Every life has value

My family and I recently returned from a medical mission trip to Haiti. We met a special person who changed our lives. His name was Edison. He was eight months old but so malnourished and sick that he weighed only 14 pounds, the average size of a four-month-old. His nine-year-old brother, Esky, brought him to our medical clinic in Croix de Bouquets, Haiti, on a Sunday afternoon.

Words don’t come easy when you try to fathom the childhood his brother has lost, having to care for his baby brother, and the heartache he felt as he told the doctors that his baby sister had recently died. The volunteer medical team examined baby Edison and found that he was riddled with disease. Among them were syphilis and HIV. He had been born with these diseases, which had caused his mother to be mentally incapable to care for him, as her body was succumbing to their damaging effects. Our hearts were broken as we wished we could have done more. All we could offer was water to hydrate him, hugs and prayers.

EDISON WAS THE TOPIC OF MANY CONVERSATIONS DURING OUR SHORT TIME IN HAITI.

I learned more about HIV and AIDS than I’ve ever known, and I was overwhelmed. I believe with everything in me that God creates every human being with a specific purpose, and that every single one of us has an inherent value simply because God created us and breathed life into us. That value is permanent! It can’t be added to or taken away from. So, I knew God had a purpose for Edison; that God knew the number of his days, and that every one of those days mattered.

OH, HOW I WISHED THAT WE COULD EXTEND THE NUMBER OF THOSE DAYS BECAUSE THEY SEEMED SO VERY PAINFULLY SHORT. BUT GOD NEVER STARTS A STORY WITHOUT FINISHING IT.

On our way home, 10 out of our team of 30 people missed our connecting flight. We embraced the unexpected adventure after the annoyance of the lack of efficiency of the customs procedures (don’t get me started). This is where the story gets really cool. After pleading with the restaurant staff to stay open late, so we could use our vouchers for our comped meal, they agreed, and we were all grateful to finally eat some dinner.

A couple walked up to us and began sharing about how they had missed their flight as well. I recognized them from the airport in Haiti. We exchanged small talk, and as they explained more of what they were in Haiti for, we found out some incredible news. You ready for this? They run a clinic in Croix de Bouquets where they specifically treat HIV and AIDS patients for FREE! We all gasped and rubbed the goosebumps that were raising on all of our arms. My 15-year-old daughter looked at us and said with certainty, “This is why we’re here. This is why we missed our flight!” Tiny baby Edison’s life was important enough to God that He brought so many people together for His rescue operation. Those who were left behind at the airport became those who got to watch it all unfold from front row seats.

I HAVE SEEN AGAIN AND AGAIN THE WAY THAT GOD CHOOSES TO USE US TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES.

What may seem like a coincidence to some is actually an obvious work of God. Had we been on that flight home to L.A., we wouldn’t have been in that hotel lobby sitting next to people who run a clinic for HIV / AIDS. Every minuscule bit of our trip was orchestrated intentionally to place us exactly where we needed to be at exactly the right time! Isn’t that amazing! God wants to do the same for you. If God works so hard to rescue a baby with a less than desirable outlook, don’t you think He wants to rescue you? He does, my friend. My prayer for you is that you will know that you are loved, treasured and valued above what you could ever imagine. God is trying to get your attention. He wants to rescue you today. Will you let Him?

 

Since the trip, Edison has been receiving treatments, and his brother Esky has been given help as well.  You can help Edison & Esky by clicking here !  

One day I was a Fire Breathing Dragon

It was a difficult conversation. Don’t you hate those? I thought I was right; they thought they were right, which resulted in a heated war of the words. Unfortunately, the exchange escalated, and all of a sudden, I transformed into some sort of fire-breathing dragon bent on destroying any words that might come against me. I thought I was good. I thought I was sensible and wise and kind. But, when it was over, as I stepped back to see the damage that remained after my fiery defense, there was no mistaking it. My pride had won.

THERE’S ALWAYS A BIT OF A WAR WITHIN US DURING THOSE UNAVOIDABLE CONFLICTS IN LIFE.

I find that I have a deep desire to be understood, yet the other person longs for the same. So, what I’m forgetting is to try to understand. See, if I am letting God direct my words and my actions, I will seek to understand while I am being understood. Have I confused you yet? Work with me here…my pride had taken hold of my heart and mind and told me, “You do whatever you have to do to MAKE them understand that you are right!”, while the voice of the Holy Spirit, getting softer and softer, was whispering, “Be quiet and try to listen and understand what THEY are saying.”

What did I learn from this? Well, first of all, I was acutely reminded that residing in me is the incredibly awful ability to tear someone apart with my words.

I LOOKED BACK WITH DEEP REGRET AT WORDS I COULDN’T TAKE BACK.

You may be wondering, “Well, what if I really am right, and they aren’t trying to understand?” As always, God is a step ahead of us! Remember in chapter 14 of Exodus, when Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites out of captivity? Well, not too long after they were let go, Pharaoh was like, “Wait a minute! Why would I let all that free labor walk out of here? Let’s go get them back!” Pharaoh and his men went after the Israelites, and as they saw their enemy approaching, the Israelites freaked out! I mean, they were so scared, they regretted being freed from slavery! That is major freak-out material right there! Can I just say how thankful I am that God didn’t call me to be a Moses. What a whining group of people. (We wouldn't have whined any less, I’m sure.)

Moses told the people, whom God had put into his care, “Chill out! Just stand there and watch God take these creeps down!” This is, of course, the Shannon version. But in all seriousness, God, through Moses, comforted His people by reminding them that HE is the one who fights the battles in front of us. The Israelites didn’t need to defend themselves, because they had God on their side. Over and over, throughout the wilderness time of the Israelites, we see God come through for them, feed them and rescue them. He meets their every need, and He indeed fulfilled His promise.

What does this mean for us? It means that we will all fight battles figuratively, and sometimes even literally.

WE HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE.

We can choose to let God fight for us, or we can choose to morph into a really ugly, fire-breathing dragon. I wouldn’t recommend the latter. From now on, I know what I will choose. I will choose to let God come rescue me. Not necessarily rescue me from the person I am “fighting” with, but I need Him to rescue me from my deep, fleshly desire to MAKE myself be understood. The truth is, God gets me, He understands me, and He knows what my motives are. His opinion is the one I care about the most.

And here’s the coolest part…are you ready for this? When I put my efforts into honoring God first, I will, in turn, honor others. He has promised in Ezekiel 36:26 to give me a new heart and a new Spirit. He vows to take away the rough edges and place in me a heart that wants to honor Him. That breathes new life into me, which I can breathe out towards others. It also takes away that fire that I had previously wanted to breathe out. 

 

Life Lessons From The Worried Woman

My husband and I were all settled in our seats as our plane was boarding for a flight to Houston. Believe it or not, we had won a trip including flights, accommodations and tickets to the Super Bowl! We aren’t even sports fans, but, I mean, c’mon, it’s the Super Bowl, oh, and it was my birthday. God always gives the best gifts!

A WOMAN CAME DOWN THE MIDDLE AISLE WITH A WORRIED LOOK ON HER FACE.

It didn’t seem like anything was actually wrong, she just seemed like one of those people who always has a worried look on their face, know what I mean? You know that constant look of striving and worry?

So, the “Worried Woman” asked a gentleman if he wouldn’t mind moving back a row, so her husband could sit across the aisle from her. The man obliged without question. “Oh thank you so much!”, said the worry-faced woman, “I really appreciate that!” I grinned at this lovely gesture of human kindness that seems to be lacking these days. Then, a soft-spoken woman who was sitting in the middle of the row (now next to “Worried Woman’s” husband) piped up and said, “Oh, my husband is right there next to you. Would you be able to sit on that side together, so that my husband and I can sit together over here together?” “Worried Woman” seemed caught off guard and paused to think. Her worried face turned into an inconvenienced face and she said, “Oh no, I don’t want to sit in the middle.” I was struck at the way she had just been offered kindness but wasn’t willing to become uncomfortable in order to offer the same kindness to someone else.

Before you get all “I would never do that” on me, I am one step ahead of you, because I did the same thing. I shook my head and thought of a few things I wanted to say but kept them to myself. I quickly realized though…I can’t judge “Worried Woman,” because I’m a lot like her (insert nervous grimacing faced emoji here). OK folks, it’s confession time…If I’m bringing home donuts for my kids, I make sure I get my favorite one out of the box BEFORE I get home because kids are vultures. I want the closest parking spot when I go to the grocery store because walking is work, and groceries are heavy. I want the cushiest chair in my favorite coffee shop because…well did I mention it was the cushiest? And doggonit, I just want to watch Food Network, not the action packed movies my husband wants to watch…it also bears mentioning that I don’t want to share the french fries on my plate with him either! My point is, I am just as selfish as the woman on my flight was!

IN ORDER FOR US TO BE UNSELFISH, WE HAVE TO OVERRIDE OUR HUMAN DESIRE TO BE CATERED TO.

It’s not natural for us to want to serve others and make sure their needs are met before ours.

God’s Word says, “Consider others as more important than yourselves.” It’s tricky, but not impossible. I’ve found that the things that don’t come naturally to me aren’t impossible, they just take more practice. Usually when we practice something, we become better at it, right? It’s the same when cultivating an unnatural character of unselfishness.

IF WE MAKE AN EFFORT TO PUT OTHERS FIRST, WE’LL GET BETTER AT IT.

For example, let someone go in front of you in line at your favorite coffee shop, or maybe even drive right past that front parking spot so that someone else can enjoy a shorter walk. What?! But groceries are heavy! I know, I know, but just try it out. I think you may just find that you get better at it the more you do it. Not to mention when we put God in front of us and decide to honor Him and obey Him, He always gives us the will and the way. We can all learn a lesson from the woman with the permanent worried look on her face. Life is stressful when you’re always looking to see how you can get ahead.You can never rest when you’re striving to always come in first. So let’s all try letting others be more important for awhile. That includes me. I’ll even bring home my favorite donut for my kids to try before I devour it. What about you…you in?

Have a Mary Christmas!

Christmas trees, presents and parties, oh my! How’s that Christmas season treatin’ ya so far? Is it just me, or do people get meaner while driving their cars around this time of the year? All of a sudden, it’s as if everyone is saying within the confines of their car, “Get out of my way! I have WAY too much to do, and YOU are slowing me down!” Granted, there is a lot to think about during this season, and especially us as women can become so busy that we forget what we are really meant to be all about! I’ve never been a “yes” person. Do you know any “yes” people? Sure, they can be on that committee, yes they can throw that party, of course, they can make that meal and lead that small group and drive the carpool, yes, yes, yes. Yet before long, they are bogged down and burned out.

 

But where in the middle of all of that busyness is the “yes” for time with Jesus?

God’s calling on our lives doesn’t change just because there are festivities to attend, presents to buy and houses to be decorated. He still calls us to sit at His feet, rest in His presence and give Him our full attention. I think about Mary and Martha. Jesus was IN THEIR HOUSE, and all Martha could do was work, work, work and judge Mary because she wasn’t doing anything but sitting and listening to Jesus…how DARE she! She even goes so far as to say, “Jeeesuuus…Mary isn’t heeeeeelping me!” Okay, maybe she didn’t say it in a whiney voice, but that’s the way I hear it in my head, so work with me, friends.

I imagine that Jesus’ voice back to her was calm, sure and perhaps longing. “Oh Martha…how could I ask Mary to stop doing what her heart is compelling her to do? She is content; she is enraptured; she is at rest.” I’m sure Jesus longed for Martha to do the same.

My Mom has always been an example to me of a woman who rests at Jesus’ feet every single morning.

I’m sure she had to fight for this time when we were all kids, but her intent and practice of reading God’s love letter every single day has become her norm. These days if I show up to her house early, I can find her wrapped up in her cozy robe with her tea and her Bible open at the kitchen table. Her dedication to God’s Word is something I strive for, and I am thankful for her example. My Mom is the women’s director at our church, so she is at the helm of planning all the women’s events and leads a great team of helpers. Around this time of year, things start to get really busy for her. One year around the holidays, I remember her talking about all she had to do that day, and she didn’t know how she would fit it all in. She said she started to get busy before reading her Bible and then realized, “I have too much to do to NOT read my Bible.” She needed her time at Jesus’ feet, to rest in Him, hear from Him and receive strength to tackle that to-do list. When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary’s lack of concern for all that needed to be done, His response to her was:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 41-42, NIV).

What does your to-do list look like today?

If it looks anything like mine, I’m sure it is chock-full of tasks. Can I encourage you to do something? Go to your to-do list, knock the top item down a notch and write at the top “Be a Mary.” Choose the better thing. Choose time with Jesus before you do any other items on your list today. God wants your attention, not your work. He is, after all, the reason Christmas began in the first place. Give Him your time today, rest in His presence and allow Him to pour into you all you need to get through the busyness of this season. Even and especially the patience with all those crazy parking lots and freeways! Have a very Merry Christmas, my friends!

 

 

 

Shannon's articles are published monthly on calvarychapel.com.  This article was originally published there. 

Cats With Clothes On

Have you ever put clothing on a cat? In my super important research for this article I found it necessary to search YouTube with the words “putting clothes on cats.” I encourage you to do the same, as it will definitely brighten your day. When I was younger, we had a cat named Mr. Fraidy, so named because he was afraid of everything. Get it? He was a “fraidy cat.” I know, my family is a clever bunch. As a source of fun and enjoyment, we would cut the toes out of a stretched-out sock and slip it onto Mr. Fraidy. He would get up and try to walk but would ultimately end up looking like some sort of drunken sailor or just give up all together and lay down in defeat. Oddly enough, this picture of my poor, old cat came to mind when I was doing a devotion about our burdens.

BURDEN BY DEFINITION MEANS “A HEAVY LOAD”

We all carry them from time to time, and sometimes, they are put on us (like little Mr. Fraidy, God rest his feline soul). We do our best to walk around and make life work in spite of this heavy weight. If you are anything like me, you stuff the burdens down, trying to hide them until one day it’s just too much, and you can’t fight the desire to give up anymore. But, we are able to be free of the burdens just as quick and easy as Mr. Fraidy was. When he complained enough (i.e. meowed as loud and angrily as he could), we would reluctantly remove the sock, and he would scamper off to hide underneath a bed or behind the couch. Similarly, when we are loaded down with worries and cares, all we need to do is ask God to take them from us.

When I was watching those silly “cat with clothes on” videos, I began to wonder what God thinks when He sees me struggling to carry my own burdens. Does he chuckle sometimes at the silliness of it all? How foolish I am to think that I can handle the weight on my own, when all I need to do is say, “OK, God, this is too much; I need you to take it.” In His kindness, He instantly removes the burden and gets rid of it.

God is clear in His words that the MOMENT we come to Him and ask for His help, He steps in immediately to rescue us. He says:

 "COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.”

This is a clear invitation to come and be released from the unnecessary weight you’re carrying. God has time for you, my friend! He has time to spend removing your burdens, no matter the weight and no matter how many you have been lugging around. His goal is your freedom! How can you walk encumbered by the worries, cares and stresses of life? The answer is you can’t, and you weren’t meant to. Don’t be like those cats with clothes on. Meow (er, I mean call) to God, and He will come to your rescue and set you free from that weight!

In all seriousness, my friends, what burdens are you carrying today? It doesn’t matter how small it may seem; it is keeping you from walking in the freedom God has already given you. How Jesus longs to come for you and remove that heaviness. He wants you to be able to walk lightly today. Will you let Him?

Dreams Undeveloped

Vivian Maier was born in New York City. She lived a relatively long life before passing away at the age of 83. Up until 2007 she was known as little more than a peculiar woman who worked as a nanny and always wore a camera around her neck. A box of negatives that belonged to her was purchased at an auction by a man named John Maloof. When he began going through all of the negatives and subsequent boxes of hers that he purchased, he found that she was an incredibly talented photographer. Yet, she had hundreds of rolls of undeveloped film and negatives. Don’t you wonder why? Perhaps she had no idea how talented she really was, maybe she took photos simply for the joy of capturing scenes of everyday people living everyday lives.

IT MAKES ME WONDER...WHAT SORT OF DREAMS AND TALENTS HAVE YOU LEFT UNDEVELOPED?

I am a dreamer, and I firmly believe that God places dreams in every single one of us. The "size" of your dream is of little importance; what matters most is what you do with that dream. God places the dream in us and will give us all we need to achieve that dream. The only uncertain thing between the birth of the dream and the dream coming to fruition is our choice to do the work it’ll take or to remain sedentary.

Why wouldn't we want to jump with both feet into a big dream that God has placed in us? Fear. Fear that we won't be able to accomplish the dream. But God’s Word promises to give us everything we need for life and godliness, because He has called us, and He has promises He’s made that He intends to fulfill (2 Peter 1:3-4). I think of it like an airport runway at night. It is lit up like a huge Christmas tree so there is no mistaking where the plane should land. That is how God will lead us if we ask for His guidance and His leading.

DO YOU EVER FEAR THAT PEOPLE WON'T LIKE YOUR DREAMS AND THEREFORE WON'T CHEER YOU ON ALONG THE WAY?

This is a hard one, and I totally get it! As a musician, my talents and gifts from God are usually used in front of people. Some people like my gifts, and some don’t. There is no shortage of people who are unafraid to put their not so nice opinions on the “prayer request” section of a bulletin and shove it in the offering box. Sadly the naysayers are usually louder than the cheering squad. I learned a long time ago that you can’t please everyone, and guess what, that’s OK! Even Jesus, who saved the entire world from hell was despised and rejected by even His closest friends (Isaiah 53:3). My point is we are not out to please people; we are out to achieve whatever it is God has set out in front of us. That is our responsibility. Galatians 1:10 (NLT) says, “I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.” The fact that God celebrates our little and not so little victories should spur us on to realize the dream He has planted in us.

I wonder if you have any dreams that have been left undeveloped, much like Vivian Maier’s negatives and film rolls. By the way, since her passing, Vivian Maier’s work has become quite popular and well known. How sad that it wasn’t until she passed away that her work was released to the world. Remember I said it’s not about the size of your dream; it’s about what you do with it. If you can’t think of any dreams, you haven’t thought hard enough. And don’t forget that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above anything you could ever think to ask for! (Ephesians 3:20)

Quiet Time in a Garbage Dump

 dropped the kids off at school in the nick of time, as usual. Looking at the clock, I realized I had a hour-and-a-half to spare before my 9:30 appointment. My choices were a great workout or some time with Jesus, so I opted for a beautiful morning reading my Bible on the beach. I could just imagine the clear, blue waters crashing on the shore and could almost feel the warm sand between my toes. I quickly found a parking spot, as I coasted past the surfers just leaving and those just getting started. I couldn’t wait to get my toes in the sand and see Catalina Island off in the distance. I grabbed my Bible and put my keys in my jean pocket, as I began walking along the path to the beach.

SUDDENLY, AN UNEXPECTED SOUND PIERCED THE SILENCE.

A noisy air compressor was being used to work on someone’s home. I winced at the unwelcome sound but kept walking, hoping the waves would drown out the awful noise. I took a few more steps and looked up at the beach. In disappointment I dropped my hands to my sides as I looked up to see that the smog on the horizon was the worst I’d seen in a while. To make matters worse, the waves that I had been anxious to sit and watch were washing up an unusually enormous amount of garbage. “Great!” I thought “How am I supposed to have a decent time with Jesus in this noisy garbage dump?”

I was feeling slightly defeated, but with time ticking away, I figured I would make the best of it. Those pesky little kelp flies swarmed around my ankles as I walked past piles of seaweed on my way. Empty soda bottles, lip gloss containers, broken beach ball and an odd amount of airline regulation sized liquor bottles littered the beach (random, I know). I tried my hardest to empty my thoughts and let God speak to me as I sat in the midst of this trash heap. I closed my eyes and just sat, quietly. After a few minutes I heard it. All at once everything around me seemed to fall silent except the sound of the waves. I could hear them churning and crashing on the shore, just as they always do. I opened my eyes. I could see the sand swirling up in each one, forming a beautiful pattern across the face of the wave. I closed my eyes again, took a deep breath and just listened. The calming drone of the water brought comfort and peace. It suddenly felt like nothing else mattered—I was alone with my Creator, enjoying the creation He had made just for me to enjoy.

I WAS REMINDED THAT AMONGST ALL THE JUNK THAT HITS US FROM DAY TO DAY, THE LORD REMAINS THE SAME.

He is constant; He never changes. The waves have been crashing on shores around the world since the day the oceans were created. God has been present, dependable, faithful and powerful all the more. His Word says that if I tried to count the thoughts that God thinks about me, they would outnumber the sands of the sea. Looking at the grains being swirled around in the waves, my breath was taken away by the sheer amount of time God takes to think about little old me. He has promised to be faithful, and He is trustworthy to do just that. Just as I know that every time I drive to the beach, I will hear and see the water churning and the waves curling, and I can count on Him to remain the same. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will never leave me. He is always with me.

AREN’T ALL OF OUR LIVES LITTERED WITH AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT OF GARBAGE?

If we choose to focus only on the pieces of trash that reside in our lives—past, present and even future—we will miss the beautiful constancy of God. If we look, we will find the unexpected gifts that God has just waiting in the wings for us. So, even on a beach overshadowed by noise, smog and trash, God showed up. He always does.

“Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.” (Psalm 119:90, NLT).

 

  •  

     

Lies Are Loud

My Mom didn’t ask my little brother anything, but he looked up at her and said: “I didn’t take any chocolate chip cookies, Mom.” The telltale chocolate smears across his face told a different story. He sold himself out before she even noticed any cookies were missing. I can just imagine his little boy brain trying to throw mom off the trail of the missing cookies by just letting her know he was definitely not a suspect before she even began her investigation. But his little lie made it clear that there were indeed cookies missing, and the perpetrator was standing about waist high right in front of her.

LIES ARE LOUD AREN’T THEY?

When people feel guilty and are backed up in a corner, they shout out these lies in an attempt to take the finger that is pointing at them and turn it on any other easy target. Any Christian should know this first hand, because the enemy of our souls is the biggest liar of all and sometimes the loudest. The Bible actually says about Satan: “When he lies, he speaks in his native language, because he is the father of lies” (John 8:44). If he is the father of lies, than we can know that any lie we believe about ourselves has come completely from him. He has lies that he wants all of us to believe, because if we believe what he tells us about who we are and what God has for us, it makes it harder to believe the truth God speaks to us.

While lies may be different for men and women, some of them may sound like this: “You’re not beautiful, you are not loved, you are a bad mom/dad, you are a bad wife/husband, you’re fat, you're broken, you’re unwanted, you’re not a good provider, you don’t have anything to offer, you are alone.” Do any of those sound familiar to you? Have they been wedged into your heart so much that they are hard to ignore? While the enemy is the father of lies, some of these phrases may be delivered to us via our parents, former teachers, bullies or significant others. It matters little how they were spoken to us. What matters is how we have let them stick and define who we think we are because of them.

It is so much easier to recall the negative things that have been said to us. I’m sure you can think of something awful that was said to you, but if I told you to try to recall a compliment that was given to you, it might take a few more seconds for you to think of one. Lies are loud, and often times the truth is quiet. God whispers to us everyday: “I love you, you are beautiful, you are enough, you were made in My image, I have good plans for you, I am with you.” At the same time, the enemy is shouting at you, trying to draw you back to believing his lies. If the Devil can keep you wallowing in the sorrow that comes when you believe his lies, he can successfully keep you away from God. 

BUT GOD, WHO LOVES YOU SO MUCH, HAS PROVIDED YOU WITH A WEAPON AGAINST THE ENEMY’S ATTACKS…THE TRUTH!

For every lie the enemy speaks about you, there is a truth in God’s Word to counteract it. I encourage you to think of a specific lie that runs in your mind constantly, especially when you are weak. Take that lie, and look up the antonym for that word, then go search in the Bible for the truth that debunks that lie. Here are a few to get you started:

1. LIE: NOBODY LOVES YOU.

Truth: He loves us so much that even when we were against Him, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8)

2. LIE: I AM ALONE.

 Truth: God tell us not to fear or be dismayed because He is with us, He will make us strong and even hold us. (Isaiah 41:10)

3. LIE: YOU HAVE NO FUTURE.

 Truth: God has BIG plans for us, plans that will be good and will lead us to a bright future and fill us with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So you see, lies are loud, but the truth of God speaks louder! His truth has not and will never change. The way we feel about ourselves will ALWAYS be subjective to our surroundings and our circumstances, but God’s truth will always remain! No matter what the enemy may try to throw at you, let God’s Word speak for itself. God knows you, loves you, sees you and has plans for you that you wouldn’t even be able to imagine, even if He told you! (Habakkuk 1:5)

Angel's Landing


“Let’s go on a hike,” my husband said. “It’ll be fun,” he said. I was all-in, but I had no idea what I was really in for. My family was on our summer road trip, and our first stop was Zion National Park, a breathtaking valley shadowed by awe inspiring mountains that look like towers jutting from the valley below. It’s one of those things that can’t be described, it needs to be seen. There are many trails to explore in Zion, we decided to start with Angel’s Landing. The park map said it was about a five mile strenuous hike that took four hours. Families with small children, people with heart conditions or fear of heights were strongly cautioned. Since our kids are 13 and 14 years old, had no physical ailments and were pretty active as a whole family, we figured we could handle it.

IT STARTED OFF NICE AND EASY, BUT THEN…WE FACED DRASTICALLY STEEP INCLINED SWITCHBACK TRAILS THAT WERE SPRAWLED ACROSS THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.

My oldest daughter has struggled with asthma and began to have a hard time catching her breath. My husband, having suffered from asthma himself, was able to help her calm down and get her breathing back to normal. She wanted to quit. We assured her that we could see the top from where we were standing and encouraged her that we would make it! After a short rest, we continued on the trail. Little did we know we were really only about 1/4 of the way through our hike, and things were about to get real sketchy.

We entered a slot canyon area that was lovely and shaded, and where you could hear your voice echo when you spoke (or sang, as I did of course). We figured the worst was over and our destination was just around the corner. But, no. There were more switchback trails that were shorter but much steeper. Once we got through those, we came upon a section of the trail that made me internally say, “OK, NOPE, that’s it! We have come this far, and we can go ahead and turn back now. There is NO WAY I am taking my children up there!”

Ahead of us was a mountain that I can only describe as looking a lot like a giant rock potato chip. I mean, who would want to climb a giant rock potato chip? It was towering and thin, with a sheer drop that I later found out was about 1500 feet above the ground below. Along the trail were thick metal chains anchored into the rock to help you climb without falling to your death. Some of the trail in this area was only two feet wide with drop-offs on either side. Hikers at the summit looked like little ants because they were so far away. This is something I would love to do with just my husband, but having our kids with me changed things. I could feel my heart pounding even thinking about traversing this final mile to the summit.

“C’mon,” my husband assured me, “It’s right up there; it’ll be fine.” My kids were keen on the idea too, and I wasn’t about to be a party pooper. I took a deep breath and started on the road of submission, craning my neck back to make sure I still had two daughters. “Be careful girls. Don’t step there. Hold on to the chain. Slow and steady. Oh my gosh, be careful. No, hold on to the chain!” I’m sure I was making my family insane, but I just couldn’t hold back my fear that one of them would lose their footing. Then the rain started, just a drizzle. Sure, it was refreshing, but it also made our hands slippery on the metal chain. You know, the metal chain that was supposed to save our lives. We were just getting to the most treacherous portion of the trail, almost to the summit when it began to really rain on us. OK, I was done. I couldn’t handle anymore.

MY PANIC WAS BECOMING OVERWHELMING, SO I HAD A DECISION TO MAKE. I COULD LET MYSELF BE TERRIFIED AND MAKE MY FAMILY MISERABLE BY NAGGING THEM, OR I COULD GIVE MY FEAR TO GOD.

I chose the latter. I prayed out loud, “OK, Lord, you love my kids more than I do, I need you to look after them and bring peace to my heart. Please take my fear and just keep my kids safe. And it would be really cool if this rain would pass.” About five minutes after I prayed this prayer, the rain stopped, and we came to the end of the metal chain to see the summit! We had done it, and the view was worth it! We spent some time up there, ate some snacks, drank some water and prayed as a family. I reminded our girls that when we admire creation and acknowledge that God is a perfect designer, we are worshipping Him! We were wowed by the vast valley, and the deep, rich, red of the mountains against the big, blue sky. It was a memory that none of us will soon forget.

On our way back down, we passed through the sketchy chain section, then came to the downhill switchbacks. We encouraged those weary hikers still heading up the trail by saying, “You’re almost there. You can make it. It’s worth it!” I told my oldest daughter how proud I was of her pushing through and finishing the hike, and I could tell she was pretty proud of herself too. I realized that our hike resembled our lives. We go through difficult climbs where we want to throw up our hands and say “NOPE! Not today!” But, when we stop and intentionally trust Jesus to protect us and guide us, He takes us higher than we ever thought we could go. And once we finish our journey, we get to encourage others because we’ve been there, and we’ve seen the view. We know that the climb is worth it, even if it’s a giant rock potato chip!

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Music

I spent the day in LA with my friend Jen, who also happens to be an amazing photographer! Well, she made a video project and I got to be the subject.  I may or may not have covered a Beiber song or two on ukulele.  Jen was able to capture the passion I have for music and writing songs in such a real, raw way.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  For more  about Jen, click here.

 

THE SECRET TO MAINTAINING VISION AT EVERY STEP OF LIFE'S JOURNEY

 

I’m an expert at starting things; it’s the completing that I’m not so good at. I have a small stack of books on my nightstand that I have been meaning to finish. In my backyard is some potting soil and mulch that I bought a couple of weeks ago for a backyard project that I haven’t gotten to either. And there are countless song ideas waiting to be finished on my phone’s audio notes app. Sometimes we are so excited, so passionate about something at the start, but when it comes to finishing, we run out of steam.

ECCLESIASTES 7:8 SAYS, “THE END OF A THING IS BETTER THAN ITS BEGINNING.”

My initial thought is to disagree. “Well, what about all it took to start, and what about the hard parts in the middle where I wanted to give up? Isn’t that important too?” But, as I ponder this verse deeper, I come to realize that the end really is better than the beginning.

Have you ever heard of a Ragnar race? I hadn’t either until a friend of mine started posting about a race she was taking part in. A Ragnar is a running race that covers the shocking distance of 200 miles! The difference between a Ragnar and your typical marathon race is that it is completed using a team. In my extensive research (not really, I just looked at a few websites) I found that there are two types of teams, ultra and regular. Regular is a team of 12 runners, while ultra is a team of six. Now, I don’t mind running, but oh my stars, that is a lot of miles, even to share with others!

Imagine being the first team member to run on a Ragnar team. It must take an amazing amount of mental fortitude to wrap your mind around finishing a 200-mile race when you’re only just starting mile one. But these Ragnar teams don’t focus on 200 miles; they focus on their own portion. And when they come to the end of the race, I’m sure they all share stories of how they made it through their part of the race. How their legs started to give out on them, or how they wanted to give up. Once the race is over, they are able to look back on how they worked together and arrived at the finish line. They always say hindsight is 20/20. When we’ve come to the end of anything in life, a difficult relationship, a project that felt it would never be finished or a ministry that sometimes feels like herding cats, we can take a look at all that has happened and evaluate the lessons learned in the process.

I wonder what would happen if a member of a Ragnar team just stopped running and decided to quit. How disappointed would the rest of the team be?

HAVE YOU EVER JUST THROWN YOUR HANDS UP AND SAID, “NOPE. ALL DONE. TOO MUCH!”

Often times we tend to give up when the finish line is within reach. But, where your mind goes, your feet will follow. Sometimes it has more to do with wrapping your mind around the task ahead and remembering that God never leaves us on our own to accomplish anything He’s called us to. When you feel like you are running out of hope and the finish line seems too far ahead, let these words from Galatians 6:9 encourage you.

“So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.”

Hang in there my friends; it is always too soon to quit.

 

 

originally posted on https://calvarychapel.com

 

Seeds of Hope

 

 

THE LOWLY DANDELION HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE FLOWERS.

While I can’t bring a bouquet of them inside and place them in a vase, I do enjoy finding one of these treasures outside. Now, I’m sure all you gardeners know a dandelion is a stubborn weed; therefore, you are probably wondering why on earth I love them so much, but just follow me for a minute. A sense of wonderment comes over me when I see one of these cotton ball blooms peeking out of a lawn or garden. I instantly want to pick it up and blow until every little part of that puffy blossom is floating on the breeze. Maybe it’s the kid in me, or maybe it’s something more. 

I recently learned from my less-than-pleased landlady that, while dandelions are a treasure for some of us, they are a curse to others.

Our newly sodded yard suddenly had dandelions popping up pretty much everywhere. She was definitely not very happy with me for allowing these weeds to live in her lawn. I began researching dandelions and found that they grow everywhere in the northern hemisphere, and they actually thrive the more you pull them!

EVEN MORE INTERESTING:

The dandelion is first a bright yellow flower that then dies and dries up, leaving it to turn into the identifiable white bulb that I am always delighted to find. Not only that, but as I found out from my sweet landlord, every time one of those white cotton candy-esque flowers is wished upon and blown, hundreds of new seeds are planted wherever the wind blows them. 

You may read all that and think two things: 1) Duh. And 2) “Okay, Shannon, that’s great that you embarked on a 6th-grade-level science project research mission, but what does this have to do with anything, and why am I still reading this story?” Here’s my point. I imagine each of our lives as one of those dandelions. We are beautiful, simply because God created us. We are His, we are loved, and we can be one hundred percent secure in that love. But, we are also guaranteed some hard times in this life. We know we will face sadness, sorrow and despair, which can cause us to wither. We can be left to feel like those little white flowers, dried up and completely fragile. 

THE TRUE BEAUTY OF THE DANDELION LIES IN THE WAY THAT IT PROPAGATES.

Each of the little seeds that are sent into a flurry are shaped like a flat little umbrella. They float about until they reach a destination (unfortunately for my landlord, it’s usually the new grass). Every time an excited two-year-old or fully grown woman (sideways smile) blows on one of these puffballs, we are planting hundreds of new seeds. From something dead comes new life. Now do you see where I am going with this? Isn’t it amazing!? How many times has God used your hard times to encourage another person in their struggles? God takes our dried up, broken down, dead lives, and allows us to plant new life in someone else, but we have to die first.

IT IS NO MYSTERY TO GOD IN WHO YOUR LIFE WILL TOUCH.

The seeds of hope that came from your tragedy will take off and land and take root wherever God has intended for them to land. That seed of hope will take root and cause the receiver to grow stronger.

Now do you see why I love dandelions so much? We are all little dandelions that go through seasons of growth, change, death and rebirth. God is constantly causing us to grow, walking with us through our hurts and using us to bring hope, always. I am more than willing to be broken for a time if it causes another person to find new hope and a renewed life. After today, may your view of the dandelion be forever changed! When you are aching for Jesus to take the pain and make you new, remember that He is doing just that. The seeds He is planting in you will go farther and reach more people than you could ever imagine.

 

This article first appeared on CalvaryChapel.com.  Click the link for more great articles.

Comfort of Familiarity

I typically loathe routine.  The same thing again and again makes me lose my mind a little.  I even rebel against my own plans.  For example I can make a to-do list for the day and then say "psshh!  You can't tell me what to do.  I'm not doing laundry today, today I'm watching Netflix".  You see, I thrive in the last minute, and I am in love with spontaneity.  Give me a spur of the moment coffee date, not a lunch date planned months in advance.  

 

That being said...there is something comforting about routine, something grounding about familiarity.  There's nothing and no one I am more familiar with than my husband Jessie, who I've been married to for 17 years as of today!  

 

Being familiar with my husband goes beyond knowing how he takes his coffee.  (It's black by the way, just like mine). What I mean is, I can spot him in a sea of surfers just by the way he moves from paddling out to sitting on his surfboard.  From across a crowded room I can find him by the way he crosses his arms and gently pushes his shoulders back, then lifts one arm to his chin when he's intently listening.  I know that whenever I'm away, even if it's just a weekend, I'll get a text from him telling me he misses me.  When I place my hand on his knee in the car, he'll always cover it with his hand.  These little bits of predictability bring little hugs of comfort and contentment.

 

This morning we were a tad jet lagged from a Costa Rican family vacation.  So we got up early and headed to our favorite little coffee shop to steal a few moments before the day officially started.  We sat and talked and laughed, took a selfie and shared a kiss and an "I love you" or two.  We talked about how it's taken us this long to get past accepting our differences and graduate to celebrating them.  

 

So here's to 17 years of finding comfort in the familiar.  Here's to having fought for hope when there seemed to be none and being generous with forgiveness when it didn't come easy.  Here's to loving the routine when escape seems tempting, and to embracing the next 17 years that God has planned that we can't even begin to imagine! 

 

 

Coffee & cheers to 17 years! 

Coffee & cheers to 17 years! 

Try to Stay

I'm a runner.  Not a marathon runner.  I run from life.  I run when things get hard.  I run away when I don't know how to fix something.  I'm like "yep, I'm out."

 

"Not Good Enough" by Joy Williams  is an inspiring song for runners like me. It's a story of staying when it's hard.  Of looking how far you've come & pushing forward even and especially when it hurts.  

 

don’t you try to look away
don’t try to leave
try to stay

-Joy Williams

 

 

 

Trying to stay takes so much more courage and straight up gumption than trying to leave.  An amazing relationship has been tested by fire, and has come out like pure gold.  Does it get tarnished from time to time...yes, of course!  But all it needs is some time and hard work and you can have that gold shining again.  

 

Thats the the catch isn't it. The choice to work hard.  The choice to stay.  

 

Heres the deal friends.  Ultimately, our choice is nothing without the power of God working in our lives to make the hard work possible. And it all comes back to love.  Not our human love, but God's love.  God's unwavering, unending love for us makes us capable of loving another human deeper than we ever thought we could.  When our heart more than anything wants to run, our knowledge of God and the wisdom from God should remind us that we can stay, we can work hard.  

 

there is no fear in love
perfect love casts out all fear
-1 John 4:18-


I have proven time and time again that I can't perfectly love anyone, not even my dog.  Only God can do that.  And when I choose to love God back, he makes me capable to love, He gives me the desire to be faithful, and He gives me the strength to stay again, even if I've already laced up my running shoes.


What is God to you?

While everyone else is talking about the bare red cups from Starbucks, I've got my mind on something that i dare say is a lot more important. That being said, I am pretty darn sure that buying a cup of coffee from an establishment regardless of what embellishments are, or are not present on said disposable cup (that will eventually end up in the trash) will not keep you from getting into Heaven.  Ok, now that that is out of the way, here's what's got me thinking.

 

I've heard more than a few people recently say things like "to you God may be Jesus, to someone else God may be a tree, or God may be the smile on their baby's face."  I've heard people say that there is a Scripture in the Bible that says this very thing.  And that motivating, self-helpisms are pretty much the same as Scriptures in the Bible.  Back the heresy truck up...what?!  Not. The. Same.  

 

I'm sure this belief has been around forever, and I am just late in the game, but here's what I have to say, for what it's worth.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God can be whatever suits you best.  Nowhere does it say that God is a tree, or God is a sunset, or God is a rushing river, or a baby's smile. Sure, if you get outside when you're having a tough day and watch the sunset, you will feel refreshed.  If you dip your toes into a refreshing river on a hot day, you will feel energized.  And no one ever looked into a baby's face, saw them smile and didn't feel their heart warmed instantly.  But none of those things on their own will do you any good when you need help, guidance or wisdom in life.  None of those things will come to your rescue when you need it.  But God, who created the world, and everything in it, (including you) CAN rescue you!  

 

See, we get things a little mixed up.  Think of it this way:  Let's say you walked into an art gallery and admired a beautiful sculpture.  Then you began telling the sculpture what a good job it had done.  You just showered it with praise at the way it was chiseled so perfectly, and how no detail was spared.  Now imagine the sculptor himself came up and said "do you like it?  I created this!"  Let's just say that you whipped your head around, gave the sculptor a quick once-over, and a disapproving glance as if to say "Do you mind?!" and then continued on telling the sculpture what a great sculpture it was?  It is the same thing when we call creation "God".  Not only is it an insult to the very Creator of the entire Universe, but when we rely on something/someone that can offer us no help in time of need, we will be sorely disappointed.

 

Beyond that, I truly believe that Satan is stoked when we allow ourselves to believe tiny bits and pieces of the Bible, usually the ones that fit into our life.  Because a lie that is sandwiched between some truth seems a lot more believable.  And as long as he can keep us busy making motivating posters with quotes we found on Pinterest instead of reading God's Word for help and guidance, then we aren't much of a worry for him.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good quote from Pinterest.  My favorite is the one Abraham Lincoln wrote that said "Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it."  (wink, wink) 

a lie that is sandwiched between some truth seems a lot more believable

 

The Bible is not a cut and paste art project.  I believe it truly is the Word of God and it is for YOU!  If you're looking for a Scripture in the Bible that says that we all see God differently, that I may think of Him as a tree, you may see Him as a bubbling brook, blah blah blah...you won't find one.  What you will find is a verse in Romans that talks about His creation, and the way it proves God's very existence, so that none of us has an excuse to not believe in Him!  I encourage you to go give Romans 1: 20-32 a read when you have a minute.  It gives us a glimpse into just how slippery the slope of watering down God's Word, and denying His very existence can be.  Don't believe it just because I said so, go read it for yourself.

 

Complete in Jesus,

Shannon

 

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God

 

 

A glimpse of my recent trip to Israel.  Just a little bit of proof that God is real & His creation is stunning!  

A glimpse of my recent trip to Israel.  Just a little bit of proof that God is real & His creation is stunning!  

Mom's Choice

In less than a month, I'll be heading to Israel for the first time!  As if that wasn't exciting enough, I get to go with my Dad!  I keep telling my siblings that he's taking me with him because I'm his favorite!  While that may well be true, (hee hee) the purpose for this trip is much more meaningful.  I will be leading worship at a Pro-Life Conference that my Dad is speaking at.  Rather than trying to explain why it's special for me to be invited along, I thought I'd let my mom tell the story.  After all I wasn't even born yet!  So I'll turn today's blog over to my beautiful Mom. But before that, here's a brief introduction.

 

Meet my mom Joy.  She is a pastor's wife, and mom to four grown kids.  She has overcome much in her life to become a wise woman who loves Jesus and wants her life to reflect Him.  Though I was an expert eye roller, and skilled back talker, she never gave up on me.  I'm sure she probably has calloused knees from praying for me relentlessly.  She gives and gives.  That's my mom, and now, here's her story.

Meet my mom Joy.  She is a pastor's wife, and mom to four grown kids.  She has overcome much in her life to become a wise woman who loves Jesus and wants her life to reflect Him.  Though I was an expert eye roller, and skilled back talker, she never gave up on me.  I'm sure she probably has calloused knees from praying for me relentlessly.  She gives and gives.  That's my mom, and now, here's her story.

 

 

I’m excited to get the chance to tell you my story.  Bill and I had been married for about 6 months when I became pregnant with our first child Bethany.  When she was about 7 months old, I had a suspicion that I was pregnant again.  There were no in-home pregnancy tests at that time, so I headed off to the doctor’s office to confirm the pregnancy.  The nurse came in and told me that, yes, I was indeed pregnant…again!  Her next words shocked me to the core.

 

“You know you don’t have to keep this one.  You have your hands full with your first born, and you can have another one when it’s more convenient, or you’re better set financially.”  

 

Shocked, I didn’t hesitate for a second.  “No thank you.” was my response.

 

“Are you sure?”  She asked.  “It’s a simple procedure.”

 

“Why would i do that?  I didn’t plan this child, but God did.”  I said

 

“Well…what if it has something wrong with it?  You could know that beforehand, and then you could…”

 

I interrupted her sharply  “And then, I would still give birth to, and raise this child.”

 

“Well, it’s up to you.”  She said reluctantly shrugging her shoulders.

 

“Yes, it is!  And I will NOT abort this child.”  I replied firmly.

 

I am thankful everyday that I made the choice for the sanctity of life.

I didn’t plan this child, but God did.

 

You’ve seen Shannon, you’ve heard her sing.  You should hear her teach the Word of God!  Had I made a different decision, I would’ve robbed the world of this voice.  I would have robbed myself of the joys of her childhood, and watching her grow up into the wonderful woman she is.  I would have robbed Jessie, her husband of a wonderful wife.  I would’ve robbed myself of two awesome grand daughters.  The offer was there to "make my life easier", but look at what I would have missed out on.  I’m so thankful I chose life!

 

God bless you guys, and keep doing great things for God.

Joy

 

My Mom and I have been excited to be able to do retreats and women's events together.  She preaches, I sing!  It's pretty special to be able to work alongside your family!

My Mom and I have been excited to be able to do retreats and women's events together.  She preaches, I sing!  It's pretty special to be able to work alongside your family!

 

 

P.S.  

I know the subject of abortion is a sensitive one.  I am completely aware that the choice my mom made is not the choice that perhaps you made.  I want to be sure that you know that in writing this post, I am in no way judging or condemning you for your choice.  We all make choices in life that we wish we could undo.  Trust me, I have made my fair share and then some.  The beauty of having faith that Jesus is real and that all He said is true, is that you don't have to carry the shame from your past.  I would LOVE to chat with you about this if you have any questions or just want to share your story.  We all have our stories, and that's what makes us all so uniquely beautiful!   

He's Got This

I'm just going to get to the point today.  Sometimes life just sucks.  We all know this, but we don't say it because it seems unspiritual.  But that's the truth, there ya go, I said it for you.  You're welcome.

 

Things don't go as planned.  Disappointment comes.  Despair follows close behind.  Then what?

 

Here's the deal you guys:  God created the entire universe.  He knows every intricate part of how it all holds together.  Things that scientists can't figure out, God knows.  He must sit up in Heaven and say "Aww, look at those cute scientists trying to figure it all out, I can't wait to tell them one day".

 

He also created you.  

He knows you.  

He loves you. 

He sees you.  

He knows what may be ripping your heart out.  

He knows that you wish you could scream from the rooftops "I AM NOT OK!"   

And one more really important thing to remember. . .

He's got this.

 

Doesn't matter how big or how small your crisis is, it's still your crisis, and it is so very real.  I get it.  It's hard to explain because people want to understand but they can't.  You have to carry on with life, smile when you don't want to, laugh when you want to cry, and pretend when you have to be real. (Because let's be honest, you can't be real everywhere and with everyone).

But in the midst of crisis, it comforts me to know that God thinks about me more than I think about Him.  Psalm 139 says that the amount of times God thinks about me can't be numbered, that if I could count them, it would add up to more than the grains of sand.  That's just a stupid amount of thoughts for little old me!

He thinks about me more than I think about Him

Sometimes we don't need a big revelation, or a long Scripture, we just need to know that God is still thinking about us.  Let me reassure you today, like He reassured me, He is absolutely thinking about you today, like a lot.


"That's just a stupid amount of thoughts for little old me"

Don't be a Has Been

I used to be a lot of things.  A hardware store clerk, florist, radio DJ, Gap manager, preschool music teacher, personal trainer,  Spin instructor and pyramid scheme sucker.  I also used to be so scared of being a "has been".  You know that person who used to be really good at something but it's obvious that at some point, they lost the plot and gave up.

 

 

At my Crossfit gym, I do pull-ups, push-ups, dead lifts and more craziness alongside some people who are easily a decade or more younger than me. I could use this as an excuse, give up and say "oh those guys are in their prime".  But honestly, I say this with a little smirk on my face, and a sheepish sideways glance...it kinda brings out the beast in me!  I regularly look at the daunting WODs (that's Crossfit language for Workout Of the Day) and say, "this may be the day I won't finish" only to realize to my amazement that I indeed did finish!  As I gasp to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my brow with my chalk covered hands I'm stoked that not only did I finish, I killed it! 

 

Do I kill it every time?  Absolutely not.  That would be a blog for another day, or if you'd like to have a good laugh about my failures, go read my past blog "Beginners to the Shallow End".   That'll fulfill your desire for pointing and laughing at my expense.  I don't judge you.

 

I'm not writing this to plug my gym or brag about my strength.  I'm writing to say DON'T QUIT!  The career you chose went bust?  No one bought the book you wrote?  Your degree is useless?  I'm so genuinely sorry.  That's tough for sure, and I won't minimize that.  But, I dare you to count your losses, pick up the pieces and if necessary reinvent yourself!  You won't be the first.  

Check this out: 

 

Vera Wang didn't start her career as a designer until she was 40 years old

 

 

 

Beloved writer C.S. Lewis completed the Chronicles of Narnia when he was 58 years old

 

 

 

Kerri Walsh was 36, her teammate Misty May Treanor was 35 when they won gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games

 

 

 

Walt Disney's dream became a reality when he was 53 and Disneyland was open to the public!*

 

Oh yeah, don't forget about 90-something Sarah, from the Bible, popping out baby Isaac after she laughed at the thought of having a baby in her (very) old age.  

 

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to have a baby while I'm buying Depends in bulk,  putting in my false teeth and turning up my hearing aids to frequencies only dogs can hear.  But, I sure don't want to give up, decide that life didn't go the way I wanted and throw in the towel.  I don't want to be a has been.  I want to stay sold out for the plans I know God has ahead for me, even if it means picking up and starting all over again.

I want to stay sold out for the plans I know God has ahead for me, even if it means picking up and starting all over again.

 

All those people I talked about above come from different walks of life, different families, different pasts.  But they all have one thing in common.  They all had to be brave.  They all had to do something new and different, and I'm willing to bet that they all were terrified at least once.  

 

There is the opinion that when you are young, say 20 - 35 years old, you're in your prime.  You know what, I think you're in your prime when you decide you're in your prime.  And I choose to be in my prime today.  And tomorrow.  And the day after that.  And the next day too.  I know I will have to keep choosing to be in my prime when I am really not feeling it.  But for now, I choose to not be a has been.  You with me?

 

 

*the photos on the page are not my own.




That's my jam!

My last post was about my recent battle with depression.  I can't tell you how many people responded saying that they could relate, asking for prayer, and saying they were praying for me too!  I just knew that speaking out about something as real as my own depression would cause people to come out from the shadows and be real about their own struggles!  It was amazing how almost immediately upon posting that blog, it felt as if the fog began to lift.  You know what I mean?  I've heard it said that when a secret is no longer a secret it loses its power over you.  Well, that proved true after being transparent with you all!

 

It was like coming back to the land of the living, or joining the party that was already going on.  I was kind of like this little girl who was in a dead sleep, but then they played her jam!  (which coincidentally is also indeed my jam)   She didn't even know she was missing such a great dance party, until her favorite song came on.  Once she heard it loud and clear, she danced with those sweet slippers like no one was watching.  (my favorite way to dance).

 

So, I guess with this blog, I want to challenge you a little bit.  Transparency isn't something that comes easy, but it gives freedom.  Freedom from trying to live up to who people think you are.  Freedom from who you wish you were.  Freedom to be who you are in the moment knowing that your life is held safe and secure in the palm of the Creator's hands.  Hiding in the shadows never got anybody anywhere.  You know who hides in the shadows?  Those who don't want to be found, and also cat burglars, they hide in shadows too.  Since I am assuming that most of you are not dressed in all black with a black ski mask waiting to burglarize a Circle K, then I'll go with the first thought.  Do you not want to be found...or found out?  Can I be real with you for a second.  God knows, cherishes and desires the real you.  He desires for you to be found.  He knows that when we isolate and lurk in the shadows of depression, fear, anxiety and the like, we will get further and further from the light that He offers to shine into that darkness.

 

God knows, loves, cherishes and desires the real you

Don't misunderstand me.  I'm not challenging you to start a blog, post it on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  I am challenging you to open up to ONE person.  Choose one person who is close enough to know your heart, and love you enough to listen without judgement.  Maybe you think you don't have one person that you can really be open with.  Chances are, you probably have more than one person, who would love to listen, if you gave them the chance.  Sometimes we assume people will judge us before we even give them a chance, and trust them to be a great friend.  BUT, if you really don't have one safe person in your circle of friends, I am absolutely here.  Click here to get in touch with me directly, I would absolutely love to hear from you.  I mean it!  I want you to experience the freedom I felt when I took off my giant backpack called "Depression".  Yours may have a different name, maybe it's fear, anxiety, sin, your past experiences, or maybe it's that awful ex-boyfriend's name.  No matter what it's called, it's heavy isn't it?  I would love to help you unload that heaviness just by simply being a safe, listening ear.  

 

Until then, turn up your jam and get your dance on!