Warning! My Eyes Are Hot!

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”  – 2 Cor. 4:8-9

2013, “The most lonely I’ve been since…”

Eyes On Fire

As if the approaching holidays were not already hard enough, December 2012 began months of gut-wrenching loneliness and extreme exhaustion.  Coady was getting sicker and sicker and I was starting to have dizzy spells.  I also started to notice that the white part of my eyes were not so white, and my eyes felt like there was a fire burning behind them.  One of my doctors dismissed it several months earlier, but she didn’t really look at my eyes.  So after several months and a slow progression of it getting worse, I asked my sports doctor about it when I was in to see him for the balance issue.

He said the discoloring was very subtle, but if he looked close enough he could see what I was talking about.  He set me up with a new family doctor who saw me that very day.  That’s when the weekly blood work began, lasting for months, which led to a full ultra-sound of my abdomen.  My liver enzymes were climbing and the team of doctors could not understand why.  Apparently, an angry liver makes my eyes hot and can cause dizziness.  As time passed without answers, I continued to get physically weaker.  The higher the levels climbed, the harder it became to perform the simplest of tasks.  I was getting scared.  I went from running 10 miles to struggling to stand up.  I felt like I had 100 lbs. weight in my legs.  To parallel my failing health, Coady was becoming more ill with each passing day and dropping weight.  He was having test after test.  I was having test after test.  I felt like I was carrying Mt. Everest every time I stood up and Coady was having to be rushed outside every hour or half hour.  Sometimes he would have to go out 3 or 4 times in a row just so he could try to empty his bladder.  To add to the pain, this was all happening during the coldest months of the year.  Needless to say, I was exhausted and felt the extreme loneliness of this valley.  He and I were in this completely alone.

I was at a complete loss.  I am very proactive when it comes to my health.  I don’t drink alcohol or smoke.  I eat as much organic as I can.  I exercise.  I do everything I’m suppose to do.  So, on my way home from the ultra-sound I began to pray – again.  I poured out my heart to God.

“You’ve stripped me of everything and that is Your right, but I don’t understand this.  I don’t know what else to do…  Regardless, God, You owe me nothing.  No matter what, You are good.”

An honest prayer does the heart, mind, and soul good.

Help Me Find It

My level of fear rose when I discovered that my doctor had requested the technician to take scans of a larger area than what she and I had originally talked about.  In her office, we talked about the liver and kidneys.  She ordered a complete ultra-sound of my entire abdomen.

On my way home from the ultra-sound, I came to a resolve.  I told God that He will either heal me or take me home, because if they found anything I was not taking treatment.  I have no family, no kids, and to be completely honest, I was too tired and had no more fight left in me.  I do not have a death wish.  On the contrary, I want to live and love!  But, I am also good with going home.

I’m not strong enough on my own…

“For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Cor. 4:15-16

If He heals me – I Win!  If He takes me home – I Win!

It only took me 15 minutes to drive home, so you can imagine how my heart leaped up to my throat when my phone rang 5 minutes after I walked in the door.  During the 5 minutes before the call, I sat at my kitchen table and said these words, “I get it God.  I am not in control.  I can do all I know to do, but really, it is all up to You.  I get it.  I can’t eat healthy enough.  I can’t exercise enough.  I can’t clean enough.  I can’t BE enough on my own…  It’s all You.  I get it.”  I knew and acknowledged all the stuff I was trying to control, the things I’ve picked up when everything else in my world was stripped from me.  This was just another area God was wanting me to surrender.

He wants ALL of me.

It was after my prayer of refusing treatment, my prayer of surrender, when the doctor called to tell me that the test came back normal.  All clear!  What doctor actually calls that fast to tell you you’re fine?  Totally God!  But, the doctors still had no clue to what was attacking my liver.

God truly leads our every footstep.  When we’re not thinking about every little step, He is.  God paired me with the perfect doctor for me.  She is so sweet.  She’s also the first doctor I’ve had since Warren’s death that actually took time to get to know me.  I had scheduled appointments with other doctors over the years while I was still feeling great, asking them to do blood work.  I had lost a lot of weight when my husband, Warren, died and I wanted to make sure all of my vitamin, mineral, and hormone levels were where they needed to be.  Those doctors would hardly looked at me!   They just dismissed me as a young grieving widow who needed to eat.  One doctor told me I just needed to go eat a BigMac.  I was furious as I left.  I just paid this “doctor” to tell me to go eat crap!  Oh excuse me.  He told me to eat what almost every other doctor tells their patients to avoid.  Let me just state, I was well aware of the grieving process, and this is exactly why I was trying to be proactive with my physical health.  Thankfully, God used my sweet new doctor from India to confirm that maybe I should dig deep, see what may still be gripping my heart, and then let go.  Grief, of any kind, is a journey.  Layer by layer the losses are uncovered as the shock wears off.  Along with some adopted mommy talk, my new physician told me to avoid cinnamon because it is a heat producer.  My liver is on fire, so I was to research and eat only cooling foods.  Thankfully I can still eat Indian food!  By the way, she also listened to what all my diet consist of.  She was the first and only one that took the time – to see me.

After I hung up the phone, I was still unsure of what was going on, but I knew God was up to something and in full control.  I knew He had not left me completely alone in this very alone season.  Truthfully, 2013 was the most lonely I’ve been since I stood over Warren’s grave.  Yet still, God is so near.  I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my prayers and then continued to pray.

“God, please heal all that grief has made sick.  Show me who You created me to be.  Who is Shannan?  Who am I before the pain of this world touched me?”*

This is not just about my losing Warren, that’s only one season of my life.  There is more to me than his life and death.  This prayer comes from a heart that is fully opening up to God, allowing Him to open every wound, every pain-filled place, and clean me out.  It is a painful process, but the freedom that follows is so worth it.  I’d much rather face this pain for a moment than to carry it for a lifetime.

No immediate answer came.  No big “AHA” moment.  But, there was an internal knowing that God’s hand was at work, so I started to think about when it was that I started to feel bad.

I started to developed major food allergies about 7 years ago.  I now react to eggs, walnuts, and fish is an ever-growing concern.  With every exposure to seafood, my reaction intensifies.  In the months leading up to this frustrating season, I had added coconut to my diet because of all its health benefits.  I even switched to using it as a lotion to avoid all the chemicals that are in most everything we consume.  I was also adding different forms of protein to my smoothies because I was told I needed them.  Well, the people telling me I needed this stuff failed to see what my diet already consisted of, mostly fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs in my ginormous salads, lentils, yogurt, etc..  It was obvious that my liver was becoming toxic from something new added, so the process of elimination continues.  For now, I avoid coconut completely, and I limit certain spices.  My eyes are white again!  I’m slowly regaining strength.  God is teaching me a lot more than I can write about in one blog.  Let me encourage you.  No, let me assure you.  God is never absent.  God is always with you and always has a plan and a purpose.  He waste nothing.  NOTHING!

When you, like I often am, are tempted to give up, run to Him instead.  Surrender all and you will gain everything you will ever need.  You will gain His presence, and in His presence you will find His peace that passes all your understanding.  In His presence you will have all the fullness of living an abundant life.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Cor. 4:17

God alone gives me life.  He is my every breath and heartbeat.

“I’d much rather face this pain for a moment than to carry it for a lifetime.”

Wouldn’t you?

~ Shannan

2014, Staying Faithful and Walking In New Beginnings.

God Is Good!

* Disclaimer:  Let me add a warning label here that I failed to add when I shared my story with someone else.

WARNING:  In so praying this prayer, the prayer for “God to heal what grief has made sick”, be sure to prepare to feel like your skin is being peeled layer by precious layer from your body until there are no more layers to rip from your grip.  Be assured, this is NOT really happening.  You may also feel that the entire world is watching you as you stand naked and cold before them.  These are just a few, but not limited to, some of what you may experience.  Any other side effects fall under the description, “etcetera… etcetera… etcetera…”  These imagined side-effects are temporary.  Rest assured.  IT IS WORTH IT.  The end result will feel like a rush of fresh air to your lungs.  Be courageous.  Begin your journey.  Now commence to pray.

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On Our Way To 100%

Mama & Coady Cuddle

Rest Is A Must Now

“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

There’s Only One Word For This!

I had no words, so I asked the Holy Spirit how I should pray.

I have so many people on my heart for various reasons, and I’ve come to a loss for words when I pray for them.  As I asked for this wisdom I was reminded of the most powerful prayer we can pray.  I was reminded where it is that we find everything we need and where all that we long for is discovered.  One word came to my mind to offer on behalf of my friends – “Jesus”!  This is all the Spirit spoke to my heart, and He is more than enough.  This is where restoration not only begins but where it is complete.

A Broken Heart – JESUS!

A Broken Home – JESUS!

Financial Issues – JESUS!

In Sickness – JESUS!

In Loneliness – JESUS!

In Need Of Forgiveness – JESUS!

In The Valley Of The Shadow Of  Death – JESUS!

In The Valley Of Depression – JESUS!

I offered no other words, but as I spoke His name over each person that came to mind all the trials of this world suddenly became powerless.

Throughout my childhood and into the beginning years of my marriage, I struggled with the words “thank you” and “I love you”.  I was full of gratitude and loved deeply, but when words are rarely heard, they can feel like a foreign language rolling off your own tongue.  I remedied this problem by putting into practice a very simple solution, I started saying them.  As silly as it sounds now, it wasn’t easy for me to speak these words at first, but the more I did the easier they became.  Now I value every moment I have to sincerely express these emotions.

About six months ago I realized how rare it was for me to say the name of Jesus.  I talked about God and had no problem with referring to Jesus as Lord, but to say His name was more rare than common.  I sang gospel songs for years that used His name, but to actually speak the name of the One that I call friend did not come easily.  With my new awareness I had to ask myself , Why don’t I say His name?  Why is it so uncomfortable for me to do?

I don’t know that I have one good reason to give you in answer to my self-imposed questions, with the exception of my previous childhood example.  So, I drew from the lesson I learned with those most precious words of “thank you” and “I love you”, and I applied the same prescription to solve this newly discovered language barrier – I started saying His name.

Having my tongue tied up in knots and unable to breathe His name out loud, as I would with any of my other friends, kept me from so many blessings and freedoms.  When I say “blessings”, I’m not at all implying Jesus to be likened to a genie in a bottle, that when called on He gives us all the earthly toys we want.  No, He’s a much better father than that.  The sweetest blessings to me are seeing a prayer answered for a hurting friend, or witnessing a lost soul meet Jesus and come to know that they are worth far more than their social status or job title.  This freedom can only come one way, at the name of Jesus.

“For this reason, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

When we are a part of God’s family, it isn’t bondage that makes us bow our knees, but the joy of our freedom in Christ.  I get more and more excited as I think on this topic and discuss it with friends.  Will you allow me to elaborate on my thoughts for just a moment?

The scripture states that, “every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess…”  I don’t know about you, but I always read this scripture with the mindset that this is a futuristic happening.  My mind heard it as, “When Jesus returns at the end of time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.”  But that’s not what it says!  It says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – PERIOD.  This excites me because I realize that now, at this very moment, there are knees bowing as I speak His name.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  -Eph. 6:12

If we are wrestling here and now then we need now power.  What is our now power?  Jesus!

““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (Again, it’s in the now, not just somewhere in the future).”  -John 14:12-14

If we are going to do greater works than Jesus did, then we must recognize how that’s even possible.  How can I have faith to be victorious if I don’t know where faith begins?  Just think, when we speak His name, all that we are wrestling in the spiritual world must bow and submit to the authority of Christ.

Many have given me the humbling compliment of “You’re Strong.”  My strength is knowing that my strength is only because of Christ in me.  I am not “strong” by my own merit.  I’m lost without Him.  I’m too tired without Him.  I’m too broken by this world without Him.  But JESUS!!!  He is my energy to press on.  He is my wholeness.  In Him alone I am found!

My Peace – Jesus!

My Hope – Jesus!

My Joy – Jesus!

My Healing – Jesus!

My Ability To Forgive – Jesus!

My Ability To Trust – Jesus!

My Ability To Love – Jesus!

On The Mountaintop of success – JESUS!

Anything Good In Me – JESUS!

My Source Of Strength…

“Darkness knows its Lord and the prince of darkness is not its lord.” – Pastor Austin Cagle

JESUS!!!

They Bow Down.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

Transforming!

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Setting my human desires aside, but not ignoring them, I’d rather be transformed by the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus.  What is more beautiful than people seeing Christ in you, before they see you?  Nothing!

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand,

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name,

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

*Rhea F. Miller, 1922 Copyright: public domain

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I’m Pressing On!

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  ~Phil. 3:7-15

~Shannan