Paralyzed in Fear or Reenergized in Faith- A Reminder and Charge to Followers of Jesus

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In light of the news coming out of Texas yesterday and this morning, I wrote these words to my sisters at Centerpoint Sisterhood but I feel they are relevant and appropriate to all followers of Jesus. As a community of believers, we all need to be reminder of God’s promises and His Sovereignty. If you are a follower of Christ, I hope these words will be encouraging to you too. And please know I pray for you! I pray the words I write would be helpful, uplifting, and encouraging in your lives and in your journey of faith and that they find their way to those who could use them. If you have questions of faith, my message box is always open. God Bless you and yours! 

Dear Sister,
It seems as if every day there is a new story. A heartbreaking, devastating story of senseless evil and violence, but I encourage you to take heart! He has overcome the world! Jesus knew these things would take place and He gave us His words in John 16:33. Words for times like these. When things make no sense in logical ways, when it seems easier to place the blame on policies and illnesses and motives, when the darkness seems to have won, remember He has already won! He has overcome and He reigns! He is sovereign over all things.

In these times, look for the good. Look for God’s grace and His glory. Do not be paralyzed in fear but reenergized in faith. The enemy wants us stopped cold in our tracks, he wants people to be fearful to walk into churches, scared to gather in Jesus’s name. But we will not be stopped!

We will continue to gather, continue to serve, and continue to praise and lift high the name of Jesus!! And we will be women of prayer! We will pray, pray, and pray!!! Pray for the victims families, pray for those who are suffering, pray for all those who are lost, pray for our community, pray for the world, pray for peace, and for God’s strength to continue to do the work he has started in us for His glory.

I am praying for you today. Praying that the Lord would give you spiritual sight to see the truth and see the spiritual battle at hand. I’m praying you would put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. I’m praying that the Lord’s would give you courage and strength so you can step forward in faith. I’m praying you would find time to dedicate to prayer and time to rejoice in the fact that our God is not in the bit surprised by any of this and that He is sovereign over all things. I am praying for you, for peace and comfort and that you will shine brightly for the Lord in a darkened world. Go! Serve and love others in Jesus’s name!

With love , your sister, Shanna xo

“Shanna, Shanna”

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Our days are filled with urgent and important things vying for our attention. Within the day’s whirlwind of busyness, it’s easy to focus on the urgent and lose sight of the important. It can be a struggle to favor crossing items off our to-do lists to spending unscheduled amounts of quality time with people. It can be difficult, feel uncomfortable, and might seem plain impossible to stop and rest. We have become tightly scheduled and overbooked. White spaces on our calendars are a rare find.
 
And I can be the worst culprit. If I am not intentional, my pace of life can be all consuming and exhausting. I can easily fall into the race of rushing from task to task, place to place, activity to activity. Instead, I want my life to be one of making time for others, resting in my surroundings, finding beauty in the quietest places, and tuning out the voices of the world to focus on hearing His voice. I want my legacy to include, “She made time for others and she loved well.”
 
It’s true, tasks, meetings, errands and chores need to get done but not at the expense of the quiet, more meaningful, and important things in life. There needs to be a balance.
 
This is a real, age-old struggle. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus enters the home of a woman named Martha. “Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
 
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
 
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
 
Just replace, “Martha, Martha” with your name and read it again- “Shanna, Shanna, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”
 
It grabs your attention, doesn’t it? If that one thing Mary was doing was stopping, listening, and resting at the feet of Jesus, I think following her example would be the best thing we can do today. I want to challenge you to take a few minutes to reevaluate today’s activities and give more attention and focus to the quiet, important things in your life. Relationships, people, listening, cheerfully helping, joyfully serving, answering with kindness- those types of things. I think we will find the urgent things are not as urgent as we thought they would be and the important things are more important and needed than what we thought. Have a great day! ❤

The Germiest and Messiest Places

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There we were in one of the germiest, grimiest places to be-a public restroom. The three of us, heads huddled together, looked down into the bowl of the toilet. I could see it. In my attempts to protect my children from the germy seat with layers of toilet paper, my favorite earring had slipped from my ear and splashed into the “pool of germs.”  Fortunately, it had not gone down into the abyss but instead lay sparkling, mocking me from the depths of the “clear” water.

Ummm…. now what? Should I stick my hand in the water and get it? NO!! No, I could not bring myself to do it. Maybe I could fish it out with something but then I realized my purse was outside with a friend. Deciding I really needed to have my purse, if not for some gadget at least for some comfort, I sent my oldest daughter to get it for me.

As I waited, I opened the door of the stall. I felt a little loss, needed some sympathy, and possibly some help from my fellow bathroom compadres. And on a more practical level, I wanted to make sure no one  flushed the toilet. Then all hope would be gone.

I tried to make eye contact with the women who came through the door. I stated my plight loudly enough for most to hear. Some women ignored me but many women curiously andwith empathetically peeked into the bowl, shaking their heads as they left, and agreeing it was a bad situation.

And then there was Linda. Oh, Linda!

Linda was different. She heard my appeal for help. She listened to my situation and decided to do something about it.  Without giving it much thought, Linda rolled up her sleeve and heroically reached deep into the toilet waters retrieving my earring. She carried it over to the sink and scrubbed her hands and scrubbed my earring. Then she carefully dried my earring and handed it to me with care and the instructions to CAREFULLY and THOROUGHLY sanitize my earring before I wore it again. (That will NOT be a problem, Linda! I promise!) I thanked her over and over again but she just smiled and said it was really no big deal. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal to Linda BUT it was big deal to me!

You know, I cannot help but think of what it would be like if we were all a little more like Linda. I am not saying we need to stick our bare hands into germy public toilet bowls. (Although, carrying plastic dish gloves in our purses may come in handy one day.)  What I am saying is this, what if we went along our schedules and agendas with the readiness to be interrupted? What if we tuned our hearing and focused our sight on the cries for help from people around us? What would it look like to join people in their messiness?

There are a lot of people who are stuck in messy and unhealthy situations. We often worry we don’t have what it takes to help and so we ignore or walk on by. While we cannot pull people out of their situations or fix things for them, we can come around them and let them know they are not alone.  We can care for them by providing a listening ear, a smiling face, a hand on the shoulder. We can join them in their messiness by not judging them and “wash” them over with prayer, friendship and love. And then we can “wrap” them in a big hug.

Most of all, we can help people find resources, hope and the One who defeated death. After death has been defeated, is there anything Jesus can’t do? Remember, Jesus met people in the messiest places, surrounded by the germiest people and He was their hope and new life. When we come before Him with our messes or better yet, when we come before Him together with our messes, we can expect that Jesus has the power to save, to rescue, and make ways for people when there seems to be no other ways possible.

For those of us who are followers of Jesus, we are called to walk in His ways and with His Spirit upon us we are called to preach the good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of the slight to the blind, and set those who are oppressed free. (Luke 4:18-19) Most of all we are called to have faith and LOVE! (1 John 3:23-24) I think love starts with listening and looking for those in need.

So Linda, wherever you are, THANK YOU AGAIN! Thank you so much for your kindness.

And thank you Jesus, for allowing me these unusual, uncomfortable, and hilarious situations I often find myself in. What I learn from these “opportunities,” I hope will always be for your glory and your Kingdom work. ❤

PS Please note that this picture is a reenactment in a thoroughly cleaned and sanitized toilet. I wish I had snapped a picture during the unfortuante event but it was the last thing on my mind. LOL

Seek and Believe-A Study of the Gospel of Luke-Scripture Plan

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You will watch a generation of Christians-of Christians-set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible . This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon what whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE?

– Beth Moore

If we are going to be a generation of Jesus followers who follow Jesus well. A generation who keeps His commandments, live like Him, love like Him, then we are going to have to think like Him and KNOW Him well. We can sit under good teaching, read books by good and faithful people, and we can discuss things of faith with others BUT when it comes down to it, each of us, as individuals need to know how to distinguish between truth and lies (with discernment given by the Holy Spirit.)

The only way to get to know someone well is to spend time with them. To get to know Jesus, we need to go right to God’s word. Spend time in prayer and read scripture. Jesus wants us to seek Him, ask questions, believe in His words, rest at His feet, and experience His love as we learn to walk faithfully with Him.

Over the next months, our Sisterhood will be studying through a series on the gospel of Luke. We are going to focus on getting to know Jesus well- what he did, what he said, who he said it to, who he associated. My prayer is through our prayers and scripture readings, God would work on our hearts, help us become more like Jesus, and know both TRUTH and LOVE so that we can become faithful disciples and more willing servants of Him.

Below is a scripture reading plan for the Gospel of Luke. There are five scripture passages for each week. Grab your Bible, grab a journal, maybe a cup of coffee. I have developed a tool, using Luke as an acronym, to help in our study of the scriptures. As you pray and read through each of the scriptures, I hope you find what God has for you to discover.

Please join us (virtually) and in person at our Sisterhood gatherings on this journey to seek and believe in Jesus, Son of Man. I will be praying for you!

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L- Look towards God in prayer ( Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9)  Don’t go to  the scriptures looking for your idea, go searching for his.

U Read prayerfully and carefully to understand  Proverbs 2:1-3, “Call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding. and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of  the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

KKeep and store commands within your heart– Proverbs 2:10-11,” For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant for your soul. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.” Deuteronomy 11:18

EExplore– What does this mean to me and my relationship to Jesus? How does it apply to my life? Where can this passage lead to me to deeper and new places with Jesus? (James 1:22, Ephesians 5:1-2)

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Click link below to download plan….

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Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 16-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-25 Craft Ideas

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The most wonderful time of the year is here. A time of anticipation, expectant waiting, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. One of my family’s favorite ways to be reminded of the treasures and gifts of this season is reading along with Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. 

Last year, my girls and I crafted an ornament each day to correspond with the daily advent readings from the book. This post is the last in a series of ornament/craft ideas which I have created and collected. You can find the complete collection for Day 1-2Day 3-4-5-6Days 7-10, and Days 11-15 by clicking on the blue links.

There many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas, borrowed ideas, and ideas inspired by talented artists and bloggers. Credit for any borrowed idea is noted below the picture. If you decide to make and share one of my craft ideas, I would to love to see it. Tag me on Instagram or send me a link to your blog post.

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Materials: card stock, markers, scissors, glue (hot glue), clothespin

I loved this craft idea from His Wondrous Work and thought “Why not turn it into an ornament?” I printed the templates on two pieces of colored card stock (one piece skin- tone and the other gray) and then carefully cut them out. The whale needs to be sticking out beyond the clothespin so Jonah can pop out without getting stuck. Make sure you line up the whale and Jonah on the clothespin before gluing the pieces down. I had to move the whale further up the clothespin in order to make the pieces fit properly.

http://www.hiswondrousworks.com/JONAH%20and%20the%20GREAT%20FISH%20Craft.pdf

day17advent

Materials: can, black card stock, twine for wrapping around the can, sand, paper-piercing tool , glue

Wash and dry a small can (I used an Old El Paso Chilies can.) Wrap and glue twine around the outside. Create a cityscape with black card stock. It took me several trials to get the right size city to fit into the can. Once I had the correct size, I used a paper-piercing tool to created the windows and doors. Using sand and glue,  I made desert at the bottom of the can. Then, I folded the bottom of the city so it would stand upright and glued the city to the sand.

For added effect, hang the ornament near a small tree light to add background light.

cityscape-ornament

day18advent

Materials: pipe cleaners, gems, hot glue

To make the crown, I followed the directions listed at the link below. After the crown had its basic shape, we “blinged-out” our crowns with faux pearls and gems.

http://littleinspiration.com/2014/01/diy-photo-prop-crown.html

day19advent

Materials:  toilet paper roll, silver paint, sharpie marker, gray card stock, Stampin’ Up Dimensionals.

Paint the toilet paper roll silver. While waiting for the paint to dry, cut out the top of watchtower from gray card stock paper. Once dry, draw bricks and a door on the tower with a Sharpie or black paint pen. Put Dimensionals around the top and wrap the tower paper over the Dimensionals and around to a close. This will give the paper a small lift and make the shapes have more depth. Hole punch and string to hang.

day20advent

Materials: Chalkboard paper, silver glitter gel pens or paint markers.

At back-to-school time, I had bought a chalkboard banner from Target’s dollar spot. For this ornament, I cut apart the banner and used one of the circles to write on and decorate. Super easy and cute.

Here are other craft ideas for Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story.

http://biblecraftsandactivities.com/crafts-for-zechariah-and-elizabeth/

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Materials: sandal template printed on colored card stock (see link below); something to lace with (twine, small ribbon); hole punch.

For today’s reading and craft. I decided to focus on “Prepare the Way” rather than “Thunder in the Desert.” This adorable sandal craft template has easy directions to follow which are found at the link website below. The sandal is a bit large (it might fit a toddler) for what you might think of as a traditional sized ornament but in our house the bigger the better. 🙂 It is really cute and great for lacing and shoe tying practice.

http://www.jesus-without-language.net/john-the-baptist-matthew-3-make/

day22advent

Materials:  1 rounded clothespin, 3 regular size popsicle sticks, 2 half-popsicle sticks,  half of a pipe cleaner for halo, 1 white feather for wings, paint, glitter

Paint the top of the rounded clothespin as a head with hair. (I made the angel one-sided so the side not seen does not have to be painted perfect.) Paint the bottom half of the clothespin white. Paint all the popsicle sticks white and sprinkle glitter over them while the paint is wet. Once the paint is dry, hot glue the two longer popsicle sticks on the back of the rounded clothespin. Glue them close together but slightly angled away from each other. Glue the third popsicle stick on top of the other two, directly in the middle. Glue one “wing” (half-sized popsicle stick) on at a time. Then take the feather and hot glue into place over both of the wings. Make a small ring for a halo. Glue in place.

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day23advent

Materials:  card stock (glittery silver, gray for the saw; brown or wood colored for handle); handsaw template (see link below), scissors and glue

I saved the image of the saw pattern found from the website below and made it smaller in a word document. I made it so two templates could fit on my page. Then I traced each part of the saw, glued it together, and punched a hole for the string. The hardest part of this craft was tracing and cutting out the teeth on the saw blade.

http://patternuniverse.com/download/saw-pattern/

day24advent

Materials: white card stock, paper punches (circle and ovals), straw or raffia, brown paint

Cut the card stock into a circle. Paint hand with brown washable paint and stamp off toward the side of the circle. Add “hay” and make baby Jesus with the punched shapes. Add a cute, little face. 🙂

day25advent

Materials:  glittery gold scrapbook paper, fabric scrap

It’s Christmas! In consideration of Christmas day and all that comes with it, today’s craft is a very simple one. Cut a star out of the gold scrapbook paper and a red cross out of the fabric. Glue the cross on the star and hole punch.

Where Is the Love?

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Where is the love? Where is the grace?

Two years ago, I helped manage a book signing line for a well-known and very popular Christian author at a leadership conference. This author had collected a large following of “fangirls” who started lining up for her meet and greet about two hours in advance of her arrival time.

As the author walked to her meet and greet spot and picked up her Sharpie markers, women went C-R-A-Z-Y. The best way I can describe the scene was something similar to the Beatles arriving in the 60s or a scene from a 1990s New Kids on the Block concert. There was pushing and shoving and squealing. There may have been crying and fainting (okay, maybe not fainting, but you get the point….)

As the line moved, I tried to keep up with the book purchases but I was mesmerized by the women and their praises, compliments, and stories of how their lives were changed by the author and reading her books. You might have thought Jesus Christ himself was standing there. (And when we get to heaven we better have way MORE enthusiasm, praises, and compliments of how our lives were changed because of OUR Lord Jesus…just saying.)

With every woman, the author was gracious and welcoming and smiley…very smiley. I wondered if her cheeks hurt from all the smiling and I wondered what was going through her mind as she listened and listened. Was she tired? Did you she need a Starbucks? Did she want to go back to her hotel room and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls? Did she think this was a lot to do about nothing? Did she hope these women could see her as a just another woman trying to walk out her faith and live her life?

When the time came for this beloved author to leave, women still stood filed in line with anxious faces and praying for a miracle to meet their word-wielding hero. Women had to be turned away. Sad, disappointed women reluctantly left the line sulky and teary-eyed with their unsigned books clutched in their hand. I packed up the unpurchased books, tried to process all that had happened, all that I witnessed, and all I could think of was “for the love.”

Fast forward to this week, the same author, and her fans. Things are different. Some of the women who have loved, adored and been devoted to this author, are now crucifying her for comments and HER opinions published in recent articles. These women (and some men) are questioning her faith, her integrity, her intentions, and her abilities as a Christian leader.

Let me make sure we get this straight. These women and men are not Muslims, Jews, or atheists they are Christians against other Christians. Comments have been flying through cyber space and landing hotly in notification boxes. Our very own sisters and brothers taken up in arms against each other. If you think the world is not watching, you are wrong. If you think the Devil is not having a hay day, kicking back with a martini, legs stretched out, smiling as he is watching this situation turn into a train-wreck like a bad reality TV show….you are wrong!

While I fully believe there needs to be accountability and responsibility if you are in a place of leadership, and especially if you have been entrusted with a very large sphere of influence, I also believe that there are right and wrong ways to go about disagreeing. I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions. I believe we are all on a journey of faith and it is healthy to wrestle with God and each other over questions of faith. I believe those in leadership should have mentors and advisers to talk things out and pray through tough issues.

Disagreements are going to happen BUT there is a proper place and certain time to work them out. Public arenas with millions of eyes watching and ears listening lead to greater separation and move us further away from the unity God designed for His people. People who are not Christians (or even Christians that have stepped away from their faith) are watching and listening. And some Christians are on holy crusades of righteousness using Pharisaical phrases and speech, throwing darts and fiery opinions out from behind the safety of a computer screen.

All the while, the world is rotting away. People are starving from hunger. Some are thirsty from lack of clean water. There are prisoners of addiction and self-sabotaging ways.  Lost and lonely people have been wandering for far too long. People are without hope and we have a gift to share. If our arguments, our very public arguments are distracting people and drawing attention to ourselves instead of drawing attention to the One, the gospel, the only One who can bring satisfaction, light, life,  freedom, and peace, then shame on us!

I can only imagine what it might feel like to be the author this week. The real live person behind the interviews and articles. A human who claims to love Jesus and others and has shown it through many good works, written words and the thoughts she has shared.  Keep her in your prayers!

Let this is also be a reminder why we must not put each other on pedestals and remember people are just that….people, imperfect people. As God extends His grace to us, we must extend grace to others especially our sisters and brothers. That includes grace in our words, our social media postings, and even in our thoughts. It also means addressing disagreements in a Biblical way.

There is enough chatter and noise in the world. In fact, I am adding more to it by writing this blog post. I would like to encourage you, if you are a follower of Jesus, to be wise to distractions and splits, consider using some self-control with your opinions, and immediately run to Jesus in prayer and read your Bible. In the meantime, I am going to shut my mouth and go put my words into action. Pray, love well and live faithfully!

(If you are still reading….enjoy this video…think about the words… be inspired….and keep praying and living out your faith. )

Kindness ROCKS

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Keep your eyes open and you might find one! Love, peace, joy, or a smile! The kids and I have been inspired to spread kindness in the shape of rocks. Following the example of the following four organizations, I bought five bags of black river rocks (at the dollar store.) We painted hearts, rainbows, crosses, smiley faces, and other things that might make one smile and we have been hiding them all over our town.

Our hope is that each rock is found at the perfect moment and it will bring a smile to the finder’s face. If you do find one, we would love to hear about it! We would love to know what happened to the rocks after we left it somewhere.

Check out these beautiful stories of others who are spreading joy and kindness one rock at a time.

Love Rocks  (A beautiful, courageous story of how one family is overcoming loss and grief with love and joy!)

The Kindness Rocks Project

Word Rocks

The Rainbow Rock Project (A story that tells you are never to young to make a difference!)

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