When A Battle Is Lost

 
 
“This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” – 2 Chron. 20:15

She Speaks Out

God is good and right!

On April 19, 2015, God led me to speak for the sweet people of South Carolina.  He had me lend my voice on the side of right and justice.  I got to stand shoulder to shoulder with Brian Adam’s and his family as he ran in the race for the next Sheriff of Berkeley County.  The outcome was not what I had hoped it would be – he missed the win by only a few hundred votes – but I have no regrets and do not at all feel that Brian Adams​ and his team “lost” the race.  It took huge courage for the Adams team to step forward and stand up against the face of so much injustice.  They were willing to risk all to tell the truth.  That in itself is a huge win!  They also united a community of amazing people who felt they had no voice for so long. This strong team allowed the oppressed to have a voice.

That Sunday in April I was finally able to share the truth of what really happened in Berkeley County, SC in regards to the death of my husband.  However, what was most precious to me was the fact that I got to hug others who’ve never had the opportunities I’ve had to share their own stories.  Living in an area that has been controlled for years by a corrupt regime, it’s hard to know who can be trusted.  Silence had become the native tongue for many – until now.  I had the amazing privilege to be a microphone for others who, some for the first time, needed to unlock a painful place and let out a poison that had silenced them for so, so long.  Feelings of hopelessness had gripped them and fear seemed to have a vice around their tongues, but on April 19, 2015, people began to open up and let the light of truth swallow up the darkness.  When the light is allowed to shine, darkness can no longer reign.

Of course I’m disappointed in the outcome of the race for Sheriff, but I am not in despair.  My hope does not rest in man’s decisions.  My hope is in Christ alone, therefore I am joy-filled today.  God told me years ago, “Just as Able’s blood cried out from the ground, so does Warren’s, and I will vindicate.”  He sees and knows all and already has a plan in place.  Who am I to question or dictate how He unfolds His promise?  My only job is to follow His leading.  God led me to speak on the behalf of the sweet people of South Carolina, and now, He is calling me forward from here.

It appears a battle was lost on May 5th when the number of votes in the runoff election were not enough to put Brian Adams in office, but we never lose when we walked when God says to walk.  Obedience is always a win, even if it doesn’t look that way at first.  I think the people of Berkeley County have a great start in the right direction, and I urge them all to keep standing for truth and speaking out on its behalf.  They are worth it and God is their shield and protector.

Even if all seems lost, nothing is lost when we follow Truth.  There is a much bigger picture that is unfolding.  We cannot stop running and fighting on the side of right when a battle is lost.  Life is the race, and we all must run it to the end.  It is there that God “will vindicate” and all will make perfect sense.

When you know you’ve done all you can possibly do, you can hold your head high no matter the outcome.  God is good and right in all things.  He is sovereign.  Keep moving forward!

~Shannan
 
I will resume my normal blog posts in the coming days.  I’m so excited to talk with you about love – “as the last petal falls…”!

Why Not So Happily Ever After?

Not So Happily Ever After

 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails…” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a

When in a dating relationship, we’re quick to fight hard for the other person, for their happiness and well-being.  We’re conscious about being kind, polite, patient, and we give of ourselves until exhaustion forces us to surrender to our pillow for a full nights rest.  We think good thoughts, dream good thoughts, and speak good thoughts over the other person as we believe in them, hope in them, and endure with them.  “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that will keep us from trying to make sure the other person is happy.

“I Do!”

After the wedding, we often shift from a selfless servanthood attitude to a selfish mentality that’s more demanding.  With all their imperfections, we longed for their time, their attention, and their love, before a commitment was made, only to allow our spouse’s imperfections to dictate our level of love after the wedding.  What happens to grace after the honeymoon?

Back to real life!

The awesome and the ugly things of life were present before the week on the pink sandy beach, so why are we surprised when both the good and bad continue after?  Real life with our jobs, family, friends, and hobbies was happening before the wedding too.  So are those more beautiful than ever sunrises and sunsets that we enjoyed through the eyes of new love.  They’re still happening, even when work resumes, when the babies come, and when the in-laws show up.  So, why do we stop enjoying time with the one we pledged our heart to?  When does the shift from selfless to selfish happen, and why?  When is it that we decide not to be each other’s hero anymore?  It’s as if we can no longer be best friends once we take on the title of husband, or wife.

It happens to all of us.

Step by step, one accusing thought leads to another, and so begins the dialog in our mind.  Instead of taking the thoughts captive, we feed the attacking whispers until they grow from an accusation to a guilty verdict before the other person knows they’re even on trial.

I don't remember you looking this way before the wedding, and you smell funny!

I don’t remember you looking this way before the wedding!?!?

AND YOU SMELL FUNNY!

The rose-colored glasses get traded, not for glasses that give us clearer vision, but for ones that distort with a darkened cloud of the “What about Me?” syndrome.  The more we listen to the whispers, the more our eyes get clouded by lies.  Little by little we begin to close our heart off to the one we said we would love for a lifetime–for better or for worse.  Did we really mean, “For as long as you make me happy.”?

Could it be that we’re placing an unrealistic expectation on another person to ensure our own happiness?  That’s a lot of pressure to demand from another imperfect human being.  If we’re willing to be honest, we have to admit that we ourselves can’t even live up to some of the expectations that we demand from others.

I think unmet expectations contribute to a lot.  We build a fantasy world in our mind about what life will and should be, and then we choose to live there instead of in reality.  After all, we always get to be right in our personal fantasy land.  Getting real with ourself will most-likely be the first unmet expectation that will disappoint us the most.  It’s easier to look through a microscope at someone else than to look into a mirror.  If only we could step into the messiness of reality by surrendering selfishness to embrace the adventure of living life together–with our own spouse.  If only we could find the enormous amount of courage that it takes to lay down the facade of our internal world and allow ourselves to be exposed for who we really are, a work in progress with equal amounts of imperfections as the other person.  Only then can we truly live in the land of “Happily Ever After” with the one we chose to partner our life with.

If they really knew me.

I also believe that many of us are fearful, not so much to love another person, as much as we fear being vulnerable to being loved.  The fear of letting someone get so intimately close that they can peer into our deepest thoughts and emotions scare us.  Many of us can’t accept ourself.  That leaves us fearful that no one else could either if we truly let them see us.  “I struggle with acknowledging my own shortcomings to myself, so how in the world could anyone else truly love me if they find out about…(fill in the blank)?”  We wrestle!  “If people really knew the thoughts I had to take captive, the things I get impatient over, and the things I’ve done in my past, they would never want me.”  Fear causes us to lock up our heart.  It causes us to demand the position of control.  Fear is a deadly enemy of trust and is a dark smoke-screen to truth.  Sadly, there are many marriages that exist only in the smoke.  They never come to know the freedom of living in the light of truth and trust.

When fear screams at us to run and hide, to push others away or control the boundary lines of how close they can get, let’s remember that it is satan that is the accuser of the brethren.  He not only accuses others but he is also the one who is reminding us of our own past mistakes and shining the spotlight on our own personal flaws.  This is the very moment we need to draw strength from God to face our past.  Remember, Jesus has already redeemed it.  Once we can accept God’s love and forgiveness, we will be free to acknowledge the areas we are still needing to grow, and grow we will, like a flower fully exposed to the sun.  If the accuser can’t get us to self-loath, then he will do his best to blind us to what others do for us by shining a spotlight on what they don’t do.  But, if we can come out of hiding from ourself, then we won’t be so quick to push others away as they work through their own imperfections and fears.  Grace can abound after the preacher pronounces two people “Husband and Wife”, and Ever After can be happy.

Happily Ever After starts today.

In the middle of the dishes, the house repairs, the screaming babies, and the hard to please bosses, we can choose to find the beauty of real life.  Sure, life gets hard, but in the hardships let’s not fail to see the truth.  We are a part of a great adventure.  We are laying a legacy for future generations.  Our actions and reactions today can cause a ripple effect that will last for many lifetimes to come.  Today, I can choose to love all the wonders that are before me – today – or I can slip away into my internal world and live a lifetime of lies.  If we live too long affected by the “What about me?” syndrome, we will die never knowing the elation of true intimacy–to know and be known.  The legacy we pass on will be a cloud of fearful smoke.

The choice is mine.  I can leave a legacy of love and commitment, or one of selfish ambition and deceit.

Married or single, let’s thank God for His love and for teaching us to surrender to Him.  If we can open our heart to God and allow Him to love us intimately, we’re more likely to love deeply and have the ability to receive love when it’s offered.

You never know when your part of this adventure will end, so purpose to take some time during the next sunset to reminisce about the day’s crazy adventure.  Give thanks for the one God allowed you to walk this journey with, as imperfect as you are.

God’s mercies are new every morning, so let ours be also.

~Shannan

Purpose to be each other’s happiness, then you can live Happily Ever After in both the awesome and the ugly things of life.

You Go To The Bathroom!?!? – Video Blog

I promised a friend I would post this, so here you go my friend!  You know who you are 😉

In school I was often labeled a snob, but I was just so extremely shy.
Have you ever been prejudged?

“When They Began”

I woke up this morning and felt doubt trying to steal my hope, so I began to pray before my feet ever touched the floor.

     Dear Abba… You’ve promised that if your people delight in You, then You will give us what our hearts long for.*  I am at rest knowing that You are good and You cannot lie.  I believe You!  In my weariness, please help my areas of unbelief.

Morning Praise 2

Am I the only one who struggles with doubt?  Oh, my faith is strong for others and my vision for you is great, so why do I wrestle with belief for my own heart’s desires to be fulfilled?  Could it be because I know my faults and the areas of struggle that I’ve yet to surrender?  Is it that I’m bracing myself for another “No” from God, because of the heartache I’ve known in my past?  I don’t see others as having to be perfect to receive their request from God.  If perfection was a requirement we would all be buried under the weight of despair.

I believe a huge part of my struggle is that I often fail to recognize that God is leading my every step.  Society has conditioned us to only acknowledge the giant leaps.  Rarely is anything seen as valuable unless it has a parade of accolades trailing behind it, so in the mindset of this world it doesn’t look like I’m stepping at all, but if I am pressing into God I am in motion.  Paul and Silas, even while in chains, trusted God and sang praises to Him.  With every breath of praise, they were stepping in faith.*  

What seems desolate today may lead to greater victories tomorrow.  It was after Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God that their chains fell off, along with the chains of all the other prisoners.  Our praise is not only for our own gain.  Paul and Silas not only celebrated a personal miracle but they got to rejoice with many others as they too were freed from both physical and spiritual chains.

God?  That’s really crazy!

God told Jehoshaphat to send the worshipers ahead of the troops into battle.  God gave a promise that He would fight the battle for them.  “You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!  Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you…  Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets and you shall prosper.” (2 Chor. 20:17 & 20b).

Sing Praise

“When they began to sing and to praise”

Jehoshaphat was obedient to God’s crazy request, so God caused his enemies to fight against each other.  God’s love is true and pure.  His love is unchanging.  His love is the same for all of us, so if you believe that God will restore the lives of those you pray for, then you must believe for yourself also.  If I believe for you but fail to trust when I pray for my own needs, then I have become prideful.  Ultimately, my lack of faith is stating that Jesus is enough for you but He is not enough for me.  Ouch!  To think I can be so arrogant, that’s a really painful thought.

Jesus paid a debt He did not owe and I owe a debt I could never pay.  I can’t, but Jesus did!  When I gave my life to Christ, He covered me with His perfection, and I too can take my request to God and ask believing – even when I’m still struggling with my faith.  Wrestling with faith shows the presence of faith.

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

Having emotions is not wrong, it’s what we do with them that matters.  This morning as I felt hope draining from my heart, I called to the One where hope begins.  In faith I called to God as I surrendered my unbelief.

“ALL the promises of God are “YES”!*  So take a deep breath, rest in Him, believe for yourself like you believe for others, and say “AMEN!” – 2 Cor. 1:20

In the words of a wise friend of mine, “It’s an honest request that God delights to honor; and when we see our faith increase, we know to give the glory back to God.”, (Kimberly Wyse).  The more I recall what God has done, the more I find rest in knowing that He will continue to amaze me.  God is good!

What chains have you bound?  Are you physically shackled?  What emotional weights keep you hidden in fear rather than functioning in faith?  Are you burdened by people’s false accusations?  Or, are you struggling with forgiving yourself for wrongs you’ve committed?  Whatever it may be that taunts your mind today, take the thoughts captive and give God praise.  He’s still writing your story.

~Shannan

2013, Growing Forward In Love!

* Scripture references, Psalm 33:18, Psalm 37:4, Acts 16:25-34, 2 Cor. 1:20

Along A 3 Mile Journey

I left the Ipod at home and ran the 3 miles in silence.  Time alone with God is priceless.  I prayed for a few people who have been close in thought, and then I asked God for a few personal things for myself.  For me to ask for myself is a rarity.  I asked for things that my heart desires, even some earthly wants, but mostly I asked for knowledge and wisdom.  The words rolled off my tongue in between each stride and calculated breaths, and then moments of silence left room to listen.  There was a tug on my heart in a moment when all I could hear was the sound of my feet hitting the paved path, I knew there was more to ask for.

“Holy Spirit give me the words I need to pray.”

“Dear God, I’ve read that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived because he asked for wisdom and You gave it to him.  I am asking for wisdom for the life You’ve called me to, but I am also asking for the strength of mind, heart, and body to strongly walk out this journey.  Give me courage to stand for You when others around me may not.  Fill me with Your grace and mercy for those You bring my way.  Help me to walk in boldness but let meekness and gentleness be my demeanor.  Let Your truth occupy my thoughts, Your peace fill my home, and Your love flood my heart, so that I can extend You to others.”

I ran another full lap before anymore words were spoken or heard.  I realized how I can be like a child in the backseat of a car on a long trip.  “Are we there yet? How much further?” my heart so often cries.  Then I thought about my recent travels through northern Ohio and Canada.  My round-trip total was 2500 miles, but it was in the last few miles that I was the grown woman in the front seat with my mind and body screaming, “ARE WE THERE YET?”  It would not have taken much for me to pull over and take off the safety of my seatbelt and find a hotel, but I was so close to home.

It’s often in the times of our greatest struggle, deepest pains, and when fear screams the loudest, that we are so close to breakthrough, so close to change, so close to home.

My prayers continued..

“Thank You God that this season is almost over!  I don’t know what that means or how it will look in the end, but I thank You that I am almost there.  Please do not let me forget the encouragement You’ve given to me today.  Thank You for whispering hope to my heart and telling me that I’m so close to a breakthrough.  Please guard my mind from the lies of the enemy, and keep me grounded in Your truth – even when my heart feels the weight of the unknown.”

I thought about the desires of my heart that I had asked God for at the start of my run, and then I thought about a soldier on the battlefield.  A wise soldier puts himself through vigorous training before he ever picks up his weapon for war.  At this moment I felt God’s peace in where I am in this season of waiting.  The waiting is hard, but in the wait I am actively preparing, vigorously training, for when the season changes.  I am seeking scripture and hearing testimonies of what it means to be a true woman of God.  How can I be a person of meekness and have a peace-filled home if I do not allow God to teach me and fill me now?  How can I be a strength and help to the one God gives me to walk along side, and why should I be trusted with a heart if I’m not allowing my own heart to be transformed?  With these questions always before me I keep seeking transformation.

It did not take many more steps into my run before I started to fear.  Many of my recent let downs and pains started to flood my mind.  With tears now filling my eyes, I found I was wanting to add mortar to the bricks that make up the safety walls I’ve built around my heart.  My familiar companions, fear and doubt, had caught up to me and were trying to taunt my mind.

So I chose to pray more!

“God is this fear that I am feeling Your warning?  If not, please do not let me listen to the lies the enemy so freely whispers.  Make my thoughts Your thoughts.  This season has left me tired and I don’t feel I can take much more.  Please do not let me fall.  You are my shield and protector.”

It was in this moment that God reminded me of my request made just moments before, “Please do not let me forget the encouragement You’ve given to me today…for whispering hope to my heart and telling me that I’m so close to a breakthrough”  Wow!  How quickly my feelings can lead my mind to stray from truth.

There are times when we must stay strapped into the safety of our seatbelt.  Getting out too soon could leave us just a few miles from home.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23

There are also times when we must not let fear place a padlock on our safety belts.  If fear of the unknown becomes our guide we will get stuck sitting in our car even if we’ve already arrived at home, and if past failures and pains are the meditations of our mind then the blessings of the future will never be in reach.

All of these thoughts came from a short 3 mile run.  Would you like to hear my thoughts from one of my 8 mile runs?  Ha!

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him In 2012!

I don’t know what my round-trip total will be for this journey, but I am So Close To Home!

“Please do not let me forget the encouragement You’ve given to me today.”

BROKENHEARTED

I went for a long run yesterday morning.  As I ran, I was wondering how many of us fail to ask for our heart to be healed?  We often ask for the healing of the physical body, but rarely do we ask for God to heal the wounds of our heart.  We spend so much time running from the pain that we can’t see that there is a cure for our sadness and fears.

God wants to heal those places that have been broken by the pains others have inflicted, as well as the broken bones, the headaches and the sore throats.  He cares just as much about our emotional wounds as He does the viruses and cancers.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].  He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.  Great is our Lord and of great power; His understanding is inexhaustible and boundless.”  – Psalm 147:3-5 (amp)

What is it that burdens your heart?  What sorrows cripple your trust?  Will you be willing to face and acknowledge them just long enough to hand them to the Healer?  I promise He is gentle with the creation He calls “Very Good”.*

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him In 2012!

Still Keeping it real!

Faith is getting a word from God and believing it.
* Genesis 1:31
* Romans 10:17