Monday, November 26, 2012

A Rabbi's Prayer.

I found this in Brennan Manning's, "the Ragamuffin Gospel" several years ago.
It never ceases to stop me in my tracks and either convict me- or motivate me.

Soak it up. Believe it. Pray it.

“Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of Your universe. Delight me to see how Your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to the Father through the features of men’s faces. Each day enrapture me with Your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all."--Rabbi Joshua Abraham Heschel

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Living in the Journey while Seeing the Destination.

Today I went on the most beautiful run I've ever taken. There is nothing quite like a warm, fall day in New England. The backroads mostly taken over by fallen leaves. The scent of wet leaves & roads drying filled my senses with hope and comfort.

Admist the tugging by the dog and the stitches in my side, God once again chose to use this most beautiful morning to talk with me.

As I was running and praying (and just plain trying to breathe) I was expressing my frustration about a situation in my life and ever so gently He said, "Shauna: I just want you to be you. Stop trying to be who you want to become and be you."

Recent conversations with people in my life have been reminding me that life is lived in the present on the journey, while looking forward to the promise of the destination. Sometimes, however, I really struggle with this.

We as believers always need that push to become more like Christ and to pray for "peace, patience, gentleness, etc.", but we also need the reminder that we can only live in the present. I remember some years ago, for several years actually, I was trapped in insecurities and fears, and one of them being, the fear of never being married because I wasn't that "gentle and quiet spirit" that the Apostle Paul talked about in 1 Peter 3. For years I prayed to become more gentle and quiet.... and to a certain extent I did: but it nearly choked me.

Through God's amazingness and His people, I became more confident in who God made me. (Note: this was not a one night life-change: this took months and this journey isn't over yet.) I remember the first time when I had a real crush on a guy a few years back and coming out of this, and me telling my best friend how "he probably just thinks I'm an idiot seeing as I'm always making a fool out of myself." My best friend's response? "Shauna, you know what I love about you and this situation right now? That you are making a fool out of yourself! You are finally being yourself and not worrying in the moment what he thinks of you."

What had happened to me is I became so wrapped up in trying to become who I thought I should become that I supressing the person that I was. The scariness of us believers in doing this is that we ever so slowly become fake. We become alike. The reality is that God created individuals to express His creativity and His love and to be anything less (or more) than what we are is to pretend, or believe even, that God doesn't know what He's doing.

Do not misunderstand me: I am not giving people license to sin, go against Scripture or to not practice and pray what God has called us to practice and pray in Scripture. What I challenge you with is: Are you trying to become someone different in your own strength? or are you allowing God to use you how you, where you are, while He does the work through you?

"...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." -Philippians 1:6

Thursday, October 4, 2012


You know it's funny.

One moment we can be mad at the world & all of humanity and in a split second, a friend makes you laugh and life is suddently beautiful.

Or, how about those moments that you lay in bed wide awake... dreaming of.... I don't know: what should be? What life could be? And you long for a place where you feel you've been... yet you've never really been there. Or you see yourself how you wish you could be: braver, stronger, beautiful, fearless.... and then you fall asleep: dream of being that warrior or princess and then wake up to your raging alarm clock and realize what was just so vivid and tangible no longer exists. In fact, it isn't real.

I know what you all are thinking, "Shauna: come on... a bit 'Eldridge-esque', don't you think? In fact: I would completely agree with you. However, every fiber of my being screams out: "We weren't created for this world!"

And today: Today I caught a glimpse of what we were created for. Intimacy. Love. Freedom. Worship.

It's funny how I walked through the first few hours at church with my emotions of "Crap! I hate being single today!" "Crap! I have to go to work today!" Yet at the same time knowing... mmm, no, aware? mmm... nope: sensing that Jesus was there. So was His Father. And so was the Spirit. Something was going to happen. The feeling of inadaquacy can be a beautiful freedom when you know that the Three Most Beautiful Persons in all (and out) of, well, existence is there watching you. More than that in fact: They are longing for you to just...just be.

It's alarming and frightening and relaxing and beautiful, all at the same time.

As I look back on this morning, I remembered that the Scripture that was read aloud wasn't Scripture about us humans--but HIM. I guess I've just begun to realize so often that we put ourselves in Scripture. "He loves you" (yes! He loves mmeee!) "He died for you" (yes! He died for meeee!). Do not misunderstand me: He did (and does) each of those actions. But what about remembering that, well, it's all about Him? He is the one (that loves us)... He is the one (that died...) He is the one who is literally holding our bodies together at this precise moment as we read this note... He is the one spoke creation out of N-O-T-H-I-N-G. He is the One whom we will cast down our crowns at His feet..

So as you walk through today and find yourself longing for what (or who) you do not have: just remember: You truly were made for Someone and for a place you have yet to call "Home".

"Even so, Come..."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Are You Afraid to Live Because You're Afraid to Die?

Are you afraid to live because you're afraid to die?

I never thought that this statement, well, question would've or could've ever been said of me, but I believe it can describe me.

Let me back up. This past weekend I had an Encounter with God while doing one of the most random activities ever: Jeeping. I know, right? So, jeeping (for those non-hicks out there) is just that: Jeeping. On Saturday morning, about 20 of us left around 7:30 in the morning, drove 2 hours to a town in Western Massachusetts, unloaded the jeeps off the their trailers and started, well... driving. I mean, like, barely driving, really, on these trails with rocks and boulders five to six feet high .... a swamp or two... random fallen trees and branches... Obstacles that normal vehicles can't drive over and what make Jeeps look just plain awesome.

It it only takes a few feet heading into this path that the Jeeps all have to stop (we all get out except the driver and perhaps one passenger) and one Jeep at a time, try to drive over a huge boulder. And of course, sometimes the Jeeps need a little help. Maybe it was one or a few of us throwing rocks down for the tires to grip on or it was another Jeep having to pull another Jeep over and/or out of it. Whatever it was: Each Jeep made it (mmm, that's a lie: one Jeep didn't make it through.) out of the few mile trek. Maybe with even having to be pulled along: but each Jeep made it.

And there was a point that I remember just standing and watching the guys working on a Jeep and looking around at nature and all of the random people put together for this trip and I heard a whisper: "You are still that little girl with an adventurous and curious spirit that I love..."

It was at that point that I asked myself, "What have I been afraid of then?" The answer? There are a few.... dying... failing... missing out on what I wasn't living.

Let me back up for a minute. All growing up I was a daydreamer. I remember locking myself in my parents room and pretending I was a singer recording a music video... and I would play outside until I could hear my parents yelling for me to come in. I also remember though, being terrified to drive long distances and/or be away from my parents for any long amount of time. I even remember having to come home for a night from my camp that was just 20 minutes away--just because I was homesick. Then at 14 years old I began going to a camp that was an hour away and I was scared: but I did it. (That camp, Living Waters Bible Conference in Danforth, ME is now the place I call "home", just as a shameless plug.) I remember as a Freshmen at New Brunswick Bible Institute being terrified to do just a two-week tour to Quebec and Ontario in 15 passenger vans. And I truly had to come to grips with the fact that if the Lord wanted me to die: I was going to die. Whether it was on tour or my crossing the street across from my house. That summer (2002) I spent a summer at a camp in NH: 6 hours away from home. And guess what: I loved it. The summer after that: I spent just outside of NYC and the Fall after that? I travelled about 9000 miles: from the East to West Coast and Back to New Zealand and Fiji as well. I've travelled to about 35 States, most of the Eastern Side and Islands of Canada, a few days in Mexico and the big jump: I moved to Southern California without knowing a soul.

I came to crave and love adventure.
My fears of dying while traveling were always there: but I never let them take precedent.

So what happened to me?

Well, on a big-scale: I let my lack of proximity to friends and finances (and sleep) rule my life. I became so obsessed with just merely surviving day to day that I forgot my God is a pretty big God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and feeds the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26). Also, God is my Father, Who loves me and has plans to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) and Who wants to give me life abundantly (John 10:10). And oh yes, lest I forget:  My God is the God who can (and does) do "exceedingly, abundantly above all that [I] can ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20)

My pastor recently challenged us to change things up in our lives: "Do the opposite of what you would normally do. If you normally read a book, watch a movie. If you're wanting to just stay home: go out... Get out of your comfort zones. Know yourself: but change it up."

Back to Jeeping... now see... what I almost wanted to do more than Jeeping that Saturday was sleep in, drink a lot of coffee, job hunt, clean the house and watch movies. What I didn't want to do was worry about getting up 5 hours after getting home, having to go potty in the woods or embarassing myself with my social-awkwardness in front of 15 people I had never met before. But you know what? I changed it up and went out of my comfort zone.

It changed my life.

My prayer for you is that it will do the same. And that we will continue to be a people committed to living and not merely surviving.

Praise be to the Father for His love and for Jesus ever-interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

God is God. (a previous post from '09)

God is God.

But do we truly understand what we're saying as we say that? Our God spoke life & creation into being. Our God does not need defending: He can (and does) do it Himself. His Word is His defense. Creation is His defense. The beginning, middle & end is His defense. So why do we as believers feel the constant need to defend Him? (Why do we believe that He NEEDS us?--but that is a different story.)

Through some recent life changes and circumstances I have come to conclusion that I will not always know the will of God in the ways that I want to know. I have also come to learn that He will allow circumstances to happen that in my eyes, do NOT follow His words of, "All things work together for good". I hear the gasps that you take when reading that, so I will emphasize what you may have missed, " my eyes..."

Who are we as mere creation (though it is a marvelous creation) to demand from an all-knowing God what is to happen? Who are we as mere creation to demand an explanation from an all-knowing, all-powerful God? The book, "The Shack", I believe, puts it perfectly in helping to explain the character of God. The main character, Mac, has been through a horrific tragedy in which his youngest daughter was kidnapped and murdered. Mac (who most definitely symbolizes each of us) finally asks God the question he (us?) has always wanted answered. : "What could possibly JUSTIFY  my daughter's rape & murder?" God's reply? "We are not justifying it Mac, we are REDEEMING it." (Emphasis mine)

We as believers are justified. Our God is a God of Justice--in fact, He IS justice. But sometimes, sometimes we as mere humans- we will not see justice. Sometimes, as believers (or, humans, rather) will not like the "side" to whom justice was granted. But God, our God is a Redeemer God. Intertwined with His justice is His redemption. Intertwined with His justice & redemption is His love. As my friend Bethany once told me so powerfully, "Shauna, He doesn't just know how to BE just: He IS just. He doesn't just know HOW to love: He IS love."

So, Christians, as we stand at times at a crossroads of "why's?", and as we pound on God's chest asking "How could you let that happen?": let us remember that Christ is ever-interceding for us at our Father's feet. (Romans 8:34) So as we pray--let us picture Him praying for us. The relationship we have with our God is not just one way-us to Him: In fact, our whole basis for life is the other way: Him to us.

May we always remember that our God deserves glory and praise no matter how we feel or think.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Christians are Wussies. (A post from 2008.)

You shouldn't be surprised by this statement.

Too often we let (or make) God fight our battles for us. We let Him do all the fighting for us. We don't take up our own cross and fight the crowd ourselves. We always read "stand firm! stand fast!" "resist the devil & he'll flee!"--and we forget we're told (in Eph. 6), "...and after you have done EVERYTHING, to stand". Our sword is double-edged. So we don't just stand: we defend. It means we attack. We pierce. We push through. We fight.

So you are probably asking, "Where in the world is this coming from Shauna?"  Well: last night I was under a spiritual attack. And somehow, I realized that He was purifying me. And somehow out of this attack came this new way to "see" through a different sort of lens.

I don't fight. I don't fight for God. I sit back and say, "oh, well, it happened so God must've wanted it to happen..." This could be very well true: but not necessarily. I know that I have to the gifts of discernment & intercession: but how often do I use those gifts so that I can fight for Him? So that I can fight for His glory? So I can fight for others hearts, minds & souls? Sadly, I don't fight enough.

So this is my challenge: that we rise up and we fight. We fight the pain. Look like fools for Christ & for His glory and we live our lives as defenders of the God of whom we are NOT ashamed (or supposed to not be ashamed of...).

"Whatever happens... conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then... I will know that you stand firm in ONE spirit, CONTENDING as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him..." -- the Apostle Paul, Phil 1: 27-29

Ps..... if you don't think our Lord is a Lord of War.... read the Old Testament....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yesterday, I turned 30.

Apparently turning 30 is supposed to be a milestone.

For those of you in your 30's: was it?
For those of you not in your 30's: I don't know what to tell you.

I do know, however, that I rang in my 30's by running a 5k for the first time, napping, drinking coffee, a Girl's Night, watching movies and eating until I almost couldn't eat anymore. That was pretty fabulous.

What I also know is that I am now 30, single, a job hunter & worship leader. Most 30 year olds where I live have been professionals for at least eight years, are married, own houses or condos and have a 10-20 year plan for their lives.

I, on the other hand, have never been that person. I have, what I believe is, anyways: job and/or life ADHD.

Sometimes I view this as a negative thing.. and as I am currently hunting for a second job and feeling like "I'm never going to have my life together and be mature", a friend recently said to me, "Shauna: you know what though? You'll probably find that most people will be and are jealous of you. Think of everything that you can do being not only single: but not tied down with debt, mortgages and climbing cooperate ladders..."

So between that conversation & my turning 30, I've decided to make a list of all that I have accomplished in the last decade:

*Completed Bible School (Which included 8 months in one of the most amazing places on earth: Prince Edward Island, Canada)
*2 Missions Trips to Texas (a couple of days in Mexico).
*Choir Tours throughout New England, the Maritimes & Ontario.
*Toured for 3 months singing & dancing around the US, New Zealand & Fiji.
*Lived in a beach town in Southern California for a year.
*Joined a band for a couple of years.
*Worked with incarcerated teen girls.
*Worked odd jobs such as: Talent Agent, a bridal Store, a camp administrator, a busser & hostess, McDonald's, daycares, a Gym Opener/Administrator, a Kindergarten Aid, etc.
*I've lived by myself. Have had roommates. Lived with families. (Short Note about this: the Christian Life is not meant to be lived alone. That's a fact.)
*I've gone on about 3 dates in my entire life.
*I fell in love with coffee.
*I walked away from God for a time and thankfully: He never stopped pursuing me. I believe, in fact, that He loves me. (I'm still tryin' to figure this one out.)

You know what? I'd say I've had quite a life in those 10 years.... I can't wait to see what He has in store for me for the next 10 years.