My Life’s A Paradox?

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I’m coming to the end of a book study entitled, ‘The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows’.  One of the questions asked is, “In your own life, have you experienced the paradox that weakness and vulnerability allows Christ to shine most clearly?”

YES!

My struggle is learning how to rest, especially when most everyone around me insists that I do or be something that will make them feel better.  It’s been said to me, “We just want to know you’re ok so that we can move on.”

I’m now aware that these pressures have caused me to fight against God and His attempts to teach me that it’s completely ok to rest at His feet.  We are often critical of Martha’s busyness and praise Mary as she sits at Jesus’ feet,* but then we turn to those around us and demand that they need to be doing something more.  Once they start doing more we then ask them, what’s next?  More is never enough.

Abide, to rest and rely on Jesus, in who He is and not in what we do.

In May 2012, I went back to speak in the town where my husband, Warren, was killed.  I stood on the platform, but before I could speak a word the people stood to their feet and honored me with applause.  I cried.

Six years prior to this speaking date, my whole life was stripped from me in a matter of seconds, (Click here for Testimony).  Over the years I have wrestled through the loss of my husband and my career.  I’ve talked with the press, I’ve fought a corrupt legal system, and I’ve felt the blow of people who told me I was letting God and Warren down by not keeping our ministry team, The Parker Trio, on the road.

In addition, many people told me “you will be great when…”, and then they gave me their ideas of what they felt would bring value to me and an adequate reason for Warren’s death.

There I stood six years later, not doing all that some thought I would do, and it left me feeling not so great for not measuring up to their expectations.  To say that I was humbled by the people of South Carolina who so sweetly honored me is an understatement.  In all of the messiness of the court hearings, the media, and the grief, I was unable to fully recognize those who had been quietly and prayerfully walking this journey with me.

That weekend in May, God began to open my eyes.  He took me back so that I could see forward.  God wastes nothing.  As a friend of mine, Joseph Watson, so beautifully pointed out, “Whenever we find closure from something major in our life, it translates into opening doors for others around us.”  Many of you reading this blog have been tenderly watching me walk through a dark valley, and for this reason I want to openly and honestly share all that God is teaching me.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony…”  – Rev. 12:11

Wax On, Wax Off!

I still feel a lot like the Karate Kid in training as he questioned the purpose of the “Wax on, wax off” exercise, but I know now that God’s purpose will be revealed in His time like it was that weekend in SC.  After each service, people shared with me their personal stories and how they found strength to forgive.  They witnessed my willingness to let God reign over my darkest season.  I had two men speak with me that Sunday to tell me they hadn’t forgiven the man who killed my husband, but because I was willing to release him then they would also.  To God be all glory!  So many times I have felt worthless as I walked the tiresome and lonely path through the valley of the shadow of death.  Now I stand amazed at the way God has been working the entire time.   I do not need to feel guilty for the season of solitude God has me in with Him.  I mustn’t waste my energy fighting Him but embrace the season of rest.  Like Elijah, I need to rest and “eat for the journey is too great”*.  I need to allow God to quiet me so He can teach me all that I will need for each new journey ahead.

“He takes that which is broken and mends it by His grace, and He reaches out to others through those places where His grace is most visible in us.” – The Good and Beautiful God, page 165

God truly is transforming me.  People meant well when they came to me with their suggestions and I took their thoughts as caring.  Warren’s life and death are a part of my story which needs to be told, but it is not all of my story.  I am who I am because of God living and breathing in me, for all of my life’s events, from my birth until now, until the day of my death.  I must not let my, and other people’s, feelings cocoon me in a specific event in time.  I must allow God to walk me through each past memory and present emotion, so that I can be ready to embrace every new adventure He has planned for me.  Seasons do change and new will come!

My glory is not in what I do but in whose I am – one in whom Christ dwells.  I am His.  I am accepted.  I am enough.

I don’t know if my life is a paradox, but God certainly does call me to do things that go against all logic, things that are out of the box, yet in time His path makes complete sense.

“Most of all, I want to thank my Redeemer and Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Thank You for choosing me and reminding me that You are in control of every situation.” – Warren Parker, Written homecoming day, Jan. 7 ’06

Now it’s your turn.  In your life, or in the life of someone else, have you experienced the paradox that weakness and vulnerability allows Christ to shine most clearly?

~Shannan

Walking Forward Victorious and Loving Deeper, 2013!

“If he’s not Lord of our past, then he cannot be Lord of our future.  We never know how many people will find freedom whenever we do.” – Joseph Watson ,Youth With A Mission.

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* Luke 10:38-42 * 1 Kings 19:5-8 * 1 Kings 19:19-21

I Want To Be Like Mary Magdalene

I want to be like Mary Magdalene, the Mary of Magdala after she met Jesus that is.

What a great story of redemption and courage.  Mary is another example of what can take place in a life when Jesus is allowed to step in and take over.  Our past does not have to dictate our future.

When we hear the name, Mary Magdalene, we will most likely think of a demonically possessed prostitute from the ghetto.  The Biblical recount of her story does confirm that she was controlled by seven demons, but I cannot find one verse that says she was a prostitute.  I also find nothing in scripture that tells me Mary was from a poor family.  The scriptures actually lead me to think otherwise, though a deeper historical study may prove me wrong.

“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” – Luke 8:1-3

The women that followed Jesus cared for Him and the disciples out of their own “substance” – their own property.  Whether it be actual monetary wealth, or the wealth of things, they had to already have had something in order to provide for them.

~ Physically wealthy yet emotionally poor ~

What we do know about Mary, is that the first half of her life she was controlled by seven demons.  It was when she met and accepted Jesus that she was set free from her tormentors.  She was freed from a life of shame and struggle.  She went from being an outcast to becoming one of Jesus’ disciples.  Mary never forgot what Jesus did for her.  Her life’s testimony from that time forward was filled with love for Him.

It’s ironic to me, not only did God chose a woman, this alone went against the culture in those days, but He chose a woman who had been possessed by demons to be the first one to see Jesus after He rose from the dead.  Can you imagine the thoughts that might have filtered through Mary’s mind as she made her way to the rest of those she now called her friends, and now grieved with?

Her first trip back was to tell them that she went to the grave and that it was empty.  Think about it for a moment.  This woman, who’s companions were once demons, had to go back to those who witnessed her in her moments before Jesus set her free.  They saw the evil that gripped her.  Mary was bound by the same familiar presence that just nailed Jesus to a cross and tortured Him three days earlier.

She must have wrestled with her thoughts.  “They’re going to think I’m crazy!”  “What if they think I’ve given up and allowed my past to come back and take me over again?”  “What if they think I am a phony and tricked them the way Judas tricked us all?”  “Oh but I must tell them, so they can find out what has happened to Him.”  “What else matters at this point?”

~ Now emotionally rich and full of courage ~

With her fist tightly gripping her clothing, pulling it up enough so she would not trip, Mary ran as fast as she could.  With each step gaining speed and her heart beating faster and faster, courage began to rise in Mary.  “What else matters now?  I must tell them!”, her mind resolved.  “I’ll go to Simon Peter and to John!”

Bursting through the doors, her clothes were tousled and dripping with sweat from her sprint, John and Peter looked through their own heartache to see this distraught woman trying to speak.  Mary grabbed just enough air to get the words out.  She finally squealed, “HE’S GONE!”  JESUS IS NOT THERE!”  “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”  Tears streamed down her cheeks as she collapsed at John’s feet.

~ Courage is worth it ~

They believed her!  Wasting no time, Peter and John bolted from where they were standing and ran as fast as they could to the tomb of their friend, Jesus.  Mary followed.  Once Peter and John arrived and witnessed that Jesus was truly gone, they turned and went back to their homes, but Mary stayed.

Mary stood weeping outside of the empty tomb.  She was trying to make sense of these last three days.  Every tear that poured from her eyes had too many questions to find words for.  She was exhausted in every way, but Mary found strength to look again into the hollowed out rock.  “Jesus, where are you?”  “This cannot be happening.”  “This makes no sense.”  Her mind was racing while she remembered her days spent with Him.  As her heart cried His name, “Jesus”, her eyes were opened to see.  Two angels in white were sitting in the tomb, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

~ He spoke ~

“Mary!”

Mary of Magdala Holds Onto Jesus

Mary, stayed in her place of pain long enough to see the truth and hear from heaven.  She saw the logical truth through her human eyes, but her heart knew there was more that her eyes could not see, so she stayed.  She stayed in the place where she last knew Jesus was until her answer came, until she knew her next step.

Through all of the emotions and all of the confusion, she heard His voice call her name, “Mary!”  “Teacher!”, she cried out with overwhelming joy as she clung to Him.  Jesus told her the truth of what was happening and gave her the instructions to go tell the others.

There’s so much to learn from this small glimpse into the life of Mary of Magdala.  Her journey led her from being spiritually ravaged to being made spiritually complete as she embraced the resurrected Jesus.  This brings a whole new level of hope to us all as God uncovers the dark areas of our own hearts.  If we will face our pain, ask the questions that plague our minds, and be willing to wait there for Truth to reveal Himself, we too can be completely free to run forward.  I’m sure she felt totally hopeless and alone, but Mary wasn’t left weeping at the tomb.  She was willing to wait there until the answers were revealed, and because of this she was able to set out on her next run, renewed with words of hope.  Her physical strength was restored by the words of Jesus, “go find my brothers and tell them..”  At this point I probably would have struggled to let Jesus out of my sight, but in faith, Mary leapt to her feet and ran as fast as she could to deliver the joyous news.  “HE’S ALIVE!”

Jesus is just as present and alive today as He was standing in the garden with Mary of Magdala, and He’s alive in our circumstance right now.  The question is, do we have the courage to wait in faith on Him?  If so, it is in this place where our eyes will be opened and our ears will hear Him call our name.  It is in this place where we’ll breathe in hope again and where our strength will be restored.  Our past will no longer dictate our future.  We will be more than able to run in strength and courage when He says, “Go and tell.”

Her life’s testimony from that time forward was filled with love for Him.  This is how I want to be like Mary Magdalene.

~Shannan

“Diamonds can be found in the trials of life.”

I can truly say, the night the most pain-filled storm sliced through my heart is also the night of my greatest treasure – God’s embrace!

“Love Remain’s”

The story of Mary of Magdala, John 20

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!

Sweet Dreams

How Will Your Stone Multiply?

The other night I had a dream that the ‘Parker Trio‘ was touring throughout Canada.  At the same time we were on tour, Warren and I were in the process of moving into a small apartment.

We had a very busy schedule this raining day.  Warren’s family and the other members of P3 were helping us move into our new and very tiny dwelling.  An assembly line was quickly formed as box after box made their way up the winding stairs into the apartment on the top floor.  The rain was coming down hard, and we could see our new neighbors watching with curiosity through their windows as the boxes came off the bus.  We had just come from one concert performance and had to hurry because we were expected at another location in a couple of hours.  Time was of the essence!

Warren’s mom had a look of extreme concern as she watched me unpack some clothing items and place them in a child-sized wardrobe.  Everything about this already furnished dwelling was small.  The one room studio apartment was made up of old wooden floors and walls – a little dusty too.  The furnishings consisted of an antique looking bed with thin iron posts, and two small cabinets for personal items.  On one side of the cabinet was a series of four drawers and on the other adjoining side was a small wardrobe to hang the longer clothes.  The whole unit only stood about neck high to me, I’m a meager 5’3, and it stretched about four feet across.

Warren and I were smiling from ear to ear.  We were full of excitement, which was coming out of me in tiny giggles!  I was lacing a very valuable gem-stone necklace on a hook inside my credenza as Warren pulled a few other things from a box and handed them to me.  His mom could not keep her concern silent any longer, she asked to speak to him out in the hallway.  I watched as she expressed her concern for us choosing to live in such a place as this, but the smile remained strong on my face and in my heart.  Warren and I knew this home was temporary.  God gave us this promise at the very moment we put the pen to the paper to sign the lease.

You see, this dream is not about what was lost, but it’s about what is now found.  This dream is not about the sacrifices we made for ministry life, but it’s all about what has been gained in the process.  This is a dream full of what is most valuable – God’s word and each other.  Even now I am smiling as I share these thoughts with you.

It’s not hard to figure out the significance of knowing this tiny apartment was only to be temporary.  Each one of us are living in a temporary dwelling.  Our physical bodies will only last for a brief moment, but we have a promise that our perfect and permanent home awaits us when we cross from here into eternity.  Time as we know it is shorter than we care to acknowledge, so we need to make a conscious decision to appreciate and enjoy every moment.

The people who are lined up on the stairs lending a helping hand are all of you.  This is symbolic of the beautiful treasures I’ve obtained along this life’s journey – my priceless gems.  Gems that have created a necklace of great value.  Each precious stone is unique and yet somehow intertwined with the other.  As they touch, the color from one bleeds to the other, still it remains distinct – all its own.

Getting caught up in the everyday concerns of life, I often fail to remember that I do have a powerful impact on this generation and the ones to follow.  Every breath I breathe and every decision I make will cause a rippled effect in my life and in the lives of those around me.  Though I may not always see the outcome of my decisions right away, they are there and do have a great impact.  For this reason, I must be sure that the color of my stone filters the color of love into the precious stone of the person next to me.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” -Ezek. 36:26-27

My heart longs to bleed the love of the Father.  Even as I write this I am praying, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Show me the area’s in my heart and mind that still need to be transformed by Your light.  Keep my heart pliable to follow Your leading.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

It might be a good idea for all of us to hang a plaque on the inside of our doors reminding us of this truth before we walk out into our everyday mission field.

Do You Want To Know Where To Find A Diamond?

It’s hard to believe that five years has past since my husband, Warren’s, sudden death.  At the same time, it also feels like my life as Warren’s wife was a whole other life-time ago.  This day does cause my mind to think about what might have been had he not been killed, but it also causes me to say with the deepest gratitude, Thank You God!

I often tell people, I have been loved in a way that many will never get to experience.  Warren was far from perfect, but his adoration for God allowed him to love me with tenderness.

What I want to acknowledge in writing today, is not so much the might have been(s), but I want to give thanks for what the painful moments have birthed in me.  Though I have faced great sorrow from loving and losing, I’ve also been gifted with a far greater joy than the pain.

Click On Photo To View News Clip

 

The day before the funeral, I stood for 6 plus hours as people came from all over to share their love for me and Warren.  The line was wrapped around the entire church and backed for an hours wait outside the doors.  People I knew and many I failed to recognize came in support.

The next morning the church was packed wall to wall with people.  As I stood to speak, I could see the news media lined along the back wall and all their camera’s had red lights lit up to show they were in record mode.  Following the memorial service we all filtered in our appointed vehicles to make our way to the grave site.  It was all so surreal.  I looked out the window of the limo to see the Ontario Provincial Police (O.P.P) standing tall, saluting as Warren passed by them.  I’m told there was three miles worth of cars that followed behind.

Not once did I hear people say how impressed they were with the stage and lights we stood on, but instead I heard countless testimonies of their personal one on one contact with Warren.  I wasn’t surprised at how his kindness was offered so freely to them, but I was shocked to hear of so many moments he’d never told me about.  He didn’t see his caring heart for others as anything out of the ordinary.  This procession proves how a small act of kindness can have the greatest of impact.

I am abundantly blessed!

For only being 35 years old, I have a huge archive of sweet memories.  Many of you do not know my childhood story.  My goal is to write more on this topic in the months ahead.  This life’s journey is a series of storms, no doubt, but we need to remember that God speaks peace to the storms.  He places His rainbow in the sky as a reminder that He keeps His promises, (Gen.  9:8-17).  Legend has it that at the end of each rainbow is a pot of gold, but in the legend I have yet to hear that anyone ever receive it.  I am here to tell you that God freely offers that “pot of gold” to each of us.  Though, you may have to adjust your glasses to be able to identify it because it may not look the way you think it should.  Oh Yeah!  By the way, I have been given a lot of pots!

I opened up my Facebook profile today to receive many (e)mailbox hugs from all over the United States and Canada.  Instantly my mind recalled the love given to me from all over the world the week of Warren’s funeral.  I had letters from South Africa, North Korea, and Ireland, just to name a few.  I was in awe!  We had no idea how far God had taken the ministry of the Parker Trio/P3 – this is a priceless pot of gold.  I may never have discerned it’s immeasurable worth had I not walked through the fire first.

I also received a letter today from a friend in Canada.  Lisa use to cut both mine and Warren’s hair.  Warren grew up with Lisa’s husband Jake and we all attended the same home church in Pickering, Ont..  Here’s what made me smile….

“….I felt confused about why God would take Warren home…. I felt the depression coming on me again….Jake and I decided to live without regrets that day in our marriage….because of what you said that day.

Warren and I got married young, I was 20 and he had just turned 25.  Man, typing that makes me feel old…LOL!  We went through that “and the two shall become one” thing, (Matt. 19:4-6) only God didn’t tell us how difficult it would be.  There is a battle of the wills that takes place in both the husband and the wife.  On top of this, we also lived the first 3 1/2 years of marriage with Warren’s parents.  So added to the blender of wills – chop, slice, chop!  Please try to hear me giggle here!  It was not funny then but Warren and I had many laughs about the beginning years later on.  Lisa’s letter means so much to me today, because I have a huge passion to see God restore the family structure the way He intended it to be.

What if it took Warren’s death to shed some light on a few truths for this marriage to survive?

Don’t take me wrong.  They are in no way responsible for what’s happened.  I do not believe God will allow an evil to fall on one of His own simply offer better to another, but He does say he will give beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61:3).  I am still hearing testimonies of lives being positively changed for eternity because of the ministry of P3 and Warren’s tragic death.

“….Find the courage to stand, God is working His plan, There’ll be beauty for ashes.”

The Parker Trio, ‘Beauty from Ashes’.

 

Click On Picture To Hear 'Beauty From Ashes'

 

We will all face trials, tragedies, and heartaches along life’s path.  Will you allow the fire to burn the scales off your heart and eyes, so you can see the beauty, or will you allow the enemy to devour you with the flames?  Either way, you are going to feel its heat, so you might as well choose the beauty that can follow.

“When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” – Isaiah 43:2b

Diamonds can be found in the trials of life, but you will never know those diamonds if you run from the fire.  Today, I have been hugged by diamonds from OH, WA, NC, TN, Ontario Canada, Newfoundland Canada, and today is only half over!

I do not measure my diamonds by their temporal value, but by their eternal quality.

I love you all and would gladly walk this road again for you.

~Shannan

What you place your value in today will either bring you strength and comfort tomorrow, or it will smother you with its weight.

“New life is His….HE LIVES!”

The Parker Trio, ‘He Lives.


 

Click On Photo To Hear 'He Lives'.