The Shadows

I’m not much of a poet, but poetry seemed a good way to try to express my feelings for a group of people I call “The Forgotten.” The Forgotten are those whose pain and afflictions were at the top of the news headlines only weeks ago. Their stories captured our attention, their struggle and causes were held in our prayers. Replaced by the viral news of a virus and its impacts, their unseen fight continues and their lives go on. This is my attempt of a reminder to give “old news” our attention and focus some of our prayers toward “the shadows.” We are the warriors in the poem, whose prayers can change our hearts and the world.

THE SHADOWS

From the shadows,

A weary mother wails for her opioid addicted son.

An unemployed father fears for the future of his family.

A grandparent grieves over the suicide of their loved one.

A homeless veteran retreats further back into the void.

A community struggles to rebuild after disaster.

From the shadows,

invisible and forgotten stories    

vanish away likes vapors,

old news replaced by viral headlines

now wisps of causes

that once held the world’s attention.

In the shadows,

life goes on.

Needs still exists.

Violence still destroys.

Death still steals.

Depression still drowns and drags down,

and fear tries to rule.

BUT….

Into the shadows,

Light it breaking through.  

The overlooked are seen.

The forgotten are found.

Into the shadows,

warriors release the cries of their hearts.

The incense of the saints fill the air.

Love calls out,

surrender is heard.

Armies of angels are dispatched.

Trust turns to transformation,

Faith forges ways through.

Into the light,

the weary find rest.

The mourners find comfort.

The afflicted are affirmed.

A Redeemer, Protector, and Friend stands guard over hearts and minds.

In Him is faithfulness.

In Him is victory.

In Him is Light.

In His glorious light,

life is not invisible, but abounds in majestic proportion.

Peace protects beyond understanding.  

Hope strengthens and gives confidence.

Joy consoles and brings forth gladness.

And Love rules over fear forever.


#sundayscripture

When I was twenty years old, I experienced a situation that caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I tried everything in my power to solve the circumstances on my own. I manipulated and controlled things so they would turn out the way I wanted them to be. I was exhausted, hurt, and caught up in disbelief.

Eventually, I found myself at a dead end. Crushed by the weight of anxiety and false control, I was trapped and isolated. I longed for a way out, but didn’t know where the out was.

One day in a moment of desperation, and in need of something concrete, I took a meaningful object connected to the situation and marched out into the woods behind my house. With tears streaming down my cheeks and with as much force as I could gather, I threw the memento as far as I could into the trees as I yelled aloud (to God), “You take it!” The words were few, the implications many. I wanted help. I wanted him to take it-all of it! The whole thing! I couldn’t and didn’t want to deal with the situation on my own any longer!

It was the first cast, and the first crack in the control I had so desperately clung to. Over the next days and weeks, I casted more and more. As I did, God helped me face reality and my fears. I was letting go, and embracing something new. It was hard and hurtful. It was a process, and I knew I would be okay if I kept casting forward.

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Dead ends and desperation can lead to humility. Learning to let go of our will, walking in obedience even when it doesn’t make sense, and accepting consolation and grace, are beginning steps toward overcoming anxiety and taking strength in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Jesus wants us to cast- or throw- our anxieties and concerns on him. But this isn’t a game of catch. We shouldn’t wait for Jesus to throw our anxieties back to us. Nor is casting anxiety like a 50/50 custody arrangement in which we share the responsibility. We should not choose between the concerns we want God to be responsible for, and the ones we want to keep for ourselves.The Bible tell us to cast ALL anxieties on him.

Casting and releasing can be difficult though, and it often picks a fight with our will. Our humanity and lack of patience tempts us with the desire to take back cares back under our control. But Jesus wants to take our anxieties, hold them captive and work through them in his perfect power. In doing so, he restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. (1 Peter 5:10)

Turning to God, turning over our anxieties, and taking hold of his truths are daily disciplines. It is the only way to successfully cast away and not take back our cares. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can humble ourselves and trust that God cares for us and has a good plan for our lives.

In the right and proper time, God will set us high over our anxieties, and he may even give us a view of the larger picture of his plan. A plan that gives us hope and a future, a plan that often is very different than we thought. Until that time, keep casting, waiting, and practicing humility.

Happy Sunday! ❤


Quiet Reflections

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The quieter you become, the more you can hear. –Ram Dass

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the day. The light breeze rippled over the surface of the lake creating a watercolor reflection of the peachy-blue, dusk lit skies. Gentle waves lapped up against the shore in a relaxing rhythm inviting me to slow my breath to its beat.  My family’s silhouettes bobbed up and down in a canoe as they paddled out toward the sunset. Echoes of their laughter bounced back to me with joy. I stood at the water’s edge to take it all in. The scene before me seemed like it was painted just for me. Painted with attention to detail and brushed with peace and love.

The rush to get to camp and the busyness of the day melted off every tense and tired muscle leaving puddles of unwanted, unnecessary stress on the shore. I felt lighter, freer. Peace quieted my mind and made space in my heart to hear. To hear is so much more difficult to do than to listen. At home, I listen to the noise of the world and responsibilities at high volume. But here, at camp, God had cleared my schedule and removed distractions. He quieted the noise and had my full attention. I was ready to receive and hear. And here are a few things I heard…

“Be still, know I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“Let me teach you and give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-29

“You are mine.”  1 John 3:1, 1 Peter 2:9

“I made you in my image, wonderfully and fearfully made, with a purpose.”  Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10

“I delight in you.” Zephaniah 3:17

“I have great things planned for you and your family. “ Jeremiah 29:11

“Let me go first. You are not alone.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Rest in the confidence of my faithfulness.”  Psalm 91:4

“Enjoy life and all I have given you.” John 10:10

And, “I love you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9, Jeremiah 31:3

God wants to paint a scene of peace and love just for you too. It might not be a lakeside sunset, but He KNOWS how best to get our individual attention with a pursuit of love, grace and mercy. God wants to help quiet our noisy hearts to embrace a quiet one, to move from half listening to wholeheartedly hearing.  So, be ready to be caught off guard (in a good way) and be ready to receive what He wants to you to hear.


A New Look (and if you are new here, Hello!)

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“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those words were printed on a tiny, magazine clipping handed to me by a mentoring teacher. It was right after a devastating student teaching observation in which a professor had told me that I was “too enthusiastic” and I needed to “tone it down” while teaching. His words cut to my core, my very being, because by nature (and by God’s design) I am a very enthusiastic person. I have always tried to embrace learning and life with joy. After school that day, I sat in the classroom with my mentoring teacher. She took the time to listen to my every sobby, tear-drenched word. She reassured me there was no such thing as too much enthusiasm in teaching or life. Her words, compassion, and encouragement helped heal a wound and gave me the confidence I needed to continue in teaching and also to fully embrace who I am. The quote has become one of the songs for my life. Many times over the years, I have held the now-faded and battered clipping in my hand, remembering the kindness shown to me and how the smallest amounts of kindness, joy, enthusiasm, and encouragement can do great things in the world.

EMBRACE ENTHUSIASM is a blog focused on faith, learning, and purposeful living. It’s written by me, Shanna Crowell. I live in New England with my pastor husband and our three children. I am a former public school teacher and now use my education when speaking to groups, in church ministry, and in homeschooling my children. My heart’s desire is to serve and encourage women, help people find their identity in Christ, and help equip people to use their God-given gifts and talents to live life with greater purpose and enthusiasm.

Over the next few weeks, I will be working on updating, reorganizing, and creating some new things on the blog and on my Facebook page. I hope you will be encouraged by what you read and see here, join in the conversations, and be inspired to try something new.

Many blessings for a great day!

Peace and Love,

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