You WILL Find Rest for your Souls

At the top of my church message notes – Make Room for Rest.    Another one of those services that rock you to your core when you least expect it.  A topic that you know you need to hear but don’t’ fully understand how much you REALLY needed to hear it.  Ironically a friend had heard about a portion of the service on Saturday night and told me I would probably appreciate it.  She was so right.  Yes Lord – speak to your daughter’s weary soul and body!

make-room-small-groups

We are currently in a series called “Make Room”  with the premise that we can’t make God move, but we can make room in our lives for him to move.  Today was making room for REST.  Our pastor, who is equally wise and witty, challenged us with the thought of creating a “disciplined rest” versus a “crashing rest.”  Creating space to rest as God designed us instead of relying on rest after burn out.  What if we had the perspective of managed rest being more important that a managed schedule?  Rock this girl’s world Lord!

In the bible it says:  “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27   Yes.  He created a day because he knows we need restoration and rejuvenation.  A day to reset.  A day to rest.  A day to listen.  A day to be tuned out from the busyness and tuned into him.  My body physically needs it; my soul even more.  He mentioned when he is lacking in rest he becomes more irritated and impatient.  Preach!  So do I!  Lack of rest = lack of fruits of the spirit!  Man oh man can I attest to that.  I pulled out my journal and wrote down words that describe me when I am lacking rest.  Short.  Irritated.  Snappy.  Frustrated.  Non-attentive.   Tired.  Lord, give me rest.   Less me, more you.  Fill me with your fruit.  Joy.  Love.  Peace.  Forbearance.  Kindness.  Goodness.  Faithfulness.  Gentleness.  Self-Control.  Shannon – you NEED to make room for these.

294720_10150394380035733_1191121925_n

So, internally my mind starts racing.  Give up AN ENTIRE DAY??  What’s that mean?  A whole day lost of schoolwork, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc!  YIKES!   Lord, “ain’t nobody got time for that” (insert Sweet Brown Joke and if you don’t get it, google it, a must).  The Lord quieted my heart and reminded me that I may not have time for it, but HE certainly does.  “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.  Take my yoke upon you and LEARN from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light!  Matthew 11:28-30

Our pastor talked about the Sabbath as an act of worship.  I’m calling it my act of surrender.  Surrendering my busyness, stress, over-booked schedule to him.  Trusting that where I fall short he will fill in.  Knowing that I can accomplish more through resting and leaning into him than I could ever accomplish alone in one day.  So I sat down and wrote out this prayer:

“Thank you Lord that you created us to REST and RELY on you.  I pray you give me peace in the faithfulness of obeying your commands to slow down and rest/restore.  I pray this also becomes a season of learning to use my time wisely and work smarter (not necessarily harder).  Multiply these efforts Lord!  Thank you for caring about every aspect of our lives.  Your daughter loves you!”

So how does this play out in my life you ask?  I’m surrendering my Sundays to be my Sabbath. It’s my new day of rest.  No schoolwork.  No laundry.  No grocery shopping.  A day of restoration.  A day of rejuvenation.  A day of relationship with him and those I love.  This idea doesn’t come easy to me.  I cringe at what a day of rest will look like when I have 4 exams on a Monday and Tuesday.  But that’s ok… that’s what surrender is about.  A step of faith.  A step of uncertainty filled with trust.   That’s the step I am taking today.

When the message wrapped up we sang the song “Our Savior’s Here.”

You bring hope, You bring life, Awaken hearts open eyes
With our voices hear them rise, We call these dry bones to come alive
You are faithful you are true , We can always run to
Love that never fails , Arms that never close , Blood that covers sin , Grace that never ends.

Thank you Lord!  Awaken this tired and weary soul!  You are faithful!  You never fail.  I rest in you.

250807_10150257334030733_6258321_n

P.S. – I’m sitting in Starbucks as I write this blog.  I have had two groups sit behind me discussing this series.  God is obviously moving, making room in others lives as well.  He means business.  Thank you Jesus.  Keep making room for less us, more you!

Advertisements

Giving Her Away…

Today, I made a trip to the MUSC Bookstore to purchase a gift.  I was walking around, checking out the inventory of the store when I stumbled upon this: 

Image

 

Yes… an MUSC dad shirt.  Oh how my dad would have loved one of those.  My heart immediately became sad.  So many days I sit and ponder what life would be like if my dad was still around.  I decided to go to PA school after he passed away, so he had no clue how excited I was about this new path in life.  My dad loved to hear from his daughters.  He would let us call him and talk and talk (and talk) about what was going on in our lives.  He would listen so intently and showed genuine interest in even the smallest detail.  I know he’d love to hear about my first exam, my first CARES patient, or how I drive myself crazy preparing for Block Exams.  I ended up leaving the store empty handed.

As I left school, I started thinking about God’s timing.  My dad passed away a year before I got married.  Time was not on his side to walk me down the aisle.  It’s ok… in my heart he still did…

Image

As I started to think about the fact that he never walked me down the aisle, the Lord reminded me of a special fact… he didn’t walk me down the aisle, but my dad DID know that I was going to marry the love of my life.  Brook called my dad about a month before he passed away and asked if he could have my hand in marriage.  I love when my mom tells me this story from her perspective.  Brook called and my mom answered the phone.  She assumed Brook was just calling to check on how my dad was doing.  She passed the phone over to my dad.  After my dad hung up the phone, my mom asked my dad what Brook had called for.  She looked up and there were tears coming down his face.  He told her that Brook had called because he wanted to marry me.  My mom said my dad was crying tears of joy because he knew that even when his time on this Earth had ended, that his little girl was going to be taken care of.  

So, I was driving down the road, thinking about that.  Most dads give their daughters away on their wedding day.  They entrust their daughters to a new man.  Some dads “give” their daughters away, but in all reality, they are somewhat “sharing” their little girls.  My dad had to make a FULL surrender of his daughter into another man’s entrustment because he wouldn’t be around to take care of her.  I think God showed me, today, how powerful that moment was.  That even though I didn’t get the wedding day aisle walk, or the daddy-daughter dance, that I received my very own, special moment.  I was not a witness to when my dad “gave me away to Brook,” but it sure does give me a peace.   

So, my purpose in writing this all, is to give a shout out to the man I love so very much, Brook Daniel.  A great big plug to the man who accepted a huge challenge the day he asked for my hand in marriage.  Today, in the midst of all these thoughts about my dad, I had a grateful heart.  A grateful heart because of the man who loves me, supports me, encourages me, and pushes me each day to be a little better then the day before.  A man who walked into my life in the midst of craziness and loved me through it all.  A man who saw potential in me that I didn’t see, but helped me see it in myself.  A man who makes me smile and laugh.  A man, who I know without a doubt would take a bullet for me.  A man who I know will love our future kids in the same way my dad loved and cared for me.  Our love hasn’t always been perfect, but I am  grateful for the growth in it.  

“I do are the two most famous last words, The beginning of the end, But to lose your life for another I’ve heard, Is a good place to begin, ‘Cause the only way to find your life, Is to lay your own life down, And I believe it’s an easy price, For the life that we have found…” 

So, God grants me a conversation with my dad today… Let’s go ahead and be honest and state the obvious… I would talk, and talk (and talk).  He’d hear about PA school, and the Air Force, and vacations, and South Africa, and the munchkins, and everything in between… no detail spared… but most importantly, right before that conversation ended, I would let him know that saying “yes” and giving his little girl away was one of the best things he has ever done for his daughter.  Today, my heart is grateful for that.  

ImageImage

Image

 

Abandoned Heart

Image

Hey Folks!

Not a lot of time to write… this thing called PA school takes up my waking hours. 🙂  Just wanted to share a few songs/verses that were on my heart this week.

Last week was probably my most draining week of being in PA school.  After that long week, I prayed for rejuvenation; to be recharged with a thankful and grateful heart.  God put these items on my heart:

This is the day the LORD has made. We WILL rejoice and be glad in it.   Psalm 118:24

~I was reminded it was my CHOICE to rest and find joy in him, no matter the circumstance.  How refreshing!

Our church introduced two new songs:

Kari Jobe’s “Savior’s Here” (I chose some of my favorite lyrics) 

You bring hope,  You bring life 
Awaken hearts, open eyes… 
You are faithful you are true 
We can ALWAYS run to 
Love that never fails, Arms that never close 
Blood that covers sin, Grace that never ends 
You have saved us, You have won 
Sin is broken, Death is gone 
Freedom’s found us, Breakthrough’s near 
In YOUR presence, NO more Fear 
Our savior’s here, Our savior’s here 
Faith is stirring, Hearts are free 
Chains are broken when we BELIEVE 
You are mighty you come through 
We can ALWAYS run to….

Hillsong “Alive in Us” (I chose lyrics from this song as well”

You rose from death to victory, You reign in life
Oh majesty, Your name be high and lifted up
Jesus, Jesus alive in us
You have made us NEW, We owe it all to You
In everything, Be exalted
In everything, Be exalted
The enemy is UNDER Your feet
We are free, We are free
Death has been defeated by LOVE, You OVERCOME!

~These songs have hit hard.  I pull into a store/school/etc and wait for the song to end before getting out.  I find myself in heart abandoned worship in the car (I’m sure the people in other cars driving by are a little curious what’s going on in my world. 🙂  

So grateful he makes ALL things news and his mercies are new each morning.  Thankful to be refreshed in HIS PRESENCE!  

From the Rooftops I Proclaim…

There are times in life when emotion creeps in and trumps truth.  The whirlwind of the emotional roller coaster calls you to jump on and abandon wisdom and common sense.  Last night I purchased a ticket and decided to take a ride with my emotion.  This roller coaster dropped me off in the land of resentment and pity.

My dear husband and I were having a great conversation about the future.  We will be facing an upcoming PCS (permanent change of station) within the next year or so.  This obviously stirs up lots of talk about what life will look life for our family.  It also brings up the variables that are out of our control.  These conversations are at times exciting and welcomed.  Last night, not so much.

I must tell you that I am truly blessed in my current season in life.  I love calling myself an MUSC Physician Assistant student.  Even though school is mentally, emotionally, and physically demanding at times, I could not imagine doing anything else.  Brook and I have started to really enjoy living in Charleston and have been taking time out of the busyness to relax and “live life.”  We are close to celebrating three years of marriage and I am thankful for the way God has used this season to knit us closer.  There are definitely difficult moments.  Sleep is lacking and school takes up a lot of my time, but for the first time in a long time, I want to soak up these sweet moments I am experiencing like a sponge.  I want to sit in the moment and not look to where God wants me next.  I want to fulfill his purposes where I am now.

I am not ready to move from this season.  The thought of this season being shaken is overwhelming.  Last night I resented being an Air Force wife.  I became bitter at the life we have been called into; the life of being ok and willing to pick up our roots and establish them somewhere else.  The thought of us being separated.  We have finally found our sweet spot.  Why would this be ripped away from me?  Why are there so many variables out of my control.  I started to clinging to my emotions and throwing truth out the window.

Brook was on alert this week which meant he could not go to church with me this morning.  As I drove by myself to church, I turned my “Jesus” playlist up loud.  It’s amazing how belting out words starts to pull you off the emotional roller coaster and back into truth.  Today, the song “Rooftops” by Jesus Culture resonated.  I sang it with all my heart as tears flowed down my face.

Here I am before you.  Falling in love and seeking your truth.  Knowing that your perfect grace.  Has brought me to this place.

He gave me a thankful heart for being in this season.  Here I am Lord.  I’m here because of your grace.  I would never have seen these blessings without your hand on them.  Thank you for bringing me here by your power, not my own.  {my heart began to change from one of bitterness to a heart of worship and gratitude}

So I kneel before You God.  I lift my hands because you set me free.  So I shout out your name from the rooftops I proclaim.  That I am Yours, I am Yours.  All that I am I place into Your loving hands.  And I am Yours, I am Yours.  Here I am, I stand with arms wide open.  To the one, the Son, the everlasting God.

“all that i am”

Freedom.  I desired his freedom.  Freedom that only comes from him and HIS TRUTH.  Break these chains of resentment, pride, bitterness.  I began to pray.  Lord, give me a renewed spirit of faith in you.  Faith that you have our future in your hands.  A Jeremiah 29:11 faith.  Shake me from the inside out with truth.  Your truth.  You have given me strength to do your work.  You have called me a trustworthy servant (1 Timothy 1:12).  I will find strength to do your work as your child, a wife of Brook, an Air Force spouse, and as a student.  You will sustain me through it all with a joy that comes only from you.  I will start this race and end it well!  I am blessed, not burdened!

All the good You’ve done for me.  I lift up my hand up hand for all to see.  You’re the only one.  Who brings me to my knees. 

“i freely live”

Thank you for breaking me.  For bringing me to my knees which draws me back to your feet.  Sweet surrender once again.  I pin it my fears at the foot of the cross.  Fill me with all these that come from you:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is NO law.  I CLAIM these in your name.

I drove home from church and listened to the song again.  I called Brook and told him how God had started to work in my heart this morning.  Paradigm Shift.  We literally are living our dreams.  His hand of favor has been on us in every way that we can imagine.

With his favor, we will sustain the changes of the Air Force.  I trust he is not “ripping” this season away from me but continuing to bring me into his promises through each season, even the ones that require moves and re-rooting our foundations!  I am proud of the sacrifices my husband has committed to.  I CHOOSE to serve along him and will not turn this into a negative experience when so much good comes from it.

I am thankful that even when we choose emotion, HIS TRUTH TRUMPS!  I stand on that as my foundation today and because of that I feel renewed in him.  I will continue to enjoy this season and will find joy in the next!  I do this through HIM.

Sweetly Broken, Wholly Surrendered

Testimony.  A compilation of words that tells others about your faith.

One of my very favorite parts of the South Africa mission trip is the opportunity to listen to each team member’s testimony.  Not only is it a great way to grow community within the team, but it also allows a glimpse into each team member’s life.  Your testimony is YOUR STORY, beautifully written and orchestrated by God.  It’s your fingerprint of faith.  I love sharing mine because it’s a story of redemption, mercy, and his amazing grace.  My heart overflows when I think about my testimony because of the overwhelming, unconditional love He’s shown. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I was raised as a Baptist/Methodist.  From an early age, I was taught about God.  I learned all the Bible stories on the felt board at Sunday School.  My parents had me involved in the youth choir and as an usher in our church.  I continued to go to church in middle school and was even involved in our church’s youth group.  In high school my attendance started to decline.  I went often, but if I felt the need to sleep in on a Sunday, I most definitely did so.  In college my attendance at church took an even more drastic hit.  I got lots of information on bible studies, church services, etc offered around my campus, but never made the effort to attend.  Being involved in church usually meant attending on holidays and the occasional Sunday mornings when I would visit home.  I always knew there was a God and believed in him, but had no understanding of a “relationship” with him.  My belief in God was based more on the fear of not wanting to burn in hell one day and thinking simply “being a good person” was what was required of me.

My last year of college was a defining year.  My sweet dad was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer.  This rocked our family and this daddy’s girl to her core.  At the time, I had been in a four year relationship with a guy I knew from high school.  The relationship began to crumble and ended shortly thereafter.  This meant the cutting of ties in multiple ways; we had many mutual friends and I had the intentions of attending a special education Master’s program at the college he attended.  Needless to say, the break up was messy and those plans did not come to fruition.  In the midst of these two events, I was left feeling pretty broken and confused.  My friends around me were preparing to graduate, had just accepted great jobs, and were excited for the next phase in life.  I on the other hand was feeling lots of pain.  I was afraid of losing my dad and was not sure of what my future had in store.

Image

People react to pain in a multitude of ways.  I chose to mask mine through “fun.”  I had worked in the athletic department at UVA throughout school and had developed friendships through work.  Through these friends, I found a group to hang out with throughout that summer.  We would do thinks like attend Friday’s After Five on the Downtown Mall, frequent our favorite bar “Blue Light,” go tubing on the James River, and spend Sundays by the pool.  I started to find my identity in being the “party” girl.  My pain was buried under my social life.

On one of our infamous tubing trips I met a friend named Melissa.  We happened to end up in the same car on the trip home from a day of drinking on the river.  She worked as a nurse, specifically with terminally ill pediatric patients.  I told her of my dad’s sickness and we immediately clicked.  We cried together in the back of the car.  We ended up hanging out together at our friend’s house that night as our group BBQ-ed.  It was an instant connection.

About two weeks after this tubing trip, I was invited to a church named Clear River by a family that was (and is) very dear to me (The Fredericks, or “The Freds”).  They had two little girls that I used to watch once a week.  The mom of this family (Cherye) had lost her dad to cancer, so she was a great confidant in the midst of my dad’s sickness.  The Freds immediately pulled me into their family.  They even were so kind to offer me a key to their basement.  Many nights I would find myself staying the night over after hanging out with friends in Charlottesville.  The Freds had a third baby and she was being dedicated at church.  They asked if I would attend this special service with them.  I was honored to be included and agreed to attend.  I went to the service and was immediately in love with the church.  It was a contemporary, non-denominational church.  I loved their worship, style, and deliverance of the message.  When leaving church that day I ran into Melissa.  I call this a “Godincidence” (phrase I adopted from my mum).

Image

I enjoyed church so much that Sunday that I ended up attending a few more times with the Freds and with Melissa.  I started to dive into learning more about Jesus.  Melissa and I would have “quiet times” together.  There was a specific day that I had lost my cell phone (or thought I had).  I pulled money out of my bank account (which was very low those days) and decided to go purchase a new one.  On my way I found my phone in my car.  I was so excited I ended up driving to a Christian bookstore and purchased a study Bible.  I also purchased a bracelet with the verse “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov 3:6) engraved on it.

I continued to hang out with Melissa.  Our friendship was a rare, special one.  She’s the closest friend I’ve had outside of marriage to this day.   We just clicked.  God knitted our hearts and lives so tightly together.  I’m forever grateful for her.  We hung out almost every day.  One day Melissa mentioned trying a new church.  She was attending Clear River for Sunday services, but going to “Fresh Fire” for bible studies.  She wanted to try to attend just one church and was thinking of leaning towards Fresh Fire.  I agreed to go with her that Sunday.  I went with her and the message just resonated so deeply into my soul.  God called his daughter into his Kingdom that day. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Image

At the end of service they asked if anyone wanted to come up front and be prayed over.  I immediately went up.  Melissa came behind me and was crying because she said she heard angels rejoicing in heaven.  The coolest thing about this happening at Fresh Fire is that the people in the church had been praying for the entire summer as Melissa came to their bible studies.  She had told them my story and they had been praying specifically for me.  They were able to see their fervent prayers be answered.  “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

I look back at that moment and consider that the day when my relationship, not just the knowledge of Christ, began.  It was just the beginning of my story.  That’s the beautiful thing about telling your testimony.  Where and how you come to know Christ is important, but equally important is the “after.”  Your life by his will, under his umbrella of grace…

After accepting Christ into my heart, I continued to go to Fresh Fire and develop a relationship with Christ.  I joined the Bible Study and started volunteering at the church.  I really started to make a home at Fresh Fire.  I also was in the process of surrendering my old habits.  I would say I was a “work in progress.”  My dad was still fighting his fight with cancer.  I’m not going to go into too much detail with that in this blog.  I actually had a word from God that really told the story of my dad’s sickness through my testimony that I shared this year in South Africa.  That will come in a separate blog to follow (which is what initially prompted me to write this blog).

Around the summer of 2006 I decided it was time for a change.  I decided I wanted to move.  Long story short, I chose Charleston, SC and made the move in October of 2006.  I still remember the day I left.  My dad couldn’t bear to watch his youngest one leave.  He had to leave the house because he didn’t want to see me drive away.  I made one last stop at my mom’s work in Charlottesville to see her on my way out of town and then made the eight hour drive to Charleston.  I remember replaying Kelly Clarkson over and over in the car… “I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly, Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye.  I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change, and fly away…”  

Image

This is what you call a leap of faith.  It was my first time living outside of Virginia, first time living a decent distance away from family, and I knew NO ONE in Charleston.  Yes no one.  My pastor from Fresh Fire had recommended I attend Seacoast Church.  I went the second week I was in Charleston.  They had a young adult service in something at the church called “The Warehouse.”  Let’s just say the first Sunday I was overwhelmed.  The church was so large; there were cops outside directing traffic.  They had a coffee shop, bookstore, and multiple venues.  It was like a mini mall.  I was so blessed that they had an excellent team of greeters.  One specific girl pulled me in and took me under her wing.  Through her, I decided to come back again and eventually knew I had found my new home.  This is where I built community and found my connections in Charleston.

Image

I got really connected into the young adult ministry.  By the Spring of 2007 my life had changed drastically.  I was “wholly surrendered.” I had dropped the “old habits” and really decided I was ready to live for Christ.  My heart was healed and I was ready to embrace what God had in store.

From that time on I kind of remember things in milestones.  I decided to lead a small group with my roommate’s boyfriend.  It was a co-ed small group for young, single adults.  Little did I know a handsome, Air Force pilot would walk through the door.  What started out as friendship, turned into him getting down on one knee on September 28, 2008 to ask me for my hand in marriage on Sullivans Island.  We made it official on July 26, 2009.  Best decision I’ve ever made other than committing my life.  Blessed to do life with this man!

Image

Image

Image

My sweet niece and nephew were born.  Love them to the moon and back.  They are another example of God’s faithfulness you’ll hear about in my next blog.

Image

Also during this time period I learned what passion God equipped me with.  I really got involved helping with local missions.  I ended up leading something called “REACH (Relieving Every Ache in Charleston).”  What started as a passion for local missions developed into a passion for global missions.  I finally committed to going on one in May of 2011.  Life changed.  Heart Broken.  Never the Same.  Can’t stay away.

Image

I also made a pretty drastic career change.  I knew I didn’t want to continue to pursue a career in psychology.  I needed a career that would travel with our Air Force lifestyle and would be family friendly.  Brook randomly stumbled across an article on MSNBC one day that led me to dental hygiene.  I tired to leap from dental hygiene and open up the door to dental school, but that was slammed pretty quickly.  I retreated back to dental hygiene.  While waiting during a one year period for the dental hygiene program to start, I went to training with Brook in Altus, Oklahoma.  To pass time, I took a medical terminology class for fun online.  I then discovered what a Physician Assistant was and knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  This would really allow me to use my career to serve on missions.  I asked for my name to be pulled from the dental hygiene program and started the pre-reqs.  I sent my application into many schools in 2011, not knowing where God would place us with the Air Force.  Little did I know that he would keep us in Charleston.  But, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:9  He knew it and I was offered an early interview at the Medical University of South Carolina and admission one week later.  I start school in just 3 days!!  I am overwhelmed at his goodness and faithfulness!!

Image

That’s my fingerprint.  My unique story.  My story of how he lifted me out and set me dancing.  How he has worked in my life and blessed me beyond what I deserve or have ever hoped.  My story is a mixture of mountain highs and valley lows.  The one constant is that God was working through every situation.  Even though I couldn’t always see, he really used it all for my good and has never let go.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Amazing Grace.  Sweetly Broken, Wholly Surrendered.  That’s my story.  I claim it and love it.

Image

ImageImage

Happy 3-0 Brook Daniel!

Image

Happy 30th love of my life!  Our adventures in life bring me so much joy!  Here’s to you!   

1.  Your selfless heart.  It’s one of a kind.  It’s my VERY favorite trait of yours!

2. I’m proud to call myself a military spouse because of your service. My heart swells with pride when I see you in uniform. 

3. Mutual love of “chocolate chip cookie dough” – yes!  They made the itty bitty containers just for us. 🙂

4.  Loved our night at the Dream Center together.  You make your wife proud.  “Be an agent of love in your area of influence.” 

5.  The First 48 & red blanket.  Perfection.  

6.  I absolutely love our back porch/drink a beer, type of nights! 

7.  Enjoyed creating even more memories on a motorcycle.  

8.  We’ll be 76 & 75 (notice I said 76 lol), sitting in rockers and talking about our homework dates. 🙂

9.  Thanks for the many, many lunch dates.  You know how to make a girl smile!

10.  Sunday, after-church moments are some of my very favorites!  

11.  I think some of the best memories are yet to come.  First stop – South Africa!

12.  Thankful for 21 weeks of standing in the gap with me during the fast. 

13.  I’ve seen you embrace follow-through and sticking to your word.  I value that in you.  

14.  We should probably take a cruise sometime during your 30th year. 😉  Boleros misses us.  Gotta start somewhere to earn that diamond status. 😉

15. Every Sunday, as we hold hands and listen to Ephesians 3:20, I have full faith that God is going to work in our lives in just that way.  I love we’ve declared that for our family.  

16.  Seeing your black socks and tan t-shirts on the bedroom floor drives me batty when you’re home.  I miss it when you’re deployed.  

17.  So many beautiful flowers that appeared at my work.  You sure do know how to make a girl feel special.  

18.  I heart my stethoscope.  I heart that you thought to buy it.  I heart you put my name on it.  I heart that every time I use it, you are a part of it.  

19.  Watching those videos you taped with Sophie and Dalton makes my heart swell.  I can’t wait until you’re making them with our own kiddies! 

20.  Two words.  Mookie nuke. 

21.  Thank you for investing in my dreams.  Thanks for committing to the journey just as much as I did.  I could have never done it without you.  I can’t wait to walk across the stage and accept a diploma on behalf of the sacrifices we BOTH put in!  

22.  All these Master’s degrees floating around… let’s be honest… we have PhD’s in goofiness!  Wouldn’t change it for a minute. 🙂

23.  I love how some of the best days come from the craziest circumstances.  Case in point – fun in Atlantic Station.  Thank you crazy car dealer! 🙂

24.  “On the road again, Going places that I’ve never been.  Seein’ things that I may never see again, And I can’t wait to get on the road again. ”  Looking forward to the road trips in store for us this year! 🙂

25.  Best thing you’ve ever done is teaching this lady to properly operate a grill many, many years ago. 🙂

26.  Mini van.  ACCEPTED.  Officially documented. 

27.  This is our year for the Kiawah Half! 🙂  

28.  BRAIIIINNNSSSS

29.  Camping.  Love how it’s our thing.  Excited to add the Heiling version of a swagger “wagon” to the mix. 🙂

30. … and I thought I loved you then… so glad that it just keeps getting better!  Love you forever!  Happy 30th Brook!

He Has Spoken…

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Life changer. Rocked to the core.  AHA moment. Eye opener.  Perspective changed.  Kairos moment.

 I had one of “those” moments this past week… but let me give you a little background first:

Our church’s Easter message was based on a new series called “Love Is…” Our pastor was comparing human love versus the all-encompassing, never-failing love of Jesus Christ.  One of the stories he decided to share is how love is a motivator.  A video was played with a missionary named Ali sharing her story on how love motivated her into action. 

 Image

Ali is a PA (woot, woot!) and had led multiple mission trips to Nicaragua.  She was in a season of dryness and had asked the Lord to have the Holy Spirit come upon her on her upcoming mission trip.  She really desired to feel his presence. 

On the last day of the trip, Ali met a little boy named Engel.  At the age of three, doctors had diagnosed Engel with two holes between his ventricles.  This is the area of the heart where the blood is oxygenated.  Engel became light-headed and would pass out if he did any physical activity.  Without surgery, Engel would not have a chance of living past the age of eight.  Ali asked his mom how old he was and she said he was now eight. 

Ali, a pastor, and some other team members decided to lay hands on Engel and pray for him.  In that moment, the Holy Spirit poured into Ali.  She said that she broke into tears and knew that in that moment God was going to do something huge in Engel’s life. 

 Image

Ali returned to the US and contacted a foundation called “International Children’s Heart Foundation.”  They travel all over the world and perform heart surgery.   Ali talked to Dr. Gilbert and he was actually traveling to Honduras in one month.  If Ali could get Engel to Honduras, he would do an evaluation and see if Engel was a candidate for surgery.  Ali did just that!  She arranged for transportation and went with him to Honduras.  He was determined to be an excellent candidate for surgery and it was decided that it would be performed for him.  Praise the Lord!

Being that Ali is a PA, Dr. Gilbert asked if she would like to assist in the surgery.  She was afraid of the emotions that would rush over her, but she opted to scrub in.   During the surgery, Dr. Gilbert grabbed Ali’s hands and placed them on Engel’s heart and said, “You need to touch his heart, you need to hold it.  You’ve touched his heart in so many ways, you can literally say you’ve touched it from the inside out now.”   

 Image

Ali was able to close up Engel from his surgery and then she had the honor to report to the waiting room to let Engel’s mom know that, “he would make it.”

 Image

After this extremely emotional video, our pastor told us that he wanted to update us on Ali and Engel’s status.  To our surprise, they brought Ali, Engel, and his mother on stage!  My hands immediately drew to my face as I squealed, “Oh MY GOODNESS.”

I sat in my chair throughout the video with tears streaming down my face.  They began to pour as they walked onto stage.  I had to keep reminding myself that I was in public and needed to somewhat keep my composure.  J God was reaching out and touching my heart in a big way, but I had not deciphered exactly what he was saying quite yet.

Brook and I drove home from church.  As usual, we talk about what the message meant to us.  For the life-changing messages, we usually go out for lunch to discuss.  He knew this one was big and took me out to lunch.  Yet, I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t really formulate words to describe what was happening on the inside.  I just kept telling him I knew it was a God moment, but was still processing it.  I was so tired for the rest of the afternoon.  I was emotionally drained but still did not understand the magnitude of why.  

The next few days, God started placing the meaning of that service on my heart.  He started speaking words of purpose over my life: 

“See Shannon, this is what I created YOU for.  Before you were ever in your mother’s womb, I had excellent plans for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“I have created you in my image, as my workmanship.  You were created by me to do good works, which God has already prepared for you in advance.”  (Ephesians 2:10)

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19

For some reason, God has decided to speak affirmation into my life.  Not just a passing “ok, good job for choosing the PA field, keep searching for my will” but a deeper message; a deeper level.  He was speaking to my brain while touching my heart:

“I CREATED you for this.  You are my WORKMANSHIP. You are being sent to HEAL in my name.  I am breaking YOUR heart for what breaks MINE to move you into action.  Your broken heart will be YOUR LOVE MOTIVATOR.  Therefore GO…”

It’s an amazing moment to feel such clarity… a peace that passes ALL understanding.  For the longest time I flip-flopped between career moves.  I thought about being a dentist, a dental hygienist, an ABA Therapist, or getting my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy.   I look back and see the road that God placed me on to become a PA.  Being in my late 20’s and going back to school was no easy feat.  Life became crazy, busy, and messy at times.  There was a lot of uncertainty.  Stress would creep in.  Sometimes I wondered if being a PA was worth it.  I’d much rather enjoy my evenings with my husband homework free.  Weekends at the beach seemed a lot more rewarding than weekends at a desk.   God has quieted that chaos.  “Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

He has worked out every detail when we didn’t understand how it was going to come together.   He had a plan when all I had was a mess. I am so thankful that he saw beyond my tunnel vision, beyond my scattered-brain and decided I would be CHOSEN to be a PA to serve him.  “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord, and the Lord delights in his way.”  Psalm 37:23

My missionary work may not and most likely will not look like Ali’s.  Maybe it will.  Who knows?  I know God does.  For that I am thankful. 

When I decided to re-commit my life to Christ, I purchased a bracelet. I occasionally still wear it.  It has Proverbs 3:5-6 on it.  I am thankful that it still holds true:

Image

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths straight.”

“Love is”… knowing him.  Being him.  Sharing him.