Do Something, Even if it’s One Thing

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been around the same track of dream chasing. I start off sprinting, bold and confident, then I run out of steam halfway to the finish line. Can you relate? Why does this happen?

Well, for starters, we get tired and weary. This happens because we begin to realize how weak we really are. We forget that when we are the weakest, God is the strongest in us. We get distracted by opportunity, by the cares of this life, by good things and bad things. Distraction comes in all sorts of packages delivered by all types of people. We forget that when we keep our eyes on the prize of our heavenly calling, we will remain fixed and focused. We forget. We forget why we started and where we are going. We forget who we are and how far we’ve come. We forget that the still small voice of reassurance is more powerful than any fan or any naysayers. We look to others for validation – forgetting that we are already chosen and approved by God.

Go CONFIDENTLY in the direction of your dreams today. Whether it’s making a decision and standing firm on it, making a list of things you need to do, or spending time in the presence of God to be redirected and refocused. Maybe you’ve been putting something off until later than you can definitely start today. Share your dream with a trusted loved one and ask him or her to hold you accountable. Find a partner, if that’s what you need. Just don’t keep running from what God has for you. Run towards Him, and He’ll take you to all the places He has for you. It’ll be the ride of your life.

Do something, even if it’s one thing.

XO,

Shannon

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You Have Not Because You Ask Not

I have a dream.

To help the broken, to write a book, to speak to people about the goodness of God… but, my wildest and biggest dream is to open a retreat center for broken people to come and be restored. God has literally shown me in clear glimpses what it will look like, what it will be like, and what it will do for multitudes.

I’ve spent the last two years dreaming quietly, while helping others live their dreams. But, I’m sure that it’s time to live mine, now. There are millions of hurting and broken people who have lost their hope. I want to help them find it again.

I was meditating on some of the things God has shown me and began getting ideas at light speed! I felt a still, small voice saying, ‘you have not because you ask not.’ God began to download some GREAT ideas into my mind. I started to write numbers and thought, ‘duh!’ Money is no obstacle for God!’ I believe it is time to start asking people to sow into this God-given dream. In order for it to come to pass, I need money… and, well, it doesn’t grow on trees. With our Christmas project, Stand in the Gap, right around the corner, what better time is there to become a monthly partner of From the Ruins?! And, guess what!! Literally five minutes after God resolved in my heart that it’s ok to ask Him and it’s ok to ask people to put their money where their mouth is, I got an amazing call.

A friend called and said that God impressed it on her heart to give her very first commission check to FTR!!! Love it when God confirms that He’s STILL speaking.

So, with all of that being said, will you partner with us? Will you be a monthly contributor to help hurting and broken people? If so, click the link on our home page or the donate tab on Facebook.

Xo,

Shannon

Here’s the closest picture I could find of what the retreat center will look like:

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Transformation Tuesday; One Thought at a Time.

8C69E156-01AF-4EDB-BB58-27F63E813797.jpeg“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

It’s Transformation Tuesday, y’all. What does that even mean, right?! It’s always so weight loss focused, but, in reality, we all need transforming in some area of life. If you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘where do I begin?’ – this is a must read for you.

Everything begins in the mind. It’s our biggest battlefield and the devil’s choice playground. It’s where both our wildest dreams and our biggest fears take root. As I type this, I see the reflection of my very tired face in the screen. I’ve already thought to myself, ‘Oh man. There’s a new wrinkle you didn’t have yesterday…’ and ‘Wow, I really need to pluck my eyebrows.’ Every single move we make begins with a thought. And, every move we don’t make.

Have you ever the the phrase, ‘whether you think you can or you can’t – you are right.’ It might be my favorite line in the movie Boss Baby.

For years, my mind was the place that I stored all my thoughts of not being good enough, pretty enough,  or smart enough. I spent the first half of my life thinking I was too thin and the latter part believing I was too fat. I never felt ‘just right’ for anything. That feeling only intensified after the loss of my eighteen year old son. In my mind, I became the elephant in everyone’s room… so displaced. Getting fatter only made me identify even more with that elephant, as my whopping forty extra pounds made me lose myself more and more.

My mind was grounds for the most intense battles, and I had no will to fight against my own worst enemy – myself. I was weak, tired, and broken, disguising all of that as fat and happy. Being a good person, a good Christian, a good wife and mother – well those were way more important then my physical condition, right? WRONG.

In most cases, our physical condition is the clearest picture to the condition of our true self.

If we are overeating, it is because we are stuffing our faces in hopes to fill our empty hearts. Physical food was never meant to fill the places that only God’s love can. Unless we become aware of God’s great love for us, then receive and accept it, we will never be able to truly love ourselves.

Just as we must to learn to take the negative thoughts captive and find a way to displace them and disqualify them, we also have a grave responsibility to take our good thoughts captive. Thinking good thoughts will never produce actual results in your life. You’ve got to put action to those thoughts in order for them to impact your life.

I’ve by no means arrived. I still have sooooo much to work on. I’m not some fitness guru, nor am I saying I’ll never struggle in this area ever again. However, I’m aware. I’m aware of the lies I’ve told myself. I’m aware that the devil wants me to be defeated. I’m aware that I have a part to play.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12

I’m going to tell you something the world won’t. I’m going to also tell you something that even your closest friends won’t.

You are beautiful. You are enough. You are loved. Period.

Now start telling yourself this.

Take your life back, friend. One thought at a time.

Xo,

Shannon

 

The God Who Sees

Recently, Chris and I took seventeen of our youth to camp. I had no idea what to expect. Since I didn’t grow up in church, ‘Christian Camp’ was foreign to me. All I knew was that I was excited for our kids! Chris and I prayed for months leading up that our young people would EXPERIENCE God for themselves… that He would individually meet each one and each one would have an encounter with the Living God. He did that and soooo much more. I watched young person after young person  encounter the Lord for him or herself. It was incredible. 

Each day during devotion God spoke through Chris and I specifically for our youth, whether it was a word for an individual or something collective for our whole group, He never ceased to amaze me. 

I’m not sure why, but I hadn’t really come expecting anything for myself. Maybe because I was just praying for strength to be all our teens needed, maybe because I was so hungry for our kids, as a youth director, to get all that they needed. I guess I just felt it was FOR them, and seeing them receive was honestly the best gift to me. However, each day during quiet time, God was speaking so much, to me, personally. I was hearing Him louder than I had in months. Life can be very loud, almost deafening at times. There really is something beautiful about shutting yourself off to hear only the voice of God. I began to get answers to questions I’d forgotten I even asked. I think it’s easy sometimes to settle… to say “I’ll get what I get and make the best of it.” I had almost forgotten what a big God I have. He’s a Father who wants me to have everything He came to bring. Not half, not some; ALL. 

The preacher, Pastor Nate, opened the week up with this idea of an all inclusive resort… how if we went there and didn’t partake in all the amenities, then we weren’t really experiencing what we came for. We were actually shortchanging ourselves. It’s hard for me to admit, but I’ve kind of been living there for awhile now… I’m in this all inclusive resort that offers everything, yet I’ve been ok with just the scraps. God sent His Son to make all things new, yet I’ve been living on hand me downs. (I mean I love me a good second hand store, especially Plato’s closet, but that’s not the point I’m making.) God gives new days, but sometimes I bring the pain of yesterday into them. God gives me great joy, but sometimes I feel broken beyond repair. He has restored my soul, but can I just tell you how exhausted I am lately?! Why?! Because I’m not entering in to His joy, His rest, His mercy. 

Christiano passing away was obviously the hardest, most painful thing… it still hurts all the time. I’m not saying that will ever go away. What I’m saying is that, on this journey, I’ve experienced crazy amazing joy even with the deepest, most intense, heartache. That’s the all inclusive deal… that even when things around you are falling apart, you can still have everything that Christ made available on the cross. 

There are sharks even in the most beautiful oceans, but that should never stop us from swimming. 

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

But, I know it can sometimes be hard to just keep swimming; it’s almost impossible to tread water when you’re already drowning. It isn’t easy to keep dreaming of things to come and hoping for a turn around… to keep trusting and believing that somehow, some way, God will make a way… especially when nothing can be seen on the horizon and there is no clear vision in sight. When it just looks like miles upon miles of dry and barren land, an endless landscape of ruins. 

Ruins – there’s that word again.

One particular area of pain for me has been my lack of clarity with our ministry, From the Ruins. And, yes, pain is the right word. When God births something in you that you are so certain of, then you begin to feel it slipping away, it’s hard. Especially when that thing is created out the very agony of losing your first born child. Of course, an alternative to the way you wish things had been, but something beautiful out of the ashes . . .

It was almost miraculous the way if first took off. People jumped on board to support, we began helping grieving families right away, I was speaking in churches on a regular basis, our grief support sessions were producing real and lasting fruit… then, it just stopped. Literally like a game of freeze tag that I never wanted to play. It’s been two years of just sitting and waiting on God, while still giving it everything I can. Honestly, it’s been like grieving Christiano all over again. This mother needs to believe… needs to know… his death is for something greater, something that will bring God the glory and keep our son’s beautiful memory alive. But, as I’ve had to do with everything in this life… I’ve spent the last two years laying it down over and over again. I don’t meant that I ever really pick it back up, but boy can it get into my feelings and start to mess with me… that’s when I have to audibly say, “Lord, I lay it down at your feet.” It’s hard, but nothing in this life is really mine… even my children. 

On the third day, I happened to be wearing my From the Ruins T-shirt to a worship service. Honestly, I wear them a lot because, still to this day, I have never found a T-shirt so comfortable. I don’t even think about it when I put it on anymore. A boy named Donovan from another church came up to me on our walk to activities. He said, “Miss, your shirt really spoke to me today.” I looked into his eyes that were filled with tears and said, “Really? I’m so glad to hear that. Can you tell me about it?” Through tears, he said “I felt like God was telling me to open my bible and read the scripture on the back of your shirt, and so I did. I really believe it was for me. I believe I’m called to help people out of the Ruins.” Wow. 

For those of you who don’t know, the scripture for our ministry is Isaiah 58:10-12. It says:

“And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

I wasn’t even asking the Lord to show me anything. Yet, God used a boy I had only known three days to confirm that From the Ruins is still very much alive and well. Chris and I prayed with him and encouraged him. But, what it did for me personally, just wow.

 The next day the preacher spoke about how the people in Jesus’ hometown rejected Jesus’ healing. They just couldn’t get past the fact that he was a carpenters son. Sometimes, I feel like that… like it’s those closest to us who can’t get behind the vision of this ministry. But, I have processed that hurt over the last couple of weeks. If Jesus went through something that I feel a similarity to, then hallelujah I’m becoming more like Him! Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from doing many, many, many amazing things. He focused on the work of His father, pleasing Him alone, as He only leaned on His close few. I’m learning to do the same. 

What if Jesus decided to stop his ministry because of the few who didn’t support it? Because of the few who didn’t believe in Him? Where would we be?

Another bible story came to mind this week for me. It’s the story of Hagar. What if she chose to keep running? What if she never had her encounter with the Living God?

“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?””

When we believe God sees us, it’s so much easier to see Him. 

I am incredibly encouraged after last week. Encouraged to keep going. To focus my heart and fix my eyes on the One who sees me! The One I’ve also seen. I’ll take this ministry anywhere God says, anywhere the people want it. Not on my terms, but on the leading of the Lord.  

Xo,

Shannon