Without Tasting Sorrow

I Will Live!

 

It is my belief, that without tasting sorrow one cannot truly know the overwhelming joy it is to love.  Don’t run from love for fear of pain.  If you always run from love, in the end all you will have known is pain.

 

Let sorrow teach but let love fully embrace.

 

~Shannan

Take It Back By Letting It Go

Dig It Up!

Take back what the enemy has stolen from you.  Deal with your pain.  Face it.  Allow God to uproot the weeds of sorrow and disappointments.  Yes it’s painful at first, but learning to live in the light of God’s truth about you, and allowing Him to worry about the wrongs done, leaves you free to live.  Some seasons in life are not always full of happy feelings but Joy knows no boundaries of seasons.

Joy comes from a well that never runs dry.  You cannot will Joy into your heart.  Will is a feeling.  It has no power on its own, but you can accept Joy.  He’s ready and waiting to relieve you of sorrow’s grip.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matt. 11:28-30

“Trust is the courage to accept acceptance.” – Paul Tillich

What, or who, has held you captive?

Held Captive

Dig It Up – I just liked this picture 🙂

May this be the day that you find the courage to trade your sorrow for God’s Joy.  Take it back, all that the enemy has stolen, by choosing to let go and live.

~Shannan

You are beautiful/handsome – fashioned in God’s image.  He called all of His creation good but He only stamped mankind with His image.  You may not be feeling it right now but know that you are one that is priceless. ~ Shannan, Facebook post 7/8/2013

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!

Just Taken? Death Was Supposed To Be Foreign To Us.

Maurice Carter - May God allow me to leave behind such a legacy of love...

There have been a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the sudden death of my dear friend Maurice.  I’ve heard people talking about what might have actually happened the night he disappeared.  I’m not going to share any of those thought processes with you now for the sake of his family, and too, I do not want to plant those questionable seeds in your mind.  The human mind has a great ability to build and accept “truths” out of a mound of lies.

Here are my questions.  What if God just took him?  Like Enoch, or the prophet Elijah?  What if God looked down and decided that Maurice did a great job and deserved heaven for his reward?  What if this is the only explanation?  Does that make God bad?

Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and wept.  He wasn’t weeping because He was hopeless.  Jesus knew exactly what He was about to do, but I believe He wept because death was never intended to be a part of our reality.  The physical death we all will face is a result of this fallen world.  As Jesus stood peering into Lazarus’ grave, He was faced with the reality of what He was about to endure to remedy the hold death had on mankind.  In that moment Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus, but I believe He was experiencing the sorrow, and weight, of death itself.  But then He spoke, “Lazarus Come Forth!”

Jesus, in His humanness, stood at a grave site feeling it’s finality.  That day Jesus, as I AM, gave a preview of what was about to unfold three days after we bury Him.  Just as Lazarus came out alive from his tomb, Jesus was about to walk out of His own earthly grave.  The finality of the death we taste is still subject to be obedient to God’s command.  It too must submit to His will.

Lazarus, come forth!”  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” – John 11:43b-44

God has all authority, even over the death of our physical bodies.  So, what if God took him from us?

When my husband was killed many people came to me asking, “Why?”  Why did Warren have to be where he was?  Why did we make the stops along the way in our travels that led us to that place at that exact moment?  Why did God allow Tim Baker to leave the bar when he did?  There were countless questions I was asked to answer that night, and the weeks and months after Warren’s death.  The answer is simple, I don’t know.  I cannot answer for what God allows and what He does not. Truthfully, I still think He doesn’t make sense.  What I think and what He knows rarely ever line up.  I do know that He is God and I am not.  Warren and Maurice belong to Him, and death has no power that God has not given it.  However those precious to me leave this earth, however God chooses to take me from this earth, is all up to His sovereign hand.

We wrestle with the reason and search for more detail because death was supposed to be foreign to us.  We seek and create answers to cope with the mystery of the unknown.  Before Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit we had no knowledge of what we call death.  Sorrow was not part of our design.  We invited this in when we decided to have our eyes “opened” to be like God “knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)It was at this moment in time that redemption’s plan was set into motion.

Why Warren?  Why Maurice?  Why death?  WHY WOULD GOD?

The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.” – Isaiah 57:1

It may just be God’s grace extended to His own.

And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” – Genesis 5:24

Maybe God did just take them?  Whichever theory we decide to believe surrounding the death of our friends and loved ones, we can rest in the fact that God is good and His mercies endure forever.  If we find ourselves questioning God or even getting angry at Him, we must remember that it was our own choosing to have our eyes opened, but God’s grace has made a way through Jesus that we can again walk with Him in peace.

Death may feel final for those of us left behind, but true life, restored life, is waiting beyond its veil.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”


O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” – 1 Corinthians 15:53-55

If there’s no other answer to the multiple questions in our mind but that God is God and He chooses rightly, are we willing to trust and rest in Him?

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

I LOVE AND MISS YOU MY TRUE FRIEND!

Saying goodbye to this friend is a searing knife through the heart, but it’s also the sweetest joy because of the absolute truth that this is only a temporary parting. JESUS is enough and has made a way. Until we all have the honor Maurice has been granted, we must carry the torch forward.

How An Extra 25lbs Can Make You Lighter!

Yesterday I was walking with a friend and her two kids.  The youngest of the two is three years old and so very smart.  We were walking through the store when Rose reached her arms up motioning her desire for me to pick her up.  As I lifted her to my side I whispered, “I know, shopping makes me tired too.”  Surprisingly, the extra 25lbs attached to me seemed to make me lighter.

My heart has been weighted with disappointment the last five years, and more sorrow was added over the last three months.  The more I tried to make sense of everything, the more I realized I can’t.  I simply must trust my Abba in heaven.

I love that from these recent experiences I now can say Abba, Father God, and Heavenly Father, and be filled with comfort and not fear.  A comfort in knowing my daddy in heaven loves me.  He delights in me and wants His girl to shine.  For so long I had such a distorted view of God.  I will touch more on this in future writings.

My focus as I held this precious little one in my arms was to shower her with the same love I was overwhelmed with – true, pure and unconditional.

Rose laid her head next to mine, resting her chin on my shoulder as I began to sing to her…

I will sing praise, I will lift my voice

I will sing praise, I’ve made my choice

I will sing praise, In all I do

I will sing praise to You…..

Each time I would stop singing, she would lift her head and lean her cheek to mine – I would begin again…

No matter the storms that come my way

No matter the trials I may face

You promised that You would see me through

So I will trust in You.

She would rest her head again and cling to me.

When do we, as grown-ups, lose the ability to give and receive love like this?  At what point do the wounds on our heart becomes so callused and hard, and how is it that my heart can find a tender spot for a moment like this?  OH’ WOW!  There’s nothing like a moment like this!  All the pain both past and present have brought me to a sweet place, a place that allows me to appreciate what’s truly important.  I now can see the value of the present.

Refuse to be jaded by pain.  After all, maybe it’s the painful moments in life that really teach us to love.  Maybe I should sorrow not for what I’ve lost but for those who have never been tenderized and given the privilege of discovering the diamonds the fire leaves behind?

~Shannan

It’s Time to discover more diamonds!

Song Info. ‘I Will Sing Praise’

EXPOSED -written while in France 9/22/2009

For many reasons I’ve delayed sending this, but the biggest reason is probably the fear I sometimes tell too much.  I’ve come to the realization that people are going to form and have their opinions of me not matter what I do or say.  Some will understand my words and others may take them in a completely different tone than I myself intend.  My only job is to just be me.  So, Here you have me…

Sunset In Cannes

It’s September 22, 2009.  We went walking along the boardwalk downtown Cannes tonight.

The beauty that surrounds me causes my heart to swell with emotion.  The air is so fresh I purposefully breathe deeply to fill my lungs, then let out a slow steady exhale.  I peer out into the bay where the boats are anchored for the night.  The reflection of their lights dance off the soft ripples of the sea as the water gently rocks the vessels and their captains to sleep.  The number of people are fading but the street musicians continue to play.  I can see many young and old lovers cuddled together gazing out to the vast water, watching as the moon rises in the sky. I know their minds are focused on each other, but their hearts are being summoned by a great eternal force to recognize the gift they each hold in their arms.  I wonder if they realize what they posses? Maybe there’s a rekindling of a fire that’s lain dormant for a while due to the trials of life?  Maybe there’s a second chance being offered?  Maybe that person sitting alone in the distance knows a sorrow like I know, of a gift once had but so quickly gone?  Could it be that any among them are ones choosing to risk all again?  Do they dare to love?

I’m walking here with my friends and their three year old son.  I’ve watched them for the past week in their home, in the business they run together and in conversations over meals.  Their interaction with each other tugs on a place in my heart I almost gave up on.  It’s very rare to witness eyes that tell each other from across the room, “I love you,” but theirs do.  Their decisions are made together.  The choice in they way they raise their son is joint. They allow God to govern their lives and for this they have been blessed.  God’s peace is present in the home of this young family.  This is true beauty to behold.

Since my husbands death a few years ago I have clung to God for strength and grace.  I have needed His faithful and mighty arms to help me weather the storm life has thrown my way, and He has helped me with every step.  I have prayed for God to be my covering and protection as well as asked Him to hold my heart.  When I handed Him my heart for safe keeping, I asked that He would only give it to the one He chooses, if it be His plan that I ever remarry.  I’ve gone on a few dates with wonderful godly men, but that little tug in my heart seems to keep saying no. In human logic I can’t give you a reason because these are good men.  As Jentezen Franklin, a pastor from Gainsville, GA, says, “You’ve not received the nod of God.”  That is, you’ve not been given the go ahead to step forward here.  In trusting God, I wait.

I remember coming home from dinner one night completely frustrated.  It was a good evening.  The conversation was pleasant and full of deep thoughts well balanced with laughter.  This person seemed genuine and he was attractive, but I knew right away that he would only be a friend.  You would have thought me to be crazy if you could see the way I walked around my house that night in conversation with God.  It was fairly early when I walked through my door.  I took my shoes off and carried them to my room.   I then changed my cloths washed my face, and sank to the floor as the talk began.  “God, Is it me? Am I the problem? Am I even capable of loving again?”  I was sitting up against my bathroom wall with my hands in the air, truly asking God to search my heart and show me.  I was fighting every urge in me that wanted to build walls around my heart and become a recluse.  I knew this would be a huge step backward, so I chose to honestly go to that painful, lonely place and face it.  My questions were very direct and sincere and God answered.  He said, “You asked Me to hold your heart until it was right and safe.”  His answer did not make my feelings any less intense at that moment, but His reminder did allow me to take a deep breath and thank Him.

I’m doing my best every morning to view this journey and new life with all it’s new normals as an adventure, and with doing so I am choosing to live.  With living comes dreaming again and hoping again.  It also will bring seasons of disappointments and sorrow, as most of us know.  But won’t these moments of struggle find us even if we choose to close off our heart?  If we hang a sign around our heart that says, “No Trespassing,” there will still be storms that beat against it.  If I’m going to have to get wet when the rain falls I might as well dance in it.

A couple of years ago I had a person whom I have a great respect for ask me a question.  He said, “So Shannan, Are you living?”  Each time I’ve wanted to pull the covers over my heart, I remember this question and I get up.  My answer to him was, “I think about this and believe the answer is yes, the best I know how. What does it mean to “live?” I think we learn to live until the day we die. My “normal” has been redefined, so with each step I am learning to live.  Even in Warren’s death I have learned to live. I now realize just how precious a moment is, how each person I come in contact with, whether for a season or a lifetime, is to be treasured. I’ll tell you what I told my brother earlier today.  There’s joy beyond my tears! I can say with complete confidence that God has given me an amazing peace. The only way to explain it is, it’s God. I know God holds my today and my tomorrows. Therefore, I am okay and I live.”

I still believe my answer to be true but after recently reading John & Stasi Eldredge’s book, “Captivating,there’s been a deeper understanding added to which my heart cries out, “Yes!”

“God does not always rescue us out of a painful season… Knowing the parting was soon to come did not diminish the beauty nor our delight in being together.  No, it heightened it.  It made us more alive to the moment.  More aware.  More present.  And so it is with a heart awakened to it’s sorrow.  It is more aware, more present, and more alive, to all of the facets of life.” ~’Captivating’

That tugging I felt while walking with my friends tonight, seeing the beauty in them and observing the relationships around me, may be the awakening of my heart.  I’ve been asking God to transform me and to give me a passion and dream for whatever it is He as for me.  I want to walk the path that God has ordained for me, Shannan, since the beginning of time.

There I was walking along a beautiful seashore in Cannes, France, feeling truly open to the possibility of love again.  Yet I wondered, “God, how can this be? Am I just wishing and hoping like a little girls fairy tale?  But He whispers His reassurance that it’s Him stirring my heart for something; no, someone.  “Do I know this person already?”  That question He will not answer.  All I know is, I’m open to loving at a new depth, a deeper love than I’ve ever experienced before. Don’t get me wrong when I say this.  Warren would understand completely and be happy for my growth.  I believe it goes back to the prayer of transformation.  How could I experience this love without God transforming my heart?  If I am the same person I was four years ago, then four years has been wasted.  “But the experience of sorrow in no way diminishes the joy of living.  Rather, it enhances it.” ~’Captivating’  Praise God the sorrow causes me to love deeper today.

Walking through the valley of the shadow of death and coming through the other side should change me.  Isaiah 61 is coming alive!  God is the restorer of every aspect of my life, both here and for eternity.  I see through different eyes.  People are more valuable.  Time is ever so precious.  Food tastes fresh and distinct.  The world is small but endless to explore.  I’m learning it’s okay to be me, but the biggest part of the adventure is discovering who me is, who God is, and who God is molding me to be.  This is a never ending process.  We will never be able to say, “I have arrived,” until we are physically sitting at the feet of Jesus.  Until then He continues to melt us so He can mold us to reflect His image through us.

I’m not sure what all this means yet, but I am aware it’s not an invitation for me to rush out and try to make something happenCertainly not! It’s simply God awakening my heart.  He still holds it.  My only job is to continue to seek Him.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33).  This must be my focus.  I’ll let God handle the details of my life.  I will continue to thank Him as He restores the broken pieces of my heart.

God, help me never fall for a counterfeit.  Keep my heart so buried in You that he will have to seek You to find me. Until then and even after, You are my first love.  Thank You for guiding my every step!

Shannan Parker
September 22, 2009