Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is Jesus your friend?

Another excerpt from Completely His...

"Many people could claim to know me because they've read some very intimate details of my life in books I've written. But to know me through a book can't compare with how my friend knows me so personally and intimately.

Suddenly I sensed God saying, Uh-huh! That's exactly how I feel, Shannon. Lots of people know many things about Me because they've read My Book, but they have yet to experience the joy of being in an intimate relationship with Me.

Think about it. Would you enter a room where your closest friend was waiting, sit down near her, pick up a book about her life and read a chapter or two, then stand up and leave without personally interacting with her? Of course not. So why are we tempted to do that with God?"

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dying to Self

Shannon Ethridge has written yet another book that speaks right to me. She makes me feel so exposed! But I guess that's a good thing. Here's some food for thought...

"No matter what we have done, God is determined to reveal the fault lines running deep within our character so that we will allow Him to strengthen those faults and restore our relationship with Him. Our fault lines are the most vulnerable points that Satan will continue to target. He uses our favorite flavors of sin to attract us into taking a detour off the path of righteousness and to distract us from living the life we truly desire to live."

Jesus says in Mark 8:34-45 "If any of you wants to be my must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life."

"Do you want to live as the spotless bride of Christ? If so, consider the main thing that Jesus said is required - putting aside our selfish ambition and following Him. What might this look like? Whenever we are tempted to do anything that would pose a threat to our righteousness and bring disappointment to our Bridegroom's heart, we do whatever it takes to resist the temptation and remain pure."

"Remember how I willingly died for you, (insert your name here). Now willingly obey Me and die to yourself. Don't go play in the mud. Remain pure and white for me."

I'm trying, Lord. I'm trying.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Free Will

I think I'm getting a taste of what's to come in my world of parenting... I'm in a position to offer some godly advice and wisdom to a young lady about dating and marriage. I know what God's Word has to say on the subject. And I've learned from my own experiences. But when it comes to giving advice, I am well aware that she has the free will to take it or leave it. I can't force her to make wise choices. I just hope she has come to trust me enough to follow my advice even if she doesn't completely understand it now. I love her and only desire the best for her life. So what if she doesn't take it? What if she gets hurt? Will I say "I told you so"? No. I know what it's like to make mistakes. I would hurt along with her. And I would hope that the next time she would make a better choice. But watching someone exercise their free will and make poor choices is very hard sometimes.

So I wonder how God feels to be in that position. He has written us an entire book of advice and wisdom on how to conduct our lives. Jesus has lived as a human and knows what it means to suffer and be tempted. He loves us and only wants the best for our lives. But we are able to exercise our free will. We can choose to follow his path or leave it. Do we trust Him enough to follow His counsel even when we don't understand it? And what happens when we make a poor decision? Some people may think that God is a judge and is quick to condemn and say "I told you so". But if he loves me even more than I love my children, then I know he would hurt when I hurt. And he would pick me up off my feet and encourage me to do better the next time.

My prayer is that this would be true in my life and in yours...

"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free."
-Psalm 119:30-32

Monday, May 25, 2009

Swing Your Partner

Looking for something different and FUN to do on date night? Try a Barn Dance at Malabar Farm! We went to our first one this Saturday. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. And another big bonus is that it is FREE! Here's some tips if you decide to give square dancing a try...

1. You don't need to go out and buy an outfit like the one pictured above (which by the way is NOT what we wore). Although if you really want to wear a frilly dress, this would be a good occasion!

2. It's ok if you don't know how to dance. There are lots of beginners and the callers walk you through the steps. Learning is half the fun.

3. If you arrive right at 7:00 and feel weird because it is an older crowd, rest assured that the younger generation shows up "fashionably late".

4. Be prepared to be spun...a lot. Thankfully there are breaks after every couple of dances or I wouldn't have been able to stay on my feet!

Go brave and give it a try!

To view dates of future Barn Dances check out:

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Day of Rest

The Sabbath. It has fascinated me for a long time. A day of rest each that possible? I can't figure out how my family would fit that in during the school year. Being married to a teacher means lots of grading to do on the weekends. But summer is coming, and we're going to give this a try! Sundays after church are going to be about relaxing and focusing on relationships instead of "what needs to be done". Here are some thoughts from Joanne Heim that make me desire and anticipate the Sundays to come...

"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)...God created the Sabbath for our benefit, for our enjoyment. The Sabbath is a day unlike any other - a day for rest and relaxation and fun and family and friends. The Sabbath is supposed to be a guilt-free vacation day each week - a day to not work and not feel guilty about not working! It is one day not measured by how productive you were or how many things you checked off your to-do list."

"Instead of keeping the Sabbath holy - set apart, different, special - we've made it a day like any other. We skip the rest God offers for a hodgepodge of last loads of laundry, trips to the grocery store, last-minute school projects. We fall into bed, feeling like we've almost caught up, and then wake up Monday mornings tired, unrested, with another week ahead to somehow get through."

"God gets involved and has to "make me lie down" (Psalm 23) because rest must be taught; we must learn to rest. Why doesn't rest come naturally? For me, it gets pushed down on the list, brushed aside for all of those things that seem more pressing. But rest is important. God "makes me lie down" in those green pastures for the purposes of restoring my soul. And that's something I want - how about you?"

"The Sabbath is my chance every week to turn around, to turn back, to think again of the way I want to live, the way I want my family to function, the way I want to walk closely with my God. The Sabbath is my chance to return to God, to the point where I strayed from the path, and to begin again."

Jesus says "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest." -Matthew 11:28 msg

Monday, May 18, 2009


Do you ever fear talking about your faith? I do. What if they don't care what I have to say? What if they don't listen? What if my words don't come out right? What if it turns them away? But what if God is urging me to talk to them and I refuse out of fear...what then?

As God is preparing Ezekiel to become a prophet in Israel He tells him, "Your job is to speak. Whether they listen is not your concern." (Ezekiel 2:7 msg) Then God promises to strengthen Ezekiel in verse 3:8.

What is interesting to me is that even though God is going to directly give Ezekiel the words to say to his people, he still has a choice as to whether to speak them. The same choice that we have everyday. So God lets Ezekiel know that if he chooses NOT to speak the message that he's been given, God would hold him accountable for the ruin of the people. (Ezekiel 3:20-21) I wouldn't want to be responsible for that.

While you or I, as Christians, may not be commissioned as prophets, we have been commissioned to "go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20 msg) I think there are different ways to reach different people. But when I feel that stirring inside me, telling me to share something about my faith with a particular person, I hope to always say "Yes, Lord. I will not fear, for the outcome is up to you. Give me the right words to speak."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Like a Child

Sometimes I finish watching a movie and think "Wow, I just wasted the past two hours of my life!" And sometimes I enjoy movies because they are entertaining and make me laugh. But there are those few movies that stir my soul and leave me deep in thought...movies that I know I will remember for weeks, months, and even years after watching it. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of those movies. Essentially it is about seeing the Jews concentration camps through the eyes of a child. And it reminded me that sometimes children have things to teach us adults...

Children can teach us to love without judgement or prejudice.

Children can teach us to fully enjoy the moment, instead of thinking about everything else that needs to be done.

Children can teach us to play sports for the love of the game. I enjoy watching Jacob's t-ball practice because the kids care about each other and having fun more than the competition (which may drive all the fathers crazy during

And when it comes to faith, Mark 10:15 tells us to "receive the Kingdom of God like a little child". My kids are so trusting and have complete faith in me to care for all their needs. They don't worry because they know they are loved and in capable hands. If only we all trusted our Heavenly Father the same way...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Boy Meets Girl

You may be wondering why I'm reading a book about courtship since I'm married. Yes, that stage is behind me...Thank God. Well, there has been a single young lady coming to me for relationship advice. Thinking back to my single years, I could tell her what NOT to do. I have learned from plenty of mistakes. But I was lacking in wisdom on how to tell her to do it the right way! So I bought her this book, Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris, to guide her and I decided to read it as well.

I would highly recommend this book to any singles out there wanting to pursue a relationship in a God-honoring way. I wish I would have read it. Joshua Harris talks about the idea of courtship...purposeful romance. Some of his ideas seem old-fashioned. I read it thinking "Are there really people out there that can maintain this level of purity?" Our culture is bombarded with images of immorality so often that it has become the accepted way to enter a relationship. But just because it is accepted doesn't make it right. Young people today need to know that they have a choice...there is a better way.

The updated version of this book also has a section in the back with "8 Great Courtship Conversations" that are neat date ideas for couples who want to get to know each other on a deeper level.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yesterday was Mother's Day. I could have expected to wake up to a hot homemade breakfast, flowers, and heartfelt cards telling me how wonderful I am :) I could have expected to get the "day off" and do no chores of any kind...a day of total relaxation. I could have expected that someone else would do those chores so they wouldn't all be waiting for me Monday morning. I could have expected that my children would be perfect angels and would cease to argue and disobey. But those expectations would have led to disappointment. They wouldn't be grounded in reality.

So instead, when I woke up yesterday morning I decided to get my attitude in the right place. I told God "I am so thankful to be a mother. There are many women that aren't able to have children. I have been blessed with 3 active, healthy boys! Today I don't want to focus on ME. I want to focus on Your faithfulness in growing my family and making me a mother." And I believe I was able to enjoy my Mother's Day much more because of it.

I have learned that I have the tendency to daydream and "anticipate" certain events in my life. While all anticipation isn't bad...what happens when expectations aren't met? Disappointment and discontentment. I find that much of my unhappiness in life comes from unmet expectations. And that is something I have control over! If my expectations of how life "should be" are coming from fictional movies or books, or my own imagination, then I am setting myself up for a fall. It's a difficult thing to separate myself from because I really enjoy those types of entertainment! However, I know what is best for me. Real life. Real people. Real experiences. And most importantly...God's truth and perspective. Is there an area of your life that is causing you unhappiness? A change of attitude and expectation might be a good place to start.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Adam and Eve

"Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him." - Matthew Henry

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Treasure at the End of the Trail

Being alone with 3 little boys all day long can wear on me. I love them dearly, but the collective whining, arguing, crankiness and demanding nature of children can overwhelm me at times (like today). Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes. Gary Thomas says that "If God gives us situations we already have the strength to handle, we won't have to grow in order to deal with them."

He says that "our first and natural inclination in any trial is to pray for God to remove the difficulty". (Obviously, that isn't an option in parenting!) "But God's first priority is often to strengthen us in the midst of the difficulty rather than to take us out of the difficulty. That's because he can see the treasure that lies at the end of the trail".

And just what is the treasure? "No matter how difficult our children may be, God can and will use them to shape our souls into his Son's image. No matter how many bumps we may hit or bends we may have to negotiate along the road to raising our children, God promises to guide our steps, strengthen our stride, and refresh our souls. He knows we are insufficient, but he points us to his Son's provision and his Spirit's comfort, guidance, and power, all of which more than meet our needs. Even if we don't see all the results we like to see, at least we're getting steady reminders of God's patience and long-suffering toward us. Parenting may not be an easy journey, but in this it is truly a sacred one". (from Sacred Parenting)

Monday, May 4, 2009


Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Closing of a Women's Emmaus Walk to hear the testimonies of the women who had attended. I almost didn't go. Lots of excuses ran through my mind as to why I should stay home. But an invitation from a friend convinced me, and I am so glad I went. To think that I nearly missed out on the blessing and inspiration that I received last night...

God used the testimonies of these women as reminders to me. It brought back memories of my own Emmaus experiences and what God had taught me. It also reminded me of the power of God's love and how he can use us to show that love to others if we're willing. There were women there who had recently buried loved ones, who had been hurt by the church, who had drifted away from God, who didn't feel loved...all kinds of pain. And these women found restoration. They had joy. They had hope. They felt the love of Jesus because of a group of people who were willing to sacrifice their time to invest in the lives of others. It was beautiful.

One story I heard from one of the ladies (we'll call her Jen) echoes something I struggle with...being quick to judge based on appearances. Jen says that there was a girl on the Walk who she was critical of. This girl had some physical deformities and a speech impediment. Jen was nice to her, but held feelings of judgement in her heart. Well, there came a time later in the weekend that Jen was overcome with emotion and was at the altar crying. Suddenly she felt a set of arms around her and heard someone praying words of was this girl. Jen learned a powerful lesson and said she will never view people in the same way again.

It was an awesome reminder to me as well that we are all children of God. We share the same hopes, dreams, fears, and hurts. We may look at another person and think that we have nothing in common. Maybe because of how they look or act, or how we perceive their life to be. But there is so much that goes on beneath the surface. May we all take the time to see others for who they really are. Thank you God for the reminder.