Life Beyond The Valley of The Shadow.

Restores

“He restores my soul…” – Psalm 23:3

This life is a series of mountains and valleys, and those valleys cause me to pray with intensity, “God, I need You to keep my heart alive!”

“The Lord is my Shepherd.”

I’ve had their books sitting on my desk for a quite awhile now, just waiting for the moment I knew I was to begin reading them.  My dear friends in ministry, Chris and Rahnella Adsit, have an amazing ministry to those wounded by war.  Here’s a partial quote from one of their writings that rings true in the heart of this lamb, so desperate to be led by her Shepherd.

“I will not let this journey be the end of my joy.  Satan’s lie is that.. (I, you, we) will never get out of this darkness, that.. (our) new, permanent address is the valley of the shadow of… (fill in your struggle).  God’s word tells us the opposite.  His word says we are traveling through the valley, not building our homes there.”

It’s human nature to go into hiding and self-protection in times of fear and great trauma, and we are sheep in need of a Shepherd.  If left on our own we will run blindly into the mouth of a wolf, or we will fall down with no ability to get back up.  We must remember, as heirs to Christ’s kingdom, we have our Shepherd who comes to our rescue, both from the wolves and from our own failings.

“Even Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Nebuchadnezzar was a ruthless and blood-thirsty king.  He held all the power and possessions this world could offer, but one day he found himself far from the kingdom he built.  He became like one of the beast in his fields, eating grass, dirty with earth, his hair covering his body, and his nails like that of a wild bird.  Physical trauma is one thing, but can you image the trauma to his mind?  He went from palace ruler to being ruled by wilderness beasts.

Then, this beast-like creature lifted his eyes toward heaven.  His understanding returned to him, and he gave praise and honor to the Most High.  The glory of his kingdom and his honor was returned to him.  King Nebuchadnezzar declared God’s works true and His ways just.  He was wounded by his personal war, but now was able to proclaimed, “I was restored.”

The Shepherd allowed this king to taste the wilderness for a moment, but He did not allow it to devour him.  If anyone deserved to be devoured during that time it was King Nebuchadnezzar, but God is able to redeem from the vilest of valleys, even those valleys that are self-made.  Like that king, we must be willing to look up and give praise to the only One who can redeem us.   If we will keep “traveling through” and not choose to “build our homes there,” we too will be able to proclaim, “I was restored.” 

Our past is a part of our testimony but it does not have to become our identity.  There is life beyond the valley of the shadow.

“He restores my soul.”

Will you let The Great Shepherd rescue you?

Will you let God keep your heart alive as you walk through this life’s journey?

~Shannan
Finding diamonds in the trials!
 
*Quote from, When War Comes Home, Christ-centered healing for wives of combat veterans, ( ) Shannan’s words.
*Story of King Nebuchadnezzar found in Daniel 1-4

Remember…

I’m not happy with the season I’m in but I am grateful for it.  I am weary, physically exhausted, but I’m strengthened in heart by Joy.  Not everything is for me to understand, but in all things I am confident that God is at work for His glory, and yes for my good.
 
If God cared enough to make the clouds dance (When The Clouds Would Dance) for me when I was two years old as I sat watching the sky, unable to “Be” anything for anybody, I can rest in that He still delights to fill my heart with wonder today.
 
Take a moment to remember what He’s done for you.  No storm of life can change who He is.  He is Good.  He is Love.  Seek Him and you will find Him.
 
“Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, (“While we were still sinners”) won’t He also give us everything else?” – Romans 8:32
 
I would not trade my life’s journey for anything.  In it I have been hugged by God’s presence.  I am rich.
 
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!” – Psalm 23:6
 
Rest.  Look up.  Remember.  Then Smile.  It’s ok!  You are not forgotten!
 
What do you remember?
 
~Shannan
 
The Joy of The Lord Is My Strength, 2013!

I Never Asked For This One Companion

What do you do when you can’t sleep because the weight of sorrow is squeezing the breath from your lungs?  You would think I’d have the remedy to this problem with having to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” so many times over the last few years.  But tonight, another portion of my physical heart ceases to beat.

At this moment, I liken myself to one of the fearful disciples in the boat as the storm rages, (Luke 8:22-25).  My knuckles have become white as they try to hold tight to anything that seems stable…but there’s nothing to be found.  My fingers are left raw for losing my grip once again.

In this valley the wind and rain is coming down so hard, they have thrown me against the rocks.  The voice of hopelessness screams in the winds whistling, but I recall to my mind who I travel with.  I reach through the pain of my bruised heart and call to Hope – JESUS!!!!

I can’t make sense of the current storms of life.  They seem to be so senseless.  I do know it’s not only about my pain.  In the times I cry for my personal grief, I also find myself beginning to cry more for others who I know are hurting.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about my friend, Maurice Carter, who has just been taken from us, and far too young in my opinion.  He and I shared joys and laughed much, but there were also those times that I could see he was sorrowing over something, or someone.  This was one of our common bonds in our friendship.  We never gave details, we just knew.

I’ve realized something through the recent passing of my friend.  Those of us who have been handed the gifts of mercy and encouragement will often have sorrow as a traveling companion.  I used to despise her and see her as a weakness within myself.  Sorrow is not a fun friend along this journey, but her lessons are strengthening.  She gives me what I need to carry the things that bring us pain to the only One who can silence the voice of hopelessness and calm our storms.  This is where I find my lungs able to take in life-giving air again.

Death may invite sorrow to our side, but she is not to be feared.  The emotions brought with her are gifts to get us through the valley.  In the storms of life our hearts are tenderized.  We become aware of our inability to live alone and recognize our need for God.  Death can only win if we choose to run from the natural emotions that are meant to lead us to Life.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” – Psalm 23

I never asked for this one companion, but sorrow is not the only one who follows me, so does goodness and mercy!

When I find myself unable to sleep from the weight of sorrow, I cry, I call to God, and I wait for Him to wipe my tears as His presence calms my anxieties.  Then I choose to trust Him, and I rest.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy (another companion) comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real.

Remembering my friend and the truths he taught and lived out.  Oh to see what he sees!

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!

With Great Passion

Remember The Promise

Sometimes all we have to hold onto is the thin thread of hope we can only feel after the rain of tears has washed our mind clean of worldly perspectives.

Could this ray of hope that’s found deep in the core of my heart be the strength of the One who is holding me?  Could it be, it’s at this moment I will hear the voice of Almighty Abba whispering to me His promises of vindication, restoration, healing, and peace?  It’s in this brief moment of silence between the last tear to fall and the deep breath that I can hear Him, “Hold on.  Don’t let go.  I’ve got you.” Listen for Him!

This world has been tainted by sin.  It is full of corruption.  Our minds, if we’re not careful, can be consumed with the deception of the enemies lies – slowly killing our hope.  Each lie we choose to believe is a deathblow to our real purpose.  We become a fallen soldier.

Can you hear Him?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” -Jeremiah 1:5a

God fashioned us and breathed His breath of life into us for a specific reason.  We were well thought out and with great passion molded in His image, at this moment we were given everything we would need to serve a beautiful purpose here.  We must stay connected to our life breath in order to fulfill that purpose.

When the weight of gut-wrenching pain from loss, another disappointment, and rejection presses heavy on our chest, let’s cling with all our might to that ray of hope.  It’s the rock on which we’ve built our house.  There’s a purging in the storms we face and they’re heartbreaking to say the least, but Jesus gave His promise that He will remain with us.

“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20b

His promises do not end here.  He also gave a promise of abundant life filled with peace and safety.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” -John 10:9-11

Even recently I have faced breathtaking disappointment, but I am choosing to cling to Jesus.  Will you stand in hope with me?  Let’s continue to trust the One who loves us sincerely!

~Shannan


“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalm 23