You Are, Because I AM

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I wonder…

Am I an artist?
Can I create art that captures the spirit and soul of creation;
Something that speaks to you in a meaningful way,
To comfort you and brighten your day.

Am I a writer?
Can I find my voice and write so I’ll be heard.
Will my readers identify with me,
And yearn to know God more intimately.
Will you see my heart and hear my pain,
But understand healing and wholeness are possible for me and you.

Am I a speaker?
Can I speak honestly and openly with love and grace.
When I look at your beautiful face,
Can I speak into your destiny,
Or will I hesitate because fear of rejection looms over me,
Like a dark cloud obstructs light,
And casts shadows upon my mind.

And then I hear His whisper,
“You are, because I am;
Therefore, you certainly can.”

I Still Believe

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Photo Credit: Greg Shrader

I still believe in the sea of humanity,

Where people dwell in peace and humility.

I still believe in sunrises,

Where hope abounds, 

And truth shines bright,

And people break free from misery.

I still believe in the beauty of diversity,

Where open ears and hearts join together,

And respect one another,

Where judgement dies,

And love abides.

I still believe in a better world 

For both me and you.

If not now then later,

When Jesus is adored,

And the world restored.

Like a Breath of Fresh Air

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When I need inspiration, you God, are there like a breath of fresh air.
Ideas begin to flow as I let go.

When I need encouragement, you God, are there like a breath of fresh air.
Negative thoughts melt;
Truth takes root in my heart.

When I need joy, you God, are there like a breath of fresh air.
You fill my senses and soul;
I smile knowing I’m not alone.

When I need direction, you God, are there like a breath of fresh air.
Intense impressions stick to my mind,
And you give me a sign that everything is fine.

Soul RX

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Dear Me,

Is that you? It doesn’t feel like you. Loss and loneliness linger, trying to drown you in sorrow and swallow you up. You think of yourself as a piece of washed up driftwood waiting for somebody to pick you up.

Your spirit and soul cry out to God. You pray. You look. You listen. You act. He comes to rescue you.

Music plays. You slip away with your paint and canvas in hand to a vibrant, colorful land. Each brush stroke brings emotional release. Your heavy heart lifts, and peace prevails.

You don’t see progress, but you sense it deep within your soul. Your mind and body are at rest. That’s progress. It’s found in the process.

My 2020 Christmas Letter

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I entered the new year like many of you—with lofty aspirations. I sought to fulfill my bucket list and write. My husband and daughter accompanied me to an Introduction to Handguns, followed by a couple of dates at the firing range. I finally gained enough confidence to apply as the newest angel at Charlie Townsend’s Detective Agency. Ha, ha! Then, BAM! COVID-19! 

I  also set out to prayerfully write a devotional book. However, discouragement and depression drained my ambition by July. If only I could be a prolific writer and spit out books like Stephen King, right?

I’ve found myself wrestling with a myriad of doubts and disappointments. Haven’t you?

In spite of dim circumstances, COVID-19 stirred me to question and seek God about almost everything.  He began revealing Himself to me on a deeper level—layer by layer. As a result, my thinking is changing about God, myself, and others.

Here are some priceless gems I learned during a divisive and challenging year:

  • Love is self-sacrificing and trumps all for the common greater good of others.  Wearing a mask and social distancing is something I choose to protect others and reduce the spread of a life-threatening virus.  It’s not something I want to do, but I love you. You might say, “But it doesn’t work.” But what if you’re wrong?
  • Disagreement is inevitable. Having a different perspective and/or belief as others, doesn’t give me or them the right to judge or criticize. We’re all in this together.  My job is to love.
  • Your political party affiliation doesn’t determine your status as a Christian. God does!
  • God is in science. He created it to complement His nature.
  • Things are not always as they seem because the spiritual realm dictates our natural realm not the other way around.
  • I am a citizen of His Kingdom, a polar opposite world order than this earthly one. Therefore, I must be diligent and protect my mind and heart by cultivating my relationship with Jesus and seeking His heart and mind first. 

I hope my vulnerability inspires you, and you find peace and joy in the presence of Christ.

May your hope and expectation be set on Jesus this Christmas and in all the years to follow. He’s coming again. The government will rest on His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end (Isaiah 9:6-7; NLT emphasis mine).

Behold the Lion! Can you see Him now? The one who triumphs over all evil and makes all things new!

Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas filled with awe and wonder of Him.

In His extravagant love,

Shelley

The Christmas Star

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The Christmas Star

Shined bright to guide and protect that Christmas night.

It reminds us of hope bursting forth

changing our life’s course.

For without “The Light of the World”,

We would not have abundant life

Or experience perfect love from our Father above.

We remember that divine star.

And from afar, we hear Him call our name

And say, “I will heal your pain.”

Strength for the Soul

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Strength isn’t measured by the muscles we flex or the masks we wear,

But by conceding and meeting with He who knows the brokenness we hide.

When we rest and depend on Him, He breathes into us His life.

His thoughts and feelings trickle in and transcend our flesh.

We no longer strive, but thrive!

Finding Wisdom

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red and black wooden chest on white sand

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Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

If God put the tools for wisdom in a box, what would we find? A glowing treasure chest–a ray of light beckoning us to open it? Inside lie a map, compass, and scales. Bright colored jewels of different sizes and shapes mark the location of wisdom on the map. Picking up the compass for direction, we head off to the location of the first gem. Each stone is inspected and weighed to determine its value.

But wisdom isn’t found in a box; it’s found in God alone. Sometimes God uses other people to speak words of wisdom to us, but each word must be weighed. Does it align with His word and character? Sometimes what’s best for one person isn’t best for another. Everybody’s situation is different.

Some children thrive in public schools and others do better in smaller environments like the home or private schools. I know of seniors who flourish in retirement centers and nursing homes where they can live life together vicariously. Then there are others who prefer to live more solitary.

In the midst of a global health pandemic, I feel like the rope in the game Tug of War–being pulled by my own desires and the world.

Churches, restaurants, theaters, and retailers are opening again. Yes, I’ve made a mad dash inside a few retail stores. Yet, I’m reluctant to attend worship, go out to eat, or see a movie. Crowd size, building size, and time exposed to others are all factors to consider until the COVID-19 threat dissipates.

It’s true that sometimes fear can masquerade as wisdom (2 Cor. 11:14). When I encounter this, I ask what am I doing and why am I doing it? The motive of your heart will usually reveal the source of it.

There was a time I wouldn’t participate in a lot of physical activity because I was afraid of injuring my back again. I thought I was using wisdom, but God revealed it was really fear.

Scripture says God gives wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5), and 2 Timothy 1:8 says, “For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self control.” The Aramaic translates the word self control as revelation light or instruction.

How can you trust you’re doing the right thing? Weigh each decision like a gemstone and look at it from all angles. Ask God:

If I do this, will it please you?
Who will it help, and who could it hurt?
Will this choice reveal my love for you?
Am I more interested in doing my will or yours?
Will it produce peace?

Remember God’s ways are not our ways and rest assured He will guide you if you ask. Often He will stretch our faith and take us places we aren’t comfortable going but are necessary.

Wisdom listens and learns. It is humble, loving, compassionate, gentle, and exercises restraint.

Try not to take offense when your friends or family don’t make the same decisions as you. Be patient and kind to one another, most importantly–love one another!

 

God’s Goodness

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dog licking ice cream

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Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8 (MEV)

The sweet creamy taste of ice cream melts away the heat of your stressful day, and the coldness soothes and refreshes your soul! You plop down on the couch, put your feet up on the coffee table, and open wide—savoring the rich flavors of the next bite. You see yourself on the sandy shore of a Tahitian beach, listening to the waves crash and Bob Marley singing Three Little Birds under the cool breeze of your private tropical cabana.

Every little thing is gonna be alright! Right? Maybe. But it likely won’t happen from seeking comfort in food.

God invites us to taste, see, listen, smell, and touch His goodness through our five senses. If I told you all about my beautiful backyard oasis, you might imagine what it’s like, but you couldn’t experience its goodness.

But if I invited you over for a refreshing dip in my pool, you’d see the crystal blue water nestled among the cluster of green trees. You’d stand under the waterfall, and feel the coolness of the water cascade over your shoulders. The soft ripples of the fountain and the calming scent of the lavender nearby might put you in a serene trance. Could you leave? Would you want to?

God designed our physical realm to reflect the spiritual realm. The more you seek God’s presence, the more you’ll experience comfort and tranquility. They’re not found in the things of the world, but in the company of His Spirit. He gives us peace and rest that surpass all our understanding and calm us in the midst of life’s storms when we accept His invitation to drink deeply of His Spirit.

God’s goodness is rooted in His character. He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

All of creation sing God’s praises. The sea roars, the birds sing, and the trees dance and clap their hands.

How has God revealed His goodness to you recently and how did you respond?

Unspeakable Joy

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dandelion nature sunlight

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You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy! Psalm 16:11 (MEV)

Her smile took my breath away. Immense joy filled my heart with overflowing gratitude. The nurse gently placed my baby girl in my arms, and it clicked–I saw the grandiosity and generosity of God.

What a gift, I thought. Would I be a good mother? What words would she first utter? When would she take her first steps? Who would she most resemble when she grew up?

I imagine my little girl entered this big world excited but apprehensive! For 9 months, she had all her needs met safely tucked away in my womb; it connected us. Now it was up to her Dad and me to show her how to do this thing called “life”.

You see, we weren’t created to do life alone, but together–in a relationship! I treasure my time with my family and my girlfriends. We share a lot of laughter, love, and precious moments together. They’re available when I need a listening ear, a hug, and prayer. But it’s God who ultimately speaks to my heart and brings me a continual revelation of the full life available to me.

David cherished his companionship with God; he found purposeful joy and peace in His presence despite his circumstances. He knew the secret to finding rest and confidence was in a deep-seated intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father.

You. Darling. Take God’s breath away. He waits for you to climb into His lap like a child where He’ll comfort you with His Word and show you a whole new world–unspeakable joy!

The next time you find yourself jumping with excitement because your toddler just scored at his soccer game or clapping thunderously with a hoot and holler when your teen gets a prestigious academic award, remember these are all reflections of praise. He wired you to share in His joy of all creation.

Ponder This: How will you find joy in the midst of this pandemic and praise Him today?