Is That Ok With You? Better Yet, Is That Ok With Me?

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet (there was no visible sign), moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Heb. 11:7

What makes a righteous man?

“Noah walked in close fellowship with God… (Gen. 6:9) and Noah did everything the Lord commanded him.” (Gen. 7:5)

As I stood before my friend in my kitchen, once again I became internally ill when he asked the dreaded question, “What are you doing these days?”  I froze for a moment as my mind raced to find the words that would be pretty enough to prove I’m really not lazy nor lacking in drive.  Once again that nagging little voice that I wrestle with each day grew louder, “You’re not doing or being enough.  What kind of testimony to God are you if you’re not accomplishing what so many others are?  You are not enough!  My friend’s question was innocent and not meant to cause pain, he was simply asking how I was doing that day, but after so many years of walking through this dark and lonely season, I’ve picked up guilt for not living up to the expectations so many had for me.  To not have a grand and adventurous accomplishment to tell about makes me feel no less than a disappointment.

Since the day after my husband was killed, I have been told what I was going to do and be.  “Shannan, you’re going to be the next Beth Moore…I can see you being the next Joyce Meyer…God would not allow this to happen for nothing…You’re going to be great!”  As much as I do not want to be someone else, as great as they are, the fact that I’m not all of these things flooded my mind as I stood before my friend, and I almost felt I should apologize for not being “great”.

Noah did not waver, even in a world that made trusting God unpopular, and even when God did not seem to make any sense.  Noah responded to God and then waited for Him.  Our world today does not understand waiting, much less will it allow someone to “Be still”*.  I deal with my own guilt each day for the fact that God keeps saying, “Be still.  My grace is sufficient”  Why do I wrestle with God’s gift of time by trying to dress me up each day in the clothes of appeared success?  Why do I let the question, “What do you do?” torment my mind?  I do a lot everyday, to the point I average about 4-5 hours of sleep each night, but what’s really being asked is, “Who are you now Shannan?”  With not having a career to identify me, I then have to deal with the looks of pity.  I’ve always been the odd one, so why does this cut so deep now?

Here’s the short and only answer to the questions I keep asking myself.  Why do I feel guilty?  It’s pride.  I know without an ounce of doubt in me that my heart seeks God for each day.  I ask Him to expose any wrong thinking I may have.  I ask that He protect me, shelter me, and guide my every footstep along the path that He established for my life long before I took my first breath here on His earth.  I ask Him almost daily to place within me a vision and the passion to do what He wants me to do.  So why do I wrestle with Him when He says, “Be still?”  The only honest answer I can give is that it’s my own pride.

I was use to having my life planned out for 3 years in advance, knowing exactly where I was to be and when.  Then in a flash, I went from “success” to a whirlwind of death and corruption.  I spent 3 years in legal battles all the while attending one funeral after another.  To date, I’ve buried 7 immediate family members, and another 15 friends, family, and industry peers since Warren’s death.  I have sweet memories of visiting my friend each day as she courageously journeyed her way through pancreatic cancer.  What a gift for her to trust me to walk her last miles with her.  I did have to refrain from attending all 22 funerals, but my heart was at each one.  I don’t tell you this for pity, for I see my storm as a means for God to reveal His strength.  This small amount of information just brings things into perspective for me a little.

If I know I am exactly where God wants me to be today, and I believe Him when He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things shall be given unto you.”*  Then why is my heart anxious?  Why do I feel I have to prove that I am ok?  Who am I trying to please in these moments when my heart is screaming for something…ANYTHING other than this?  The answer is you.  I’m trying to please all the “yous” that I stand before.  I fear I will not have an answer that will be adequate, or even one that will pacify for the moment, because my life does not make any logical sense right now.

“God would not allow this to happen for nothing.”

That’s true, but what if the something still looks like nothing?  What if the something that is coming from this season of the valley of the shadow of death is an internal growth within myself and not for a stage full of lights?  What if my heart’s desire is to be a wife and mother who bakes cookies and not a famous somebody to the world?  Is that ok with you?  Better yet, is that ok with me?  I’m slowly coming to the place to be able to answer yes to this question.  I still wrestle with saying yes absolutely, because the reality of this heart’s desire looks less than hopeful.  You can’t go to school for 4 years, get a degree, and POOF there’s love – a real and lasting love.  There is a part of me that is 100% ok with my present circumstance, and that is the fact that I know I am not sitting idly by doing nothing to prepare.  I am seeking God and trying to learn all I can so that I can be a better me.  I am, in faith, preparing for the desires of my heart.

After what seemed to be too long of a pause, I answered my friends question honestly.  “There’s not a whole lot of new going on, I’m just trying to seek God for my next step.”  Then my friend spoke such freeing words over me.  With a gentle peace and a bold confidence, “Awww, you’re abiding”, he said.  For the first time in 6 1/2 years I felt I had nothing to prove.

I can safely bet that Noah questioned God’s delay in opening the ark door.  It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but Noah and his family were on that big boat for a year!  During their stay, the world as they knew it was wiped away.  When the time of the flood season was complete, they stepped off of that ship into a whole new world.  No doubt it was scary, but the change was absolutely necessary for mankind to continue.

Noah could have refused to build the ark for fear of what others would think.  After all, it had never rained on the earth before, so what sense did it make to build a boat in preparation for a flood?  There certainly had to be accusations that this man, Noah, had lost his mind.  But “By Faith”, with “no visible sign”, he began to build, and then allowed God to shut him in the day the rains began to fall.  With all of man’s logic and their accusing words, he could have allowed pride to sway him from his trust in God.  After the many months aboard that ship, he could have let his anxious moments cause him to jump overboard before it was time, but “By Faith”, he chose to “be still” and wait on God – “to the saving of his house”.

Like Noah, my life does, and will, look different from when the storm first hit, but I serve the all-powerful and all-knowing God who is full of grace and mercy.  His ways are best, and so is His timing.  I too can “Be still”, and trust Him in what appears to be His delay.  He’s never late, and thankfully never too early.

For now, my “great” success is to be here sharing with all of you, and this is ok.  That is, until I’m baking cookies…. 😉

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him in 2012!

Be sure to talk to me in the comment section of this blog.  I really do love to hear from you too!

“Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” – Gen. 6:8

*Psalm 46:10, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2046&version=AMP

*Matthew 6:33, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matt%206&version=AMP

God Is In The Way

I went for a long run before church yesterday morning.  I came to the top of a very steep hill just in time to see the sun rise, it was beautiful.  My mind was filled with gratitude for a new day, but I was still weighted with grief.  How long is this valley of the shadow of death?

The day my husband died brought many other losses that have taken time to fully recognize and process.  I could not begin to understand their magnitude until I stood in the middle of them and felt their weight.  I lost my handy man, my mechanic, my jar opener, my computer technician, my business partner, and the father of our future children – just to name a few.  But what I miss most is having the one person in the world that I could trust with my heart.  I miss the one I talked with at night when the world was finally still.  I miss the simple things in life many of us take for granted.  Coming home from church to an empty house where I take care of only me seems pointless.  I love my little dog, but the isolated walks without my protector doesn’t bring the same level of joy that use to come with a leisurely stroll – now it’s an empty hand.

There’s another grief though that has been beating me up for years now.  I’m over 5 years in the journey of my new normal.  Everyday since Warren’s death I have been faced with the question, “What are you going to do now?”  This question literally started coming the day after his very sudden death.  I found myself thrown into a world of news interviews, legal battles, and acting as a counselor for others who had also lost him.  I felt a sense of responsibility to take care of all those who were trying to make some sense of this horrible tragedy.  My heart ached for Warren’s family, and I did not want to see people become bitter over the countless number of injustices that were (and still are) taking place.  I also wanted others to know that I was going to be okay…I was/am going to be okay, right?

I stood as two very long lines of people came through to pay their respects on the day before the funeral.  I stood for about 6 1/2 to 7 hours as people came through and expressed their sadness and concern, but also their certainty that I was going to be the next Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer.  I was going to excel and make Warren proud by keeping the Parker Trio going strong.  They were all well-meaning in their encouragements, and the compliments touched my heart.  With each expression of care, I knew without doubt that Warren and I were loved far more than we ever realized.  But here I am, years later, feeling the weight of their disappointment.

As I came over the hill yesterday while on my run, I watched the sun’s rays begin to touch the new blanket of green now on the trees, and I broke into tears.  I have tried to go down so many roads that people have told me were my destiny, but at every turn I find God standing in the way.  With every door closed and all the ministry files burned, I am at a loss of what He wants me to do.  I am left feeling guilty for not being what everyone says I should be.  After the looks of pity come these words again, “You’re going to be great.  God’s really got a plan for you.”  If I’m “going to be…” these things, what am I now?

I began to run faster and God picked up His speed right alongside me.  He whispered, “Sometimes soldiers need their rest.  Trust me.”  He then painted an illustration in my mind of a military soldier who longs to be a part of his platoon again, but the doctor will not give his release to join in the battle yet.  The soldier struggles to gain understanding, but until the physician signs the release papers there is nothing he can do but wait.

He’s not forgotten.  He’s just called aside for a moment.

The truth is, I never wanted to be the next Beth Moore or Joyce Myer; they already exist.  I want to be where God wants me and I want to be who He’s created me to be.  I’m not against traveling and sharing my story and the lessons I’m learning along the way, but if God has other plans then that’s okay too.

God is in the way, but I don’t want it any other way.  He knows my every thought, my hearts desire, my coming and my going, and He will lead me if I let Him.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

Not yet, does not mean not ever.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

I may be on desk duty now but I am no longer minimizing it’s importance.  Desk duty needs to be done just as much as physical combat.  I am valuable!

No “Fresh Meat” Sign Continued -Stepping Forward

6/16/2010
“Put Your Dream To the Test”  Chapter One Thoughts.

Am I doing what I do because I don’t know what else to do?  Yes.  The positive for me at this moment is that my lack of knowing is not a lack of ambition.  Whatever God has for me, I want to be the very best I can be.

“It clicked.  It was something I suddenly just seemed to reach out and find, as if I’d been crossing a suspended bridge and finally stepped off onto solid ground.” ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

This is exactly what I’ve been asking God for.  I’ve been praying for Him to give me a passion and desire to do and be all He’s created me for.  Maybe He already has given me the passion?  Maybe it’s just not packaged the way everyone else says it should be?  Maybe I’ve been reaching for what I think I’m supposed to be, rather than what I know I’d like to be?  Within days of Warren’s death, people began asking what I was going to do next.  They would say things like, “You’re going to be the next Beth Moore.”  Or, “I know God is going to do something great with you.  You have too much of a story not to be out speaking on the national level.”  Books were being titled for me and press kits put together.  All this was happening in the middle of huge legal battles and during a time I struggled with finding the energy to even cry.  I am extremely flattered at their well-intentioned words, but the more time that’s passed and I’ve not become all they said I would and should, I’ve struggled with my self-worth.  All I wanted in the days before Warren’s passing was to be a great wife, and Lord-willing, the best mom I could be.  I have really tried to desire all that was spoken over me, but it’s not there at the level it needs to be for me to run toward it with everything in me.  I loved speaking on Easter Sunday, but it’s not my first passion.  I am more than happy to do these things, but if this is to be a part of my life, it will be secondary to my family.  Bigger, in the eyes of society, is not always better.

“You cannot achieve a dream you do not own.” ~John C. Maxwell

I had someone ask me the question, “Why won’t someone just love me for me?”  My answer to them was, “How can they when you don’t know who you are?”  The more I have the privilege of talking with others as they walk through a difficult time, the more I am caused to look deeper into myself.  I have to search my own heart and get honest with myself in order to know who I am.  Here’s a thought that would get little attention when it crossed my mind.  I used to long for the days I could be at my home church while I was traveling in full-time music ministry.  I imagined what it would be like to be the “normal family.”  I took a few moments to think on these thoughts and then I would internally tuck them away.

It was just two weeks before he was killed, Warren woke me up in the middle of the night to discuss all the “What ifs?” if something were ever to happen to him.  One of the things he said to me, “Don’t worry about keeping the trio going.  That’s my passion not yours.”  He went on to tell me all he wanted for me.  I will not go into all the details but I can say this, he gave me an amazing blessing to live a life free from the guilt of keeping our life alive.  Unfortunately, I picked the guilt up from every other angle.  Now, I’m laying it all down.

I believe God plants seeds in our heart and mind for future purposes.  It may just be that the seed of longing to be at home is now deepening it’s roots; for such a time as this.  I feel God slowly peeling away the cocoon He’s had me in and gently tugging on my new wings.  Wings I didn’t even know were growing.  I love my home church and my extended family there.  I love reaching out and getting to know my neighbors.  I struggled with the words, “I love you” growing up but now I feel a great need to tell others how valuable they are.  I never would have taken walks alone simply to meet those that live around me, yet today, I do my best to get out in-order to draw people in.  Even if people do not respond well to my sincere, “hello” as I pass by, I feel joy in knowing that God may be trying to strip away a fear build-wall of their own.  This fills my heart with joy.

“…if success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your own soul, it is not success at all.” ~Anna Quindlen

Am I less because I long to be a godly wife to a godly man?  Am I less because I want to raise children of character?  I think this is a pretty large dream in our world today.  I am also very aware that it can only be achieved if it’s wrapped in the presence of God.  I know God hears me when I pray by witnessing other answered prayers.  So, I know He also hears me when I ask Him for His continued shelter from a path that is less than His perfect for me.  I am stepping forward with caution, but I am stepping forward.

~Shannan

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Stepping Forward Can Lead To Amazing Places!