Christmas Surrendered with Gain

Christmas Surrendered

“May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38

Mary carried Him for nine months, went through the pain of childbirth, mothered Him for thirty-three years, then surrendered Him to crucifixion.

She Surrendered…

Her public honor – to the unbelieving.

Her girlish figure – stretched and torn.

Her comfort – left home pregnant on a donkey.

Her pride – Joseph sees her for the first time as he delivers God’s Son.

She held her deeply loved promise in her arms.  Then, she was forced to surrender Him.  She was just a girl.  Just a human child, and like us, she felt her sorrow.  Mary’s surrender allowed her to hold Love, and then became our eternal gain.

Hope.  Joy.  Peace.

Jesus.  Emmanuel.  Savior of the World!

When God calls us to surrender, He never leaves us empty.  There is always an eternal purpose when we’re willing to say, “may it be done to me according to your word.”

“I’m just a girl, nothing more, but I’m willing, Be Born In Me”

~Shannan

Merry Christmas ~ 2015

Trees Really Do Clap In “a land where love… stays.”

 

Invisible Tree Child

“You will live in joy and peace.  The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!” – Is. 55:12

I was a terribly shy little girl and desperately afraid of people.  I learned at a very early age to be silent.  Silence stood a much better chance to keep the tempers from detonating and held the levies in place over the river ducts in the eyes.  Peace.  I longed for peace.

I was two years old when my family and I moved into a beautiful white brick home.  It was an hour away from our old rundown farmhouse that stood, though leaning slightly, in the middle of nowhere.  I believe it was torn down not long after we moved.  Our new home had plenty of neighbors and was surrounded by lots of trees, beginning with a row of huge pine trees that stretched along the property line between us and our next door neighbor.

The yard at the new house was big and hilly.  There was lots of room to roam and dream, space enough to let my mind imagine a land where good always wins and where the truth didn’t hurt – a land where love… stays.

The back porch was a cement slab that was painted grey with just a few steps.  The front deck ran the length of the house and had a wide staircase in the center.  It was painted with the same grey paint and had a big bench style porch swing.  I can remember the cool summer nights that I would curl up with a blanket and fall asleep cradled in the rocking arms of that swing.  I loved lying on it while it swayed during a warm summer rain.  There was something soothing about the tapping of the raindrops on the roof above, and hearing the water run down the waterspouts into the blades of grass.

Many mornings my little feet would lead me to the back porch to watch the sunrise.  It was there that God would make the clouds dance for this audience of one.  I was filled with awe and wonder and often questioned, “Is that a peek into heaven?”  “How long does it take to get there?”  I was a quiet child but my heart broke its silence there in His presence.

“Open the eyes of my heart that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” – Ps. 119:18

Invisible Tree Child - edited

He captivated me each morning with the wonders of His creation.  As my eyes gazed into the heavens above, I went from being the invisible silent one to being seen by Him.  This child didn’t know much, but I knew God was with me and He was peaceful.  No matter what the day would unfold–I was held.

Some days were less than calm.  My family has had to weather many storms, and each of us dealt with those storms the best we knew how.  Some, like me, were quiet, and some like the sound of thunder.  When the thunder began, I knew the lightning would follow.  Often, I would go to those massive pine trees that stood halfway between our house and the neighbor’s.

There was one specific tree where the branches made a perfect staircase up to a branch that had a flat spot for me to sit.  I was sure it was made just for me.  Some days I would sit there for what felt like hours.  I had friends in the neighborhood, many I’m still in touch with today, but through many seasons those trees held me as God came down from the dancing clouds to sit with me.  Sometimes it felt more like His hand wiping my tears away rather than my own.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit” – Ps. 34:18

I vividly remember the day my neighbors asked if they could trim the half of the trees that were on our side of the property line.  When that day came to a close and I looked out from my second story bedroom window, my heart felt like a hot knife pierced through it.  They didn’t just trim the trees, they cut all of the bottom branches off.  My staircase to “heaven”, my haven, was chopped down.  My hiding place was gone.  Quietly in my room, I cried.

Years passed, and then adult life kept me busy.  I soon forgot how God would meet me in the middle of His creation, and how He would hug me in those special moments.  Just a few week ago, as I was sitting out on my second story deck praying with tears, I heard a sound in the breeze that caused me to pause.  As I allowed my ears to tune in and find the source of creations music, I looked to see the tree just to my right.  Time had allowed the tree to stretch one of its arms to the edge of my deck.  It was clapping!  Its leaves were tap – tap – tapping in sync with the rhythm of the wind’s howl.  I listened in amazement!  For just a moment the levies in my eyes broke as I watched in wonder.  The wind gently blew across my face, and in that moment, it felt more like His hand was wiping my tears away rather than my own.

a land where love… stays.”

Invisible Tree Child - edited

The house I live in now is far more than I could have thought to ask God for.  I am in awe of Him!  I’m grateful that He has brought me here during this quiet season of life.  My house is surrounded by wonderful neighbors and I have lots of trees.  My trees got chopped down so many years ago, but today God gave me a house in the middle of trees.  I may not be climbing trees these days, but I can walk out on my deck and know that the same One who held me with His creation as a child still holds me today.  He meets me here and fills my home with what my heart so longed for as a child.  He fills my home with Himself, with His peace.  I now know “a land where love… stays.”

Most often, it is in the quiet place of waiting where we hear God and are able to see Him.  In stillness, He unfolds the mysteries our hearts are longing to know.  His whispers ride on the winds and the trees really do clap their hands.

He promises, “Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you…” – James 4:8

If we allow ourselves to acknowledge Him, we will see that His presence has been our saving grace, and He our ray of hope all throughout our lives.  It’s the surrendered heart that allows God full access, ears tuned to His voice and eyes that gaze into His, where love abides – “stays.”

Will you pause for a moment and take time to reflect on your life’s journey?  How has God hugged you, talked to you, and shown His love for you?  If you will drawn near to Him and seek Him, He will open the eyes of your heart to see and know Him.  You too may hear the trees applauding and see the clouds dance!

“Peace.  I longed for peace,” and I found Him! 

~Shannan

Invisible Tree Child - edited

“Seek me and you will find Me, if you seek Me with all of your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord..” – Jeremiah 29:13-14a

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!