Saturday, August 5, 2017

God's Whispers.

At some point I'll share the [honestly, fascinating] journey that God has led me on the last few months, but I can't do that yet because I haven't even had a chance to tell one of the main people of that story... well, the story.But until then, I'll share lessons and stories as they come. This one is... recent. Like D A Y S recent.

So God kept whispering to me and guiding me and nudging me throughout my most recent journey, including the job I've now had for 3 days. <3 [A categorical (1:1) para professional in a special ed preK classroom.] I knew from the first email re: an interview that this was where I was supposed to be. THE FIRST EMAIL.

So the couple of weeks come and go... God heard my (and yours!) cries and expedited paperwork and credits and honestly, just EVERYTHING for me to start on the first day as every one else. I WAS SO EXCITED.

Then, all the HR paperwork (W4s, insurance) was taking forever to find online -- nevermind, to fill out and send in.

Then I asked the coordinator, "So... when is my first paycheck? It's before the 30 day deadline, right?"

Coordinator: "Oh ma'am.... I honestly don't know."

CUE TEARS.
CUE HEARING GOD WHISPER, "I've got this Shauna, I've got this."

I walk back to the classroom saying to myself, "God's got this Shauna, He's got this. He's led you this far."

The next few hours as friends text or call, I say, "Hey, will you pray... I don't know know when I'm getting paid..."

Finally, in texting a friend and hitting "SEND", I can't do it anymore, as the tears are running down my face... I quickly text her right back, "I'm sorry. Forgive me. God keeps whispering to me that He's got this."

Fast forward to the next day, I check the mail when I get home.
There's mail for me.
That mail?
A check.
And notes of encouragement from so many of my camp family and friends.
They had taken an offering for me.
And I just happened to have received the check that day.
The day after God whispered to me.

See, the number one question I've received (actually, that's a lie, it's the 2nd most asked question) re: my journey South has been, "How did you know?" My response is almost always the same: it's a "gut thing"- and hearing His whispers. [Note: See my IG post re: God using our entire beings to speak to us, including our "guts".]

See, I think too often we view God and His working as all lightning bolts and big shouts, when honestly, I don't think He normally speaks that way. Has there been some of those moments on this journey or in my life in general? Absolutely. But have I heard His whispers in the sunset, journaling, emails, prayer time, car rides, conversations, music, silence and tears? Absolutely.

Believe me, I am no expert in hearing the voice and whisper of God.  I can probably give to you the equal amount of stories in which I ignored or couldn't hear or see Him. However, two observations that I have noticed through the years and even in this journey is: 1.)We surround ourselves with noise to the point that silence is deafening and 2.) We have lost our reverent awe and fear of God.

I'll leave you with a list of questions, a checklist of sorts.

*Do you always have the radio/music on in the car?
*Is the tv/ipad always on?
*When was the last time you just sat on the chair/couch/bed with no technology, book or distraction?

*When was the last time you read Scripture for more than 10 minutes per day?
*When was the last time you cried out to God? Or in front of Him?
*When was the last time you got on your knees or the floor to Him? Either out of despair or awe? (Both approaches show humility.)

I would love to have expanded from those questions, but this is it for now. And before you even think of it: don't contact me and flood me with "my kids are everywhere! My kids are loud!": I am a firm believer of seasons of life. But do I think these questions do a tremendous job of probing where some pride may need to be broken or let go of. In fact, I would push you further: if any of these questions caused a flare up in you, either of wanting to push back or say, "nah", I would challenge you to ask God to search your heart and reveal it to you. It could be you are right- and I believe you could be.

Or it could be that your life is too loud to hear God's Whispers.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Lesson on Honoring God.

God's been challenging me on something the past...mmm year?

 And the issue is this: Am I being who God has called me to be? Or, am I trying to be what others (or I think others) want me to be?

And to be genuinely honest in this, my most recent/common area of this is being single. And the backstory to this is, well: I've had several men tell me (Christian and non-Christian) phrases like, "I would've never date you... you would've intimidated me" or "Well, I can see how you would intimidate men...." [Insert palm-face emoji here.]

Not only is that just what every single woman wants to hear- what we actually hear is what is NOT being said:

*"You're awfully tall in heels." (actually, wait: that HAS been said to me. Also, sorry, I can't help it God designed me to be 5'8".)

*"Guys really love feeling a lot taller and stronger than their girlfriends/spouses."  (Again, I can't help the height thing and sorry that I played sports when I was younger and that I love lifting weights.)

*"Guys are too shy to approach the quiet ones..." (Sorry I'm an introvert and only on rare occasions when I first meet someone/people does an extroverted me show up. That's usually reserved for friends/family.) [But she's really fun when she does.]

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And then, enter the Christian Bubble and you hear, either from the pulpit, books or "culture",

*"Women should be like the woman in 1 Peter 3. Quiet, submissive and modest." (I'll refrain from my rant on the word "modest.")

Well, you know what: That about summarizes it right there.

And for years I became "her"... You know, the 1 Peter 3 woman (that we take WAY out of context, just an FYI). I was afraid to laugh too loud because a man might think I was drawing attention to myself. I didn't give my opinion or thought [on spiritual things] even though a.) being a daughter of God gives me that right and b.) being a 4-year Bible school graduate taught me one or two things.

And then I moved, and God ushered in a new community of friends and job- and He begin to breathe life into those fearful and insecure areas. But insecurity still had a hold on me, and it's grasp was strong at times.

A few years later, I walked away from the Lord, but by His grace, I ran back. And it wasn't until after that that I began to truly SEE, FEEL and KNOW that God loves me. Showers me with grace. And He gives His children good gifts. And then two years ago I came across a Matt Chandler sermon... and he said life changing words. [I'm summarizing].... "And to you single women, I urge  you, STOP DUMBING YOURSELF DOWN. Because this is what happens: You love the Lord but you find you're still single and not getting asked out. So you dumb yourself down, then a [dumb] guy feels bold and strong enough to approach you and so you settle. And then two years later you wake up married to a dumb guy and you're trapped... STOP DUMBING YOURSELF DOWN. It is truly better to be a strong and godly woman with a 100 cats who's doing more for the kingdom then it is to be trapped in a marriage to a dumb guy...."

And that began to set the course for walking in the freedom of being me. 5'8". strong. lover of heels. lover of study and lover of weight lifting. worship leader and dreaming of teaching women (uh, hello Christine Caine, can we chat over coffee sometime?)

But I almost battle sharing it in the perspective of being single, because, well, like most of life: our spirit and being don't compartmentalize well. So in my professional life and relationships with friends- I was that insecure, never-stood-up-for-myself, I'm always wrong kind of woman. And you know what? That's not Godly... that's not being who God called me to be.

And guess what? It's an ever-learning lesson. Just this past week I sat in Starbucks, really battling this and I began to write, "Lord... just help me to learn the balance between being me and...."--- and I realized I couldn't finish that sentence. I heard the Father whisper, "The only way to honor Me is for you to be who I created you to be. And she is tall, strong, wise and a leader."

So dear friend, know this: It only brings honor and glory to God to be the you He's created you to be.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What If?

What if?

What if showing God to someone looked like not speaking one complaint to a fellow employee? For one year? Or, one week, heck: one day?

What if showing God to someone looked like asking, "How are you doing?", even to that person who's hygiene is less than pleasant?

What if showing God to someone looked like cleaning the bathroom without complaining?

What if showing God to someone looked like letting the person in line before you even though you may be running late?

What if showing God to someone looked like volunteering at a homeless shelter? Even if it is only because God loves the poor?

What if showing God to someone looked like not giving a piece of your mind even if you may have the right to?

What if showing God to someone looked like not getting mad you got pulled over for speeding?

What if showing God to someone looked like pressing into a conversation even if you are exhausted?

What if showing God to someone looked like not posting your political opinions on social media? But instead, chose to only have political conversations in person?

What if showing God to someone looked like washing a woman's feet? A woman who had just had an abortion?



But also:



What if showing God you love Him looks like getting on your knees and praying for Trump?

What if showing God you love Him looks like you with your palms up saying, "God, everything good I have is from Your hand... show me how to bless You and others with it."

What if showing God you love Him looks like more time in His Word than watching the news?

What if showing God you love Him looks like an extra 2% in your tithing?

What if showing God you love Him looks like refusing to snap back at your kids tonight?

What if showing God you love Him looks like palms up, humbly asking, "Am I wrong about this Lord? Show me if I am!"

What if showing God you love Him looks like cancelling Netflix because that's what you look forward to the most at the end of every day?

What if showing God you love Him looks like praying for the family member who drives you insane?

What if showing God you love Him looks like...... just being with Him? No agenda. No time limit.

What if showing God you love Him looks like..... whispering thank you's to Him throughout your day?


What if?


"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you... and if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same..... but LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.....be  merciful."


Love sounds a lot like rooting for those not like you.





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

God Doesn't Use just Marrieds.

Contrary to popular belief, I'm actually pro-Valentines Day.

I love watching couples try to make the other feel important (and often, embarassed, ha!). Sometimes even us Singletons get noticed... such as the older man in the grocery store who stopped me to say, "Do colors really make a difference in the roses? Do they actually mean something?" So after telling him, "Don't get yellow: those mean friendship!" I went on to say something like, "But don't take my word for it: my favorite flower is a carnation! That's probably why I'm single!" (As I am laughing out loud by this point.) To which he responds, "Which is hard to believe, such a pretty girl like yourself!" #complimenttaken

That said, if you find yourself with someone, either married or dating and you think, "I hate Valentines Day. I love them every day: why do I have to go out of my way to show them one day a year?!" If you say that to me, I'll respond, "Why NOT go out of your any day- EVERY day to show them? Even if it is just flowers? Or a candy bar? Or doing the dishes?! WHY NOT?!"

For those of us that are single, however, depending on where we are mentally, spiritually, etc: Valentines can be a really, really hard day. I look back on my life and I'm just so grateful for the grace that God has poured over me... for even the work that I have done to get to where I am today.. that today, February 14, 2017: I am not bitter that I am single.

Some of you reading this may be divorced or separated. Some of you reading this may be a widow or a widower and for you, dear reader: I have no words. I can not imagine the pain that you have gone through, the thoughts you hear and have had to conquer or push away. But there is always hope. But not the hope you immediately think of.. you know, the-meeting-your-future-spouse-sort-of-hope... but the deep-rooted, God-inspired hope that He is for you, not against you (Psalm 56:9)... the hope that reminds you God has a purpose and plan for you (Psalm 139; Philippians 2:12,13) and that God is not done working on you (Philippians 1:6).

My best friend has encouraged me in the past to perhaps do more writing on explaining to marrieds/society what it's like to be single in today's culture.. especially, the Christian Culture. Perhaps someday I will, but for now, to you married's, I will exhort you to know and realize: Marriage is NOT a stage of life. God does NOT have marriage for everyone... including but not limited to, those who have the deep desire for it. Desires are not necessarily from God- neither are they evil if not: they are sometimes, just that: human desires. So again, please know that marriage is not a stage. No where in Scripture do we find, "When you turn ___ age or When you hit this level of maturity then you'll get married." But also, for the record, neither will you find, "If you just have more faith, if you just keep asking" or my [least] favorite, "If you just forget about men [or women], then that person will come into  your life.  SIDE NOTE: IF YOU DARE SAY THIS TO MY FACE, YOU MAY END UP WITH A BROKEN NOSE. End Note. (And also, because Scripture would push us to press IN to those desires and to ask God to fulfill our petition and need, but, that's another blog for another time.)

But dear Singles, we TOO have a responsibility: TO LIVE THE LIFE HE HAS CALLED US TO LIVE: RIGHT NOW. (Marrieds: this goes for you as well, as we all know that "the best is yet to come" thought does not end with "I Do's".) We can not live our lives in the future- we can only live them right now. We can not be entrusted with future responsibilities (get marriage out of your mind) if we are not being faithful where we currently are. If we are not grateful now with what and Whom (and whoms, that's right, I made up a word) He has given us NOW, then we will never be grateful later in life, even if/when you have them.

Have you ever come across an ungrateful person? A person who is always complaining? A person who sours your next few minutes to hours after coming away from them? Then know this, dear reader: you will become that very person if you do not check yourself.

So maybe tonight dear reader, you need to grab your Bible or watch a sermon online to distract yourself from watching a Hallmark movie. (Or just write a blog post like I've just done;) Or maybe you just need to hit your knees and pray for God's peace to wrap you up tonight. You know what, maybe you just need to throw on a war movie (like I do nearly ever Valentines Day)... and you know what? That's okay. God has you in His hand. He knows your heart, your desires-- and He knows how and when He'll fulfill or even change those desires.

Rest tonight, beloved. For He gives to His beloved rest. (Psalm 4:8)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weight vs. Sin

 "...Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus..." Hebrews 12:1b



Did you catch it? Did you catch that the words "weight" and "sin" are separate? Did you see that they are separated by a comma? DO NOT MISS THAT: THAT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Go ahead and read it again. I'll wait.

Okay, but really. They are two separate words. Two separate definitions. 

weight: Gk. onkon = bulk, encumbrance
sin: Gk amartian = sin, failure

Let me tell you, I've have had a journey with these words. This verse has liberated me time and time again and it [Lord willing] always will. 

I often teach the practical difference of these two words in one shot. I HATE RUNNING OR WORKING OUT WITH LONG SLEEVES ON. Like, hate hate hate! Now for me, I'm not a professional runner or professional weight lifter. But here's the thing: running or lifting weights with long sleeves on isn't wrong, in fact, A LOT of people wear them when working out. But for me? IT'S A HINDRANCE. I get too hot, or I have to keep pushing my sleeves up, etc. Do you see what I'm saying here? 

There are things in our lives as believers that we do which is SIN. Engaging in gossip, sex outside of marriage, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, coveting, etc: these things are sin. HINDRANCES, however, do not necessarily look like these. Let me give a few examples from my own journey in this.

Hindrances for me look like: going home every night from work and just watching tv or movies. Hindrances to me look like sleeping in til the last second, every day before work (so I don't have my quiet time). Hindrances to me look like watching rated R movies or tv shows. Hindrances to me look like binge watching romantic Hallmark movies. Hindrances to me look like leaving immediately after church on Sundays (repeatedly) and not engaging with those around me. 

Are these things sin? Not at all. But what I found in my life was that I wasn't purposely being with God or studying more about Him. I wasn't forcing myself to get to know Him and His thoughts, His dreams for me or His word. I found myself with so much alone time that I just talked to myself all the time about how little my job paid, how I'm single when all my friends are married and how God was at work in everyone else's lives except my own. All I did was focus on what I didn't have instead of what I DID have.

It was around this time that I encountered two life-changing things: the Experiencing God study, and God's voice in my mind telling me, "Put away the tv/movies Monday through Thursday". 

In the EG study, you are challenged to pray, "God, open my eyes to where You are at work around me and in me" DAILY. So then, in combination with eliminating the tv and movies, I found myself being so much more aware of His presence in my world- and my life. More and more I found myself disliking the sin of sex, infidelity and selfish living that is so promoted in so much of our tv and movies today. I was reading more and more, be it novels or be it Christian Living books or books about God. 

There was less trash in my brain, and noticing more and more of God at work. 

These are just simple examples from my simple life of what the differences are between sin and weight (hindrances). I have many, many more, as I am sure so do you. And you know what? We'll never be perfect. We'll never attain perfection and never sin while here on this earth, but what we ARE called to do is to run the race that is set before us

So dear Beloved, begin to peel off that which is not only wrong, but also which hinders. Experience the freedom the God longs for you to live in. Let my life be an example to you that it IS possible.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. (Gal 5:1) 

Bondage and complacency was never meant to be comfortable or livable. 






Thursday, September 15, 2016

34 Blessings!

3-4

Like, 34 years of being alive.
I'm impressed, actually.

Well, every year I begin my "come back" from taking a hiatus in writing, and write a post on the number of blessings (corresponding to the number of years I've been alive, of course) that happened the previous year. (I also always vow to write and post more frequently, insert eye-rolling emoji here.)

In no particular order, here we go:

1.) I'm still alive. (Actually, I'd rather be with Jesus, but, I'll take this.)
2.) Pretty sure I figured out my allergy, or at least, discovered what was making me borderline miserable. (Thanks Dairy, thanks  A  LOT.)
3.) Survived a re-hurt heart.
4.) Grew closer to a family that I have come to thoroughly enjoy and respect.
5.) Helped lead worship at my favorite day-of-the-year event: Simply Worship. (That was a Top 10 life-moment for me, really.)
6.) Had an amazing Thanksgiving. #somuchlaughter
7.) Grew closer to my BFFL (of now 15 years)
8.) Spoke up for myself more than I ever have. (And have SO FAR left to go).
9.) Got an under-cut hairstyle.
10.) Got an A-symmetrical hairstyle.
11.) Got more white hair. (Seriously, I love it now.)
12.) Got to be a shoulder for a couple of people to cry on. (I recommend being that person to others. It reminds you there's more to life than what just you're going through.
13.) COFFEE
14.) COFFEE
15.) COFFEE
16.) Which reminds me: I found out Gilmore Girls is coming out with 4 new episodes. (Hey, don't judge!)
17.) Realized how  much I love my co-workers even more than I thought.
18.) Had some AMAZING kids in my room.
19.) Learned to deadlift.
20.) Learned that sometimes it really is possible to agree to disagree.
21.) READ SOME AMAZING AMAZING BOOKS. (Harry Potter, Narnia, Lone Survivor, the Last Jihad, just to name a few.)
22.) Bought  my first pair of Converse.
23.) Had some amazing quiet times with God Almighty.
24.) Had an AMAZING summer at camp.
25.) WATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND WATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER ANDWATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER ANDWATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER ANDWATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER ANDWATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER ANDWATCHED GOD PROVIDE FOR ME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND.... No guys, #BUTREALLY
26.) Applied to a Worship School
27.) Got accepted to said Worship School.
28.) Watched as my Church family grew and grew closer to God.
29.) Met some amazing new people.
30.) Got my favoritist bedroom that I have ever had.
31.) Learned that it's okay to enjoy time off and not feel guilty. (Wait, I'm still learning that?!)
32.) Got a new lap top. The kind in which you touch the screen.  A M A Z I N G!!! (Just one problem though: I forget all the others DON'T!)
33.) Learned (moreso) that life was truly created to be lived in community: not by yourself. (That's PRIDE. That's a sin. That causes you to be more like the Devil than God. Just sayin'.)
34.) Realizing that I can't pick which blessing to end on isn't really a problem-- it's a blessing.

So Lord, as I enter this year: make me more like You. Help me to love you more this year than I did last year. Open my eyes to how you see others: and give me your heart to serve them. Burden me who to pray for and how- and when. And Lord? Even so, come.

<3

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Act of Studying

People who are in love study each other. Have you ever noticed that?

They spend time with each other. They watch them: how they act, react and rest. How they are with their friends and how they are with strangers. What makes them laugh, cry and even tick. What makes them feel confident and what makes them feel insecure. What dreams they have to pursue and what scares them into not wanting to try.

Heck, even if you have just a solid crush and are intrigued by someone you do that.

Just in a new friendships we do that.

So, dear Beloved one of God:

How come we don't study Him?

Before I really begin, know this: studying God can many times lead to knowing about Him and just trying to please Him: That is not what I want our "end game" to be.

But let's take a look at our Bibles, shall we? What is most marked? Most memorized? Is it the four books of the New Testament? Perhaps Psalm 23 or Psalm 139, for when we need comfort or a confidence boost? What about Philippians 4:13, of course: we need that verse for when we feel like we can't do something, right?

Here's the shame in this: THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF VERSES THAT WE HAVE PROBABLY NEVER READ: AND GOD BREATHED THOSE VERSES INTO BEING.

I get it, believe me, I do. I even graduated from a four-year intensive studying Bible school, and I can't always explain every verse, every story, every law and every person. I can say this, however: every word is important. Every person is important. Every law is important. Every parable is important. Every confusing scripture and story in Revelation is important.

Don't take my word for it. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (and woman) of God may be complete [and] equipped..." There you have it my friend. It doesn't say, "The New Testament scripture only is breathed out by God..." It doesn't say, "Just the red letters are breathed out by God..." It doesn't say, "Just the nice stories are breathed out by God..." And it definitely doesn't say, "Only the stuff you understand is breathed out by God."

ALL. All means All. 

And again, I get it. Old Testament? Some of those chapters and books are SO HARD to understand. So much blood. So many rules. The first 11 chapters of Genesis are THE most debated and torn apart Scriptures throughout History. But do you know why? Do you know what you believe? Do you believe in a literal 6-day Creation or do you believe that there was some time for the dinosaurs to live and go extinct? Do you know why God commanded there to be the shedding of blood for forgiveness? (And how that explains why Jesus had to shed His blood for us?)

Do you understand why the Jews went from loving Jesus to demanding His death? Do you understand how incredibly important it is to understand what is going on in the Middle East today (which begins in, Genesis.) Do you understand why claiming Philippians 4:13 just to help get you through the day is actually taking it out of context? Have you even attempted to study the Book of Revelation? Do you understand who "the Woman and the Dragon" are? Do you understand the difference between the Bema Seat and the Great White Throne judgement? Do you believe in the physical return of Jesus? Do you know what the last sentence of the Bible is?

Do you know that Scripture wasn't written in English? That in the New Testament, for example, the Greek word for love has four different definitions? Do you know that in knowing some of the original language(s) can radically change the context of a verse?

Yes, I know, dear friend, that we can totally get carried away in our "studying for and of the Lord". I understand that we can focus so much on translations, stories and interpretations that we begin to debate and argue with fellow believers, even non-believers. I don't agree in breaking fellowship with another Christian friend just because they believe in the "Gap Theory" (that God sort of took a break from creating for a few "years" after Genesis 1:2). However, I don't agree with just, "well, someday it'll all just be figured out" or the, "Well, that won't help me grow closer to God: that'll just confuse me, so I don't worry about it." (In fact, I beg to differ on that! Big Time!)

I'm also not saying that we all need to desire to be like CS Lewis or a John Piper (or my friend JohnMark). We don't all need to be the deepest and most introspective believers that we know. We don't have to memorize entire books of the Bible to impress God or to show that we love Him.

But just like a husband and wife can't ignore all the fears, pet peeves and hard truths about their spouse: Neither can we just close a blind eye to that which God has revealed about Himself-- in and through His Word.

"Incline [our] heart(s) to Your Testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn [our] eyes from looking at worthless things; and give [us] life in Your ways... [May] our hearts stand in awe of Your words. [May we] rejoice at Your word like one who finds great spoil." Psalm 119:36-37,161-162


-----------------

Don't be afraid to read books, commentaries or even write your pastors or others! I would suggest reading even varying view points, all while asking the Spirit to bring more of Himself in "wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of [Jesus], having the eyes of your heart enlightened." Ephesians 1:17,18a