coaching the game of basketball. But yesterday afternoon, my confidence was rocked to the core as I was told I am a bad coach and that I don’t care about the boys on my team. One of those boys happens to be my son. They didn’t like the way I subbed, they didn’t like the way my team played man to man defense, and felt I played some boys too much. Here’s the kicker…we lost the game by one point. Really, what was all the complaining for anyways? It all just seemed so senseless to me, but with a smile intact I shook hands with the gentleman (not any of my parents) who seemed so unkind and stated we would have to agree to disagree. I also offered for him to call my parents and see what they think of my coaching and I am sure he would find a far different opinion.

I was strong in the moment and set a good example, but when I got home it was an entirely different story. I beat myself up all afternoon and all night barely sleeping a wink. Is it arrogant of me to know my talents and gifts and with confidence use them for God’s glory? I do not boast of them, but why do others try to squelch the very essence of who I am with untruth and derogatory comments without the knowledge of who I am. I have wanted to recoil as I ask God is it really worth it…doing this stuff for you. It would be so much easier to sit on the sidelines and watch and not risk.

All I hear whispered in a still small voice deep within,

“I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it.”

~

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am sorry for being mad at you this morning during church. Please help me to have the fortitude and grace to continue to carry on using the gifts and talents you have blessed me with to shine the light of Christ to others. I pray for those today who seem to not like me and seem falsely to accuse me without knowing my heart. You know my heart. You know how much I care. I desire only to hear these words from your mouth,

“Well done good and faithful servant.”

Amen


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amazing Grace

I’ve been writing a lot lately. It’s a memoire about me and the pain and anguish I endured as a child, but also what made God sad and what made God happy. The book will be a journey for anyone who wants to find them self one step closer to home…home being heaven. I myself have opened wounds I thought I had forgiven and now find God healing me once again. This is a far cry from the little girl who desperately wondered if anyone heard her pleas from behind the hazel eyes and long brown hair. I will never forget the sadness. It haunts me still today as I still grieve what could have been, but also I rejoice in knowing how far God has brought me. He taught me how to break the chains of generational sin and give my children a life of love and grace as my Jesus has freely given me.  His grace is amazing and so I leave you with one of my most favorite songs. Praise God my chains are gone and I have been set free!



Monday, January 17, 2011

O Great God

I spent the better part of today writing. It has taken me a long time to finally pen down what it is God wants me to write into a book. I’m now sure I am on the right path because the pain cuts deep as I relive within my mind the fear and turmoil I lived growing up as a young child. I have shed many tears these past few weeks as the words spill from my heart. I ask that all of my followers, friends, and family please keep me and this book in your prayers. I know it will help heal me even more, but I know God wants me to write this to help heal others as well. God made beauty from the ashes of my life and I know he can do that for anyone not matter what the circumstance, tragedy, or pain you have been through or are now experiencing in your life.

“He brought me out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away the chains.”

Psalm 107:14

No matter how deep the pain may pierce your heart...know our God is greater and close enough to hear you now. So fall on your knees and speak, weep, and be comforted by the Great I Am. Even though he already knows every word you will say, he still loves the sound of your voice. The voice he gave you when he kissed you sweetly upon the forhead and set you in your mother's womb.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Days of Beauty



The early morn as the sun peeks through the trees







Thank you Lord for this wonderful day! You filled it with beauty and excitement!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Untouched Beauty


Tonight the first big snow storm arrived to our area. My two youngest have already gone outside sledding on the short steep hill in our picturesque back yard as the big fluffy flakes danced gingerly in the night sky. I hope to be up bright and early tomorrow morning to sit with a warm brew snuggled between the palms of my hands and take in the beauty of the new snow from our bay windows. I might even venture out and take a few snapshots. The photograph above is a picture taken near my home last winter during our record snowfall season.

Honestly, I hope all of you will take a few moments today and reflect upon God's beauty which is all around us.  Whether it is the fresh snow, the touch of the warm rays of the sun upon your cheek, or maybe the sound of your child's giggle...be at peace...take it in...and realize the blessings God gives each and every day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Homeward Bound

Every human being has felt the sense of homelessness in a life time. As a small child, homelessness might be felt during those first few long days of kindergarten. The child’s whole world has changed. Mom is no longer around to carry out their every beck and call and the accustomed environment of home steeped in a mother’s love is replaced by a teacher they barely know and classmates who are strangers. The ages of junior high school, high school, and especially college all evoke this sense of homelessness. Life after all is ever changing where old ways become obsolete to new beginnings…first job…first apartment…marriage…children…retirement…death of a spouse are all instances where we may feel a sense of exile deep within our hearts until what is unfamiliar becomes the familiar once again.


But even when we are accustomed to our new environment, why do we still long for home? What is this desire within us to return to remembrances of yester years within the grey matter of our minds? Is God calling us to our true self through these images whether good or bad? And what may I ask is our “true self”?

As Christians, we also face daily homelessness. We know our true citizenship is in heaven and not on this Earth. We know that where our treasure is there are heart will be also. So we try to stay focused on what the important things are and keep our priorities in the proper order. But all too often we become distracted and tossed from the narrow path. Our eyes wander and see things we want instead of being content with what we have already. We forget the basic principle that less equals more. Our desires become world focused and not Christ centered!

Life is all about a relationship with Jesus. A relationship with Immanuel creates a deep love within for Him, for us, and for others. This love abounds so much that it spills into interactions with others. Interaction with others leads to fellowship. And fellowship leads to hospitality…which leads to loyalty…which leads to accountability. People need one another. God did not create us to live a solo life void of relations with others…especially not void of Him! Finding our “true self” has everything to do with finding God and having a relationship with his son Jesus Christ.

Though our hearts are homeless while we walk this Earth in human flesh our soul should always seek the shelter of home. Home is wherever we find Jesus. He is everywhere! We just need to consciously seek to encounter His presence to know his will for our lives. I hope for myself and all of you that this year...this new beginning... your “doing” might be remedied into just “being”, and that you might learn how to “do” and “be” at the same time, and have moments of perfect harmony that bring you one step closer to home!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Search Me Oh God

"Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting."

~Psalm 139:23-24

This is my prayer for this new year!