Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Different Prayer

No matter your Eschatological (End Times) view:
You most likely believe that Jesus is coming back someday.
The question is: Do you want Him to? Have you asked Him to?

This past Saturday I attended the Simply Worship conference in Hopkinton, MA... put on by my friends from the Andy Needham Band (http://www.andyneedhamband.com) and Greenhouse ministries (http://www.wearegreenhouse.org). It's the second of their conferences I have been able to attend.

And each time, I walk away changed.
Really. They are better than Christmas Day!

As a worship leader, I love to sing. But to back off the microphone and listen to others sing to our great God is my favorite moment. My heart overflows with gratitude to see His people talking with Him and praising Him.

And in that moment, I can stop leading and do the same.

But something struck me during the middle of one of the worship gatherings at the conference:The last time I remember truly asking the Lord to come back was at the previous conference about one year before. And I do not mean in a, "Lord, I'm so sick of this world and weariness..." but a true, "Lord, I just want to finally meet You face to face.." kind of way. Tears streamed down my face off and on through out the worship times together.... some of it because sometimes I just take it for granted that the Sovereign Being in and of the Universe loves me... and sometimes, because I just wanted to be in His presence: forever.

So the question is this: why have I not wanted or prayed for Jesus to come back again? And again, not out of frustration or weariness (though those are not bad reasons in themselves) but out of pure love and readiness to see Jesus?

Well, I wish that my answer was spiritually uplifting... but unfortunately, I think the answer lies more within the desires of this world entering my spirit. The love of money, comparisons, distractions and sin, just to name a few.

I'm not proud of this. One bit.

In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning states, "One thing we do know: We don't comprehend the love of Jesus Christ... Calvary cries out more clearly than any theology textbook we do not know our God. We have not grasped the truth in the First Letter of John: 'In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us...'

I remember in college telling a friend, "I wish I loved Jesus more." His response? "So ask for more love for Him: I started praying that... and He keeps answering!"

So I challenge you as I begin to challenge myself:
Let us pray a different prayer: let us pray to see Him, and soon... for Him to open our hearts to loving Him more- the way He should be. As a bride and bridegroom are filled with longing to finally catch a mere glimpse of each other on their wedding day: let us pray to be filled with such love and gratefulness that we can not help but pray to see Him-- and soon

And in the meantime, let us do as the angel told the Apostle John while he wrote the book of Revelation (22:9):

Worship God.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A [Single's] Holiday Perspective

Even as I write this post, I can hear the, "But Shauna!'s" that are going to come out. I plead with you to A.) read this entire post first and B.) acknowledge this: You are most likely married and/or have kids... And you, dear friend, are whom I writing to.

I am 32 years old.
I love Jesus.
I am not extremely close with my family.
So you know what?
Real hard.

As the years roll forward on Social Media, people often find the courage to write and "share" about causes that which they may not do otherwise. Or be able to otherwise. One of these causes is the, "I will not shop at __________ on Thanksgiving (or Christmas) because their employees should be home with their family!"

And you know what? I get it.
 I really, really get it

But you know what I also get?
I get that I've been that person that once worked at 16 hour shift at a Girl's Shelter on Christmas Day for no other reason than, well, "I'd rather work on Christmas than be alone all day."

Being in your head can be a really dangerous place for someone during the Holiday Season. Even now, as I am the healthiest I have ever been, spiritually, physically and emotionally I can honestly say: I am bracing myself for this upcoming Season. And to add to that, I'm so looking forward to this Season.

But I have not always looked forward to the Holiday Season.

I've had years of living paycheck to paycheck and feeling guilty for any purchase: never mind a gift. Having jobs that I wasn't particularly happy in. Years of having to figure out life and major life-decisions without someone to walk through it all with. Years of needing that time and a half to help pay for a Christmas gift or a bill. Years of crying while hearing, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and not being able to explain why the tears are flowing.

I have been so blessed to have families "adopt" me during the Holiday Season. My best friend and her family have adopted me now for several years for Christmas. (In fact, the part of the tradition I bring is making Christmas Breakfast- or the Christmas Breakfast/Dinner). Friends of mine in NH have adopted me the last couple of years for Thanksgiving. I, of course, have my moments of just wanting to curl up in a corner and hide sometimes.. and sometimes I do. But even in that: it's nice to hear voices and laughter around those corners.

This year I am hoping to start a new tradition. I've invited a young co-worker to come to my place for Thanksgiving Day. It is time that I begin to reach out to others the way that so many have reached out to me and given me a place to not hear silence.

So my request to you is this... Though America is all about being corporate and making as much money as possible, that those who may be working at the grocery stores and coffee places may rather be at work that day than to be home alone. Of course, I'm sure that many would rather be home, but I am telling you from a place of experience: I would have rather have been at work.

So maybe when you go into Starbucks or your local grocery store, you could bless them by giving them something: a gift card. A "thank you". [Lord knows if you live in the Boston area, we are not known for being friendly people... we're known for our cut-offs: verbally and with our cars.] Who knows, maybe you could even invite a stranger to your dinner.

So, as you stress out over where Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner is going to be hosted in a few weeks.. and over what to make and what to bring.... I plead with you to look around. At the very least, you have stressed out because there are people in your life: Not everyone has that option. Is there someone that just transferred to your work and may not have family around? Is there someone at your church that is new or you notice just sort of looks around, too shy to start a conversation? Or perhaps, just perhaps it's the person right under your nose... that you never thought would struggle with being alone, but truly is.

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others...So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone... [For] the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:9,10 & Matthew 25:40.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Reaction vs. Action

"Thankfulness should be a reaction."
                                                     -Derek Duncan

This is an area of my life that I sense God has been stirring in me. It started almost two years ago while reading a devotional ("Choosing Gratitude", Nancy De Moss) that recommended writing 5 things every day that you are thankful for.. whether it's the curtains on your window or the car in your driveway... The "Experiencing God" study by Henry Blackaby was life-changing as well, as every day you are to pray, "Lord, open my eyes to what You are doing around me..." May I tell you now, dear friend: One can only be thankful when He opens your eyes to where He is around you.

I could go on to tell the various literal hundreds of stories that could encompass how God has shown me when to be thankful and for what, but for now, I'll just share a few.

This summer was the hardest summer I had ever spent at my favorite place on earth (www.lwcamp.com) ... I felt defeated. I felt angry. I felt justified. I felt entitled...I felt... I ... I... I... It was bad. Thankfully, beautiful souls have reminded me that it is when we are weak that He is strong (II Corinthians 12:8,9) and that He finally gets to work. Nothing is beyond His control. (Just use the whole Bible for that reference!) So I've decided to be thankful... thankful that I was able to be where He wanted me. Thankful to be surrounded by godly men and women who spoke Truth into my life. Thankful to be constantly witness to His beautiful creation. Thankful for a sun tan and novel reading. Thankful for air conditioning. Thankful that He (hopefully) still used me despite myself. THANKFUL.

The Fall came.. bringing with it huge changes and challenges. A hunt for a new place to live. A new roommate. Finances. The singing of the National Anthem.The loss of a friendship. The addition of a second job and all that that entails. You know what? God has provided the grace and strength for every one of these. (And because of this, I know that He will continue to!) These could be small challenges for you- but big and/or complicated for me. In fact He has poured His grace over me so abundantly I have shed tears of joy for the glimpses that He has shared in what He is doing around me... perhaps even through me. As John Piper is noted for saying, "In any given moment God could be doing 10,000 things.. but He may only show you 2 or 3 of those..." I. Am. Just. So. Thankful. And at times, rendered speechless.

My prayer for asking God to open my eyes to what HE is doing around me is being answered.. and to that I am thankful. Reactionally thankful. I pray for it to be even more so as the Winter comes, bringing with it the "Winter Blues". 

May His grace and strength build a wall of un-penetrable thankfulness in us and around us.

(*For further study, just a FEW of the verses to read on Thankfulness and Rejoicing, read, Philippians 4:4, 6, Colossians 3:15, 16, 17, 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18, 1 Timothy 6:6... just as a jump start.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

the Little Things.

I was recently reading, "The Noticer", by Andy Andrews when I came across this:

'"Have you ever been bit by an elephant?" the old man asked. Henry shook his head. "How about a mosquito?" Jones offered. 

"Of course," Henry answered.

"You see what I mean?" Jones said... "It's the small stuff that'll get to you!"'

I was not sure at first as to why this little part stuck out to me then upon some thought and analyzing I realized, "It's. So. True."

In the Christian community there is a common phrase, "When I fell into sin." Wrong. Absolutely, wrong. No one falls into sin. It is little steps. Maybe not all of those steps are sinful, but they are steps. How do I know this?


Also, Scripture. Hebrews 12: 1b-2a tells us, "let us also lay aside every weight, and sin, which clings so closely..." Note the comma, in the original language and in ours as well, there is a break there, telling us that there is a difference between sin and hindrances.

So what "gets us"?
The small stuff.

The pushing aside of quiet times. The number of beers. The tv shows. The places we spend most of our time. The people we spend most of our time with. The spending (or gathering) of money. Our thought lives.

Are these things (or people) in our lives necessarily bad things? No! Not at all! But does it encourage you and lighten you? Or does it cause you to over-analyze yourself and others and/or situations?

Matt Chandler in his Philippians DVD (and study) series challenges you with this thought. "What stirs your affections for Christ?" For me? Honestly? Coffee. Movies. Books. Music. But, he then challenges you with this thought as well, "What robs you of your affections for Christ?" For me? Some of those same things. Example: TV and Movies with too much surface-y emotionalism or sex- or violence can. In fact, as an encouragement to you I will tell you that I chose to watch tv/movies only on the weekends so that I can focus more on reading, and oh, other humans. And Jesus. All that time spent watching unreal people live was robbing me of living my own life- and time with the Lord.

So today, I challenge you with this thought: There is a difference between sin and hindrances. And since you can not bring anything with you except your soul with you to heaven: what will you focus on while you remain here on earth? And remember, one step is one step... but the question is: and what direction are you going in?

Friday, February 21, 2014


Do you ever just feel like you are not good enough?
Not pretty or handsome enough?
Not talented enough?
Not strong or tough enough?
Not smart enough?
Not rich enough?
Not as people-pleasing enough?

I have had more than one of these days lately.

As I lounged around this evening I found God urging me to spend time with Him and I confess, I did not want to. Not because I hate Him. Nor because I just wanted to continue to be lazy. (Okay, maybe.) But the root of my (dare I say almost) rebellion was I did not want to walk away with out more peace. I did not want to walk away with more desires yet being unfulfilled. Honestly? I did not want to be rebuked.

The following, however, is a (tiny) glimpse into my time with Him. (Note: I was playing my Jesus Culture Pandora station in the background. Hence the song lyrics that popped up so vividly.)


"I see no stain on you My Child" 


"Christ Alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Father's love
Through the storm, He is Lord,
Lord of all." 




"We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony, everyone overcome"

"By Your grace I stand,
Healing is in Your hand.
In all things we know we are more than conquerors"

"I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness
And I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

Because of the burden I had to write, my sense is these words are not just for me- but for you as well.

Enjoy His words, Child of God.
He sees no stain on you.


Song credits: 

My Beloved, Kari Jobe
Cornerstone, Hillsong
Overcome, Desperation Band
Healing is in Your Hand, Christy Nockels
You are for Me, Kari Jobe

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Genie vs. God

My pastor challenged us with this today:

Write down all that you want from God. The little things, the big things.
Then imagine that God tells you, "I will give you each thing on your list. But, after I give them to you, you will never hear from Me again."
Is your wish list worth it?

I have struggled in the last 6-8 months in wrestling with, "Do I see God as a personal genie?" And I believe it is a common struggle amongst many of us believers... just one that no one wants to actually admit to.

I have also had desires of the heart and have shared these thoughts and desires with many only to be told, "If you have that desire-- it is of God and He will give it to you!" and "God wouldn't give you desires and not fulfill them- He will!"

I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but that is a borderline (if not, flat out) "health and wealth gospel" lie. Not every desire we have is of God, and nor does He have to fulfill any desire or wish of ours. The Sovereign God of the universe owes us nothing and it is high time that we stop acting like it. Yes, God says He "will" give us the desires of our hearts in numerous scripture passages, but, does He have to? No. Is He still good if He doesn't? Yes.

I am only in my 30's and I am not writing this as an "I-know-it-all" or that I have no daily (or lifelong) struggle. I write this as a reminder to all of us Jesus-loving people that our God does not owe us a thing. He does, however, want a relationship with us. And He does want to be the most important person in our lives.

So in light of this reminder: what is most important to you? Your list, or your Savior?

Monday, January 20, 2014

the Silent Gaps

The silent gaps in life have been the most aggravating times in my life, I think.
The loneliest.
The most angriest.

The silent gaps, however, can also be just what I've needed. Filled with space. Beauty. Confidence.

The difference is not the gaps themselves: but what I choose to do in the gaps.
Will I worship? Or will I let bitterness take root?
Will I pray? Or will I go to everyone but God?
Will I spend my time wisely? Or will I waste it?
Will I stay in my shell? Or will I give to others?

I have done each of these. I have let bitterness take such root and hold in my life to the point that I have walked in rebellion against God. And I have also worshiped while waiting. And I am in that place again. 2013 was such an incredible year of walking closer to Christ and His people and trying to cling to Him through all the ups and downs. And as I closed out 2013 and have begun walking 2014... the choices and options for [what seems like] myriads of situations have me in such a place that I must wait. In the silent gaps. He has not promised me a lightning bolt. Or for His [what I am assuming is a BOOMING] audible voice. He has, promised, however, that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 36:1) and that His work on me is not finished until the day I see Him face to face (Philippians 1:6).

He also tells us to pray. In every circumstance: pray. No matter what the situation: pray. I recently read a quote from Beth Moore in which she reminds us that "God would not ask us to pray about EVERYTHING (Philippians 4:6) if prayer could not change EVERYTHING."

In this past year I have also come across a song by John Waller entitled, "While I'm Waiting". And every single time this song pops up on my playlist (about once every few months) it was just the moment in which I needed this reminder. PRAY.

"I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait"

So dear friends, if you ever find yourself like me, and waiting in the silent gaps, let us be found worshiping the One who is all-sovereign, and all-loving.