I’m In Love…

…with people!

This past Thursday I was wiping down my kitchen walls, doing laundry, and vacuuming the cobwebs above my cupboards that seemed to appear overnight, etc, etc, etc…  As I danced around my washing machine and climbed to the top corners of my ceiling, I felt hope rise to the point that I began to smile and sing the praise chorus that echoed through my mind.  “You make, All things work together for my good…”  Nothing has changed.  Nothing new is in view.  No “Aha” moment has been had, yet hope and joy walked beside me.  I believe their presence had something to do with my conversation I had with God during my run on Tuesday morning.

While soaking in the brisk air and the sun’s rays I found myself reminiscing over this past weekend.  I had traveled to Illinois to share my testimony at a church just 12 miles east of St. Louis, MO.  On my way home I made a stop in Marion, IL to tape a TV spot at the TCT Network.  It’s not the spotlight that I enjoy, I’m ok without that, but through my weekend travels I discovered a deeper love I now have for people.  Since childhood I’ve been one who befriended the friendless.  I attribute this soft spot in my heart to my own understanding of being the unpopular, or the invisible one myself, but something is different inside of me now.

So many people, of all ages, began to share their stories with me after I spoke on Sunday night.  As each person handed me their heart, both the joys and the sorrows, I was captivated by them.  What a precious honor it was to have my elders ask my opinion regarding the thoughts and feelings some experience during grief.  No doubt they could teach me a wealth of knowledge from their own experiences of loss, yet they chose to trust one some 40 years younger than themselves.  Wow!  I also chatted with some who were probably 15-20 years younger than I am.  I loved each one individually yet the same.  So on Tuesday morning as I began my run, with one foot coming down in front of the other and my hands open and turned toward the sky, my prayer went something like this;

“Lord, Thank You for continuing to transform my heart – it’s all You.  I feel change is in the air.  I’m not sure what You are doing and I’m not going to try to figure it out this time.  I’m done guessing, and I’m done trying to pick up what everyone else tells me I should or should not be.  I will allow You to unfold Your purpose and reason for each step You lead me to take.  I realize there are areas in my life that I have picked up a false sense of control, for this I am sorry.  I can do nothing without You giving me the ability.  I cannot walk, run, breathe, or get my countertops clean enough*, without You enabling me to do so.  So, I am choosing to let go of all my preconceived ideas.  It will take me some time to learn how to let go and I will need reminded often, but I am releasing all the restrictions I’ve set in order for You to bless me.  I have been wrong far too often and You are never wrong.  I trust You.  Lord, please show me clearly where, when, how, and who.”

I must admit that I’m just a little nervous after this prayer, but why not put words of faith into an adventurous action?  I believe that the dreams of my heart are far better off being molded in God’s hands than dictated by my minds logic.

If you become willing to open up and sincerely share your life’s story with others, you will find you are not as alone as you might think.  Everyone has a story!  Whether it be an internal struggle or an outward battle, we all have a story to tell and we all need each other to tell it.  Why not open up yourself to love others and let others love you back?  It doesn’t take a huge platform to be open with your heart, but it does take courage.

If you choose to be brave, just maybe you too will find hope and joy walking with you!  Better yet, maybe you will find yourself “In Love”!

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him In 2012.

“Still Keeping It Real!”

*some of you out there will understand my countertop statement in my prayer.  For those who do not, that’s for another blog 😉

Chase Him Down!

He noticed her first.

Boaz was a wealthy land owner out checking on his fields when he spotted Ruth.  She was working hard to gather up what little grain fell from the field workers’ grip in the gleaning process.  Boaz was captivated by her beauty, but also by what he had already heard about her.  News of Ruth’s character had quickly spread throughout Bethlehem.  She loved her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Both Ruth and Naomi were widowed and struggling to survive.  When Naomi decided to move back to her homeland after the death of her husband, Ruth refused to leave her alone and went with her.  Ruth left her land and her people, and vowed to be faithful to Naomi and her God.  She was a woman of integrity and highly devoted.

The moment Boaz saw Ruth he began to protect her.  He said to her, “I have told the men not to touch you.”  Field work was not the safest place for a woman, especially a woman of such beauty.  He began to give her what was needed for both she and Naomi to survive.  There were certain laws instructing the rich on how they should treat the poor, but Boaz went above and beyond what the law required.  He had his workers purposefully let extra grain fall so Ruth could gather all that they needed.

Ruth soon acknowledged that she also took notice of him.  To show how much she admired him, with Naomi’s leading, Ruth decided to take a huge risk.  It was common practice for the men to sleep in their fields just before harvest to keep would be robbers away.  One night, Naomi told Ruth to go lay at Boaz’s feet while he slept.  With great risk, she did.

I have heard so many women use this beautiful story of Ruth as an excuse to chase a man down.  Sometimes resulting in a catch they later regret.  We love to talk about how Ruth pursued Boaz as we quote the scripture about her laying at his feet, but we fail to read on and realize that Ruth stopped there.

“Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”  -Ruth 3:18

Once Ruth let Boaz know she was interested in him, it was his job to “concluded the matter” and pursue her.  At this point, if he chose not to pursue her, Ruth would have needed to decide that it was worth waiting for the one who found her worthy of fighting for.

Boaz had a lot of obstacles he had to overcome before he could consider Ruth as his own.  He had to resolve an issue with Naomi’s family first.  There was one man who stood first in line to buy the family’s land.  Had the other man wanted Ruth or the land bad enough it would have been a package deal.  Boaz had to really think this through and decide himself if she was worth all that it would cost him.  He also had to act fast before he lost his chance with Ruth.  Had he walked away at this point, it would not have been an issue of Ruth’s value, but more so that Boaz was unworthy of this “virtuous” woman.

It wasn’t easy for Ruth to “sit still” to allow Boaz to work things out.  No doubt she was anxious.  Otherwise, Naomi would not have had to tell her to sit and wait.  I don’t know what was going through Ruth’s mind, but I know what my mind would be running away with.  I would create all kinds of questions along with all the possible outcomes to those questions.  Most likely none of which would be correct.  Here’s a few of the thoughts that I would be playing out like a Hollywood movie reel if I were Ruth.  “Was he impressed with me?”  “Did I go too far by sneaking in at night to talk to him?”  “Maybe his kind gesture to protect me that night was just his way of getting rid of me?”  “Maybe I offended him by my approach!?!?”  “Was he even thinking of me at all?”  “After all, he is very busy man and I bear the “shame of the widow”.

Even with the plethora of questions that run through our minds, we must learn to “sit still.”  Whether the questions loom because of a personal or business matter, we must remember that God is working all things out for our good and His glory.  God values us and cares for every detail of our lives.

In Ruth’s willingness to wait, she enabled Boaz to work everything out and in turn will never have to question if she is the one whom he loves.  She didn’t chase him.  In the way Jesus shows His love for the church by His pursuit of us, Boaz pursued Ruth because of his love for her.  Ruth could then rest in this knowledge and simply love him in return.

We too can rest in the fact that God continues to pursue a love relationship with us.  All we have to do is accept His love and press into Him.

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3

Boaz did not stop giving gifts once he knew he got Ruth’s attention… Neither will God stop giving all that we need and more when we place our trust and confidence in Him.

~ Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

Where and With Whom Does Our Value Lie?

“Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life.  Do what you feel you have a flair for doing, and if you are good enough at it, the money will come.” ~Greer Garson



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What's It Worth?

Title:

I really don’t know how I feel about this statement, true or not, but if your motive is simply to make money, what happens when the economy bottoms out?  What if we do face another great depression?  What if, like Job, everything is stripped away in a matter of minutes?  Or in my case, seconds?  Again, I hear the word “balance” here.  Job continued to stand because he was anchored in God, because of Job’s steadfast faith, God restored all that he lost and more.

Where and With Whom Does Our Value Lie?

I will be the first to admit I like nice things.  I even get that infamous momentary high when I do purchase something I like, but now, I am more aware than ever to the fact that things are fleeting.  I watch as a great number in our culture run themselves sick while trying to gain the next biggest and best of, whatever it is they think will fill the massive void in their soul.  I cannot allow myself to forget where I stood on January 8th ‘2006, at 4:00 AM.  I stood hollow and empty on a beautiful, custom-converted tour bus.  As I walked down the aisle and opened my huge, clothes-filled closet, my senses became mindful of the wealth my feet stood on.  I had a tour bus full of expensive clothing and expensive equipment.  Just a few hours before, this bus was the topic of envy as it was being polished at the truck wash.  So often I watched people’s faces as we pulled into a location.  I could almost see their dreams as the sunlit copper paint reflected back from the eyes that gazed upon it.  Then the questions came as we stepped off the bus, “What’s it like to travel and see so much?”  “What’s it like to live the good life?”  The more bold souls asked, “How much did you pay for that?”  Most always the questions were meant to be innocent and simply a moment for the one asking to escape their own reality.  The price to travel and possess such things was higher than I care to calculate, but the lives changed for eternity’s sake made the sacrifice priceless.

There I stood in the very early hours of a Sunday morning .  There I stood, having so much, yet just four hours before, I lost everything my heart possessed.  As I stared into the clothing, I turned to Angie, the third voice of the ‘Parker Trio,’ and said, “So What.”  I felt hollow and void, stripped to nothing.  A few hours before, at 11:50 PM, Warren step off the bus and was killed by a drunk driver.

Why am I telling this again?  I’m sharing for one reason this time:  I’m pleading with those who are being swayed by temporary highs and the world’s temptations to think before they act.  I include myself in this because I too am capable to fail at every angle.  I’m hearing more and more of couples divorcing because someone got bored, or didn’t feel like fighting for their marriage.  I watch as people sacrifice their family for more stuff, or the illusion of greener pastures on the other side of the fence.  Stuff will dissolve; love is what remains.

There is nothing wrong with having nice things.  I am abundantly blessed and have much more than I deserve, and I’m thankful for it all.  When Warren died, he did not take one thing with him.  He had only a suit on when we lowered him in his earthly grave.  What’s lasting is the memories of loving each other, and the great sense of accomplishment when we weathered our personal storms and came through them, more deeply in love because of them.

So I ask you these questions.  Where do you place your value?  What has you captivated?  Do you value the people in your life more than the stuff you posses?  Your actions will speak much louder than the verbal answer you give.

Try this.  Hold both hands out in front of you, palms up as if you are holding a weight in each hand.  Pretend your hands act as a scale for these two weights.  In one hand is God and all that His love has to offer.  In the other hand, you hold the temptation that tugs at you, addiction, lust, lying, covetousness; whatever your personal struggle may be.  As you look at both hands, and weigh the substance in your grip, make a choice!  Do you choose God and His love, or the temptation?  Ok, it is not always that easy when you’re faced with the emotional pull of this physical world and body.  Try asking yourself this question instead.  Which do you love more?  Do you love the temptation more than God?

That’s really all I have to say right now.

~Shannan

Where God leads me from here is His choosing, but if my passion to love deeper and have a peace-filled home comes from this tragedy, in the end, is it really all that tragic?

What I Treasure!