Kindly Remove Your Boot From My Chest!

I have a mound of things that needs tending to at home, but I had to get out of the house today.  I’m sitting in the local coffee shop, with a Grande’, non-fat, extra hot, no foam latte’, with caramel drizzle in hand.  I have a book in front of me that I really should be reading, but my mind will not allow me to focus.  So, I am people watching.  I have to giggle.  We try so hard to create an image of what we think God looks like.  But, from the many different varieties that are coming in and out of this establishment, I’m again reminded that we cannot contain God in the box of our limited minds.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” -Gen. 1:26a, 27

No Human Pictures For The Sake Of Argument ;o)

Today is January 1 ‘2011.  Last year on this day I was full of hope.  I knew, that I knew, that I knew, what I was to do for the year.  I clearly heard God set a list of goals for me.  2010 was packed full of things I had to complete.  I had a few task that had been left undone far too long.  I also got to experience many things for the first time.  Things like, going to a friends 40th birthday party and getting up to dance, because it no longer mattered to me if I could or not; I just wanted to live.  So why is my heart heavy?  The year also claimed the reality of further disappointments.  I was able to dance that night, because the one I stood next to cared for me, just for who I am – or so I thought.

I never knew it was possible to be so full of joy and so completely weighted down by sorrow all at the same time.  In one moment I can be overtaken with excitement for friends as they welcome a new addition into their family, and the next moment my heart can sincerely cry as I hold the hand of another friend while they say their final goodbyes and death robs us of them.

The last three months have carried the majority of breathless moments.  I have faced more loss.  Some of these losses have been sudden with no explanation and some are still in process.

Let me make this statement before I continue on.  Shaken faith is not a lack of faith. If we run to God with the “I don’t understand” question, it is not an act of unbelief.  The very fact that we run to Him with anything shows a level of confidence in Him.  Matthew 17:20 says, if we have faith as a mustard seed we can move mountains.  I believe God can and I believe He will keep His promises.  I’m just wrestling with His timing.  I know that God is near and I know that He has great plans for my life.

I have been extremely patient, but after many conversations with my dance partner, each ending with a new verbal dance, I came to the close of this day emotionally drained.  Truthfully, I am physically and emotionally exhausted.

With tears streaming down my face, I walked in the house and sat down with Coady in his dog bed.  I cannot tell you how long it was, but I sat there for quite a while praying with my tears.  Every fiber of my being searched God and asked, “What now?”  “I don’t know what I am supposed to do.”  I verbally called to Him with a heart questioning, “God?”   I waited and called again, “God?”  I decided that I was going to cry until I physically could not cry any longer.   I feel like God has sliced open my heart and is digging all around.  But, He is God.  He knows best, and He owes me nothing.  I just keeping crying and praying my way through.  The season will have to change eventually….

I feel like I have been pinned to the floor, as someone with heavy work-boots on is standing on my chest – just allowing enough air to pass to get a shallow breath.  It’s just enough to keep me alive.  Am I battling depression?  No.  I’m sad.  Sadness is the antidote to depression.  I am giving myself the gift of being very real with my present emotions.  I also decided to trust in my knowing rather than my feelings.  God is with me and working out the things that I cannot see.  I must remember the things I’ve asked of Him and let God do what He wants to do.  I asked Him to protect me from all harm, from anything that would cause me to miss His perfect path for my life; including guarding me from my own emotions.  He knows best.

Have you ever thought back to something you begged God for, only to thank Him later for saying no?  Often times, my thanks for His guidance only comes after the emotions of the circumstance has long passed.  Recalling His past interventions to mind does help me and reminds me that God sees and hears my hearts’ cry.  To be completely honest about how I feel in this current moment, I am facing fear because I cannot see any hope ahead.  I am sad, frustrated, and tired from a long season of battle.  I must think on and remember what God has done, so I can grab hold of what He will do.

God said He would never leave me alone, and He never has.  God never changes who He is, so I know He never will.  God promises that He will make a way in the wilderness; a way where there seems to be no way.  So, despite feeling hopeless, I do have hope.  I am choosing to thank Him now for victory over this valley, even before I can see the base of the mountain ahead.

It still puzzles me, that the only song I wanted to sing while traveling my last year on tour with the Parker Trio was, “I’ll Just Stand.”  I have a strange comfort by this.  I know God was preparing me then for this present season, which lets me know that He is here and is leading me now.

I’ll Just Stand, by The Parker Trio, Tearin’ Down The Walls, 2005

“When I don’t know which way to go, I’ll Stand,

‘Cause I don’t want to make the same mistakes again,

When I come to the water and it’s too wide,

When I come to the mountain too high to climb,

I’ll wait till You give the command,

Having done all I can do, I’ll just stand.”


I’m sure God wont mind if I just sit for a moment – even if it’s with Coady in his dog bed.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

I will dance with joy again!

Bon Appetit!

Everything has been so deep lately.  The holiday season was full of heavyhearted issues, as so many people seem to be facing extremely difficult situations.  My heart has cried out to God for Him to rescue both myself and others, but I do not want to forget that there is still laughter in the midst of chaos.  So, today I will tell you a funny story from my traveling days on the road.  Painful moments are a reality in the world we live in, but so are the moments that make us say with laughter, “WOW!”

Getting Curious?

If memory serves me correct, this took place the beginning of August 2005, just before hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.  We, The Parker Trio, were on a short tour down through Louisiana and Alabama.  We met some amazing people while traveling through these areas who continued to be a wonderful support to P3, even after they lost businesses and homes when Katrina came through.

The story I want to share with you happened one evening at a tiny country church in Alabama.  The church had a center aisle that divided the congregation in two.  As the people filtered in for the evening festivities, they took their seats on either side of the sanctuary.  We came out and sang our first few songs, then Warren introduced each group member as he usually would.  Just before he was to play his first instrumental piece, he attempted to connect with the audience by asking a lighthearted question.  He notice that everyone on the right side of the church was sitting as far to the right as possible, and everybody on the left side was sitting as far to the left as possible – leaving an empty gap in the middle.  So Warren asked, “Tell me something, does everyone over here not like the folks over there?”  Warren pointed, acknowledging the divide in the center of the church and said, “I’m curious too, if there might be a feud going on?”  The majority of the people laughed, but then one young girl on the front row stood up to make her thoughts very clear.  She said, “I like everyone here except that person right back there” as she pointed to the back opposite corner from where she was sitting.

I heard Angie begin to giggle and say in her native Newfoundland accent, “Oh My!”  Angie’s giggle is always contagious, so I had a hard time keeping a straight face.  Warren’s statement of, “Well Ok!” led me to motion to Brandt to start the intro to Warren’s instrumental piece and I began to introduce him as he started to play.  Whew!  That was a close call to a potential train-wreck.  Oh, but the night has only just begun!

The typical concert would start out very upbeat, then move on to some lighthearted humor, so we could get to know the audience and they could, in-turn, get to know a bit about us.  As the evening moved forward, we would begin to share a testimony or two and our hearts’ desire for why we chose to travel in full-time ministry.  On this night, I had given a fairly detailed description of the crucifixion and sang the song, ‘Thank God For Calvary.”  Out of the song we began to present people with the opportunity to accept Jesus as their saviour.  At this very serious moment, we looked down to witness the same young girl raise her foot to her mouth and begin chewing her toenails off.  Yes, Yes!  You read that right!  One by precious one, she filed her toes with her teeth!  When she was finished with the first foot, she then proceeded to lift the other to her lips.

Do you remember Angie’s contagious giggle?  Well, now it was a full-blown laugh.  Try to picture this.  I was center stage, Warren was to my left, and Angie to my right.  Warren was at his piano playing some soft background music as I spoke tenderly about what our Saviour went through on our behalf.  All at once, Angie raises her hand over her mouth as she turns her back to the crowd, trying to conceal her laughter.  I’m sure my eyes become wide with amazement, as I tried to hide the fact that I was witnessing one of the craziest things I had ever seen.  I looked to Warren to see his head bowed with his eyes now fixed on his piano, but his body bounced as he laughed.  It was all I could do to contain a full-out belly laugh.  So what did I do?  I did what any great minister/entertainer would do at a moment like this.  Our eyes were about to stream with tears, so I quickly had everyone close their eyes for prayer while the very real quiver in my voice allowed them to think the Spirit was moving strong in that place.

After the service, we found out that this girl was 18 years old.  Her mother came to us and introduced her in these words, “This is my daughter, (her name was given) – she has a few chromosomes missing.”  Yes she did!!!  I promise you, these were her exact words.  And, she said it with a smile!  I did not laugh at this moment, but we all had a great time when we got back on the bus and reminisced over the evenings events.

There was a pot-luck meal to top off the night.  We just loved these.  Usually we found someones hair in one of the dishes, but this night we had to wonder what the special ingredient would be….LOL!

Bon Appetit!

I only wish I had pictures from that night to share.

Hope You Enjoyed!

~Shannan

Just ONE BREATH Away From Goodnight

I just found out yet another precious one from the Gospel Music Industry has gone home way too young.  Susan Unthank, founder and Editor-In-Chief of AbsolutelyGospel.com, passed away this morning, January 5, 2011.  You can read more about Susan by clicking on this link, (Susan Unthank, 1955 – 2011)

Fly Away Home!

I hear people say so often, “I’m young.  I have my whole life ahead of me.”  Really?  No one is promised tomorrow.

“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” – James 4:14


They Are Home:

Words and music by Warren Parker, Parker Publishing / SOCAN, BMI

1st Verse:

In my lifetime I’ve had loved ones, laid to rest too soon

Young and old, it doesn’t matter, cause no one is immune

For life is just a season and it will surely pass away

But those who are God’s children

They will meet again someday

Chorus:

For they are home, sitting at the feet of Jesus

No more sickness, pain or death, will ever be known

And one day soon, we will join our hands together

As we’re gathered singing praises ’round the throne

And we’ll walk the street of gold

With our loved ones we’ll behold

The glory of the Lord forevermore

But for now, tears of joy come streaming down

Cause I know, they are home

2nd Verse:

Now it only seems like yesterday since we laughed and shed some tears

And I still awake some mornings crying, for I know that you’re not here

Oh but Lord You have reminded me, this is not goodbye, just goodnight

And now I know that glorious morning’s coming

When again we will unite

…..cause I know, THEY ARE HOME.


We’re all just one breath away from our eternal home.  If this were your last day on this earth, what would you do differently?  Who would you spend more time with, instead of working the extra hours?  Who would you share the most sincere parts of your heart with?  Would you choose to love one deeper, instead of always keeping them at a safe distance?  Is there anyone, that if they were taken from your life today, that you’d sorrow over for words left unspoken?  If so, choose to change what would cause regret before you taste its grievous sting.

Please say a prayer of comfort for the Unthank family.  These precious people were a tremendous support to me when my husband, Warren Parker, was tragically killed in January 2006.  May the Lord bless them double for the kindness they’ve extended toward me.

~Shannan

In The Darkness Our Ears Are Tuned

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice.” ~Phil. 4:4

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.thefloweringgarden.com/pics/lunaria-annua.jpg

I Had To Be Buried and Die Before I Could Live

 

Are you battling with depression?  I certainly have in the past.  For me it was a time of deep dark silence.  I could not hear God, nor feel any ounce of His existence.  I could be standing in a building filled with 10,000 people and still feel completely alone.  As a matter of fact, I did so many times.  My loneliness came when I was traveling in full-time music ministry.  I remember standing on a platform to sing and share “words of hope” with the crowd before me, yet such a darkness hung over my head that I was literally unable to see the faces of the people.  I was standing at my microphone on a Sunday morning, in the beautiful state of Maine, with a haze so thick over my heart and mind that it physically caused my eyes to blur.

I was starting to get angry because I had no reason to be feeling the way I was.  God was blessing our ministry.  We were seeing so many people surrender their lives to Jesus.  They were finding hope and joy, yet I had none; at least I didn’t have the feelings of the two.  I could not pinpoint the source of my pain and this made my sadness increase all the more.  That day I told Warren I was done.  I could not continue to stand on a stage and speak if God was done talking to me.  I relied on Him to give me the words to share because He knew the state of the hearts before me.  If He was done talking to me, I was no longer going to be a part of ‘The Parker Trio.’

I continued to read my Bible though I heard and felt nothing.  I continued to plead with God to speak to me.  I so desperately wanted to hear from Him, even if He was to chastise me for something.  Often my prayers were little more than, “Please!!!!!”  The “please” was my heart crying out, asking for anything at all.  I searched my heart and tried to find a reason for His quietness but could not come to a conclusion.  I cannot tell you how many months of this gloom passed by.  All I know, is I wrestled internally and was exhausted.

Another morning came, and again I picked my Bible up with little hope of anything changing, but today was a teeny-weeny bit different.  The feeling of God’s presence came so slightly that I had to stop and lean into my Bible to listen.  I closed my eyes and held my breath to tune my ears to hear. That’s all I got that day, just a subtle nudge from the Holy Spirit to what I knew deep, deep, DEEP within; He is God, He is good, and He never truly left me.

 

http://www.eskimo.com/~nanook/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/Magnetosphere.jpg

Hear The Beauty In The Darkness

 

To this day, I cannot tell you why I had to walk through that quiet season, but I can tell you that I’m thankful for it.  I learned through that storm that my relationship with God is based on much more than emotion.  As I wrestled to pray and read, God was still filling me with His words of truth – even when it all felt empty and useless.

If you are in a place of struggle and fighting for hope, keep fighting.  Like me, you may not get that “AHA!” moment of revelation where the world is suddenly bright again, but it will return little by little if you keep searching God’s word and calling to Him for help, (Psalm 121:1-3).

In Jesus name and Strength, we do not have to be tossed by the storms of life.  We do not have to be shaken or moved by the anxieties of this world.  Troubles do not have to dictate our day.  Let’s remember what God tells us; We are more than conquers.  We are seated with Christ in heavenly places, and no weapon formed against us will prosper, (Rom. 8:37, Eph. 2:6-7, Isa. 54:17).

“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~Phil. 4:7

If I am a victim, I am only so of my own willingness to accept the lie. ~Shannan Parker, Oct. 10 ‘2010