This is the ring my husband bought me for our sixth wedding anniversary. It has been lost for about two years now. I've looked through every suitcase and purse and pocket I could think of, searching for it.
When we moved last November, I thought for sure we would find it. When we didn't, I gave up all hope. I figured it had been given away with one of the old purses I donated to Goodwill, and just prayed it would be a blessing to whoever ended up with it.
So imagine my surprise this weekend when I felt inside the left front pocket of a work shirt I was wearing to camp in! I was looking for a ponytail holder and instead, felt a circular hard thing about the size of a ring.
"It can't be!" I thought as I scrambled to unbutton the pocket.
Of course, it was!
I ran over to my husband and showed him the ring and we both celebrated its return.
It's amazing how much joy can come from finding something you thought was lost forever.
Of course, it was never really lost. It had been in my possession the whole time. I'd worn the shirt several times between putting the ring in that pocket and discovering it again. I just couldn't use it because I didn't realize I had it.
I lost another thing when we moved last November. I didn't realize it for several weeks after we moved, because of all the hubbub and busyness that surrounds moving. But a few weeks later I went to draw upon it, and I simply couldn't find it.
It was my joy.
I could give you all kinds of reasons why. But the simple truth is, I was looking for it in the wrong place.
I had found happiness in time with friends, in my house that had become a home filled with 15 years of memories, in raising my kids surrounded by other families who looked just like mine and shared similar values. I even found it in a state where I knew most every nook and cranny and had people I called friends in most of them.
All of a sudden that was all gone, and with it, I thought, went my joy.
Unlike the ring, I didn't give up hope of finding it. No, the one thing I've learned in my years as a Christian, is to run, don't walk, to God and His Word when you are in need. So that's what I did.
I began reading each chapter in the Bible where the word joy occurred to try and find mine again. I cried and read and took notes. I'm happy to say I'm not done yet. (There are THAT many occurrences of the word joy!)
Over time, it started creeping back in. The more time I spent with God, learning to trust Him all over again, soaking in His love for me, and His control over all things, the more joy seemed possible to me.
The day I found my ring, I realized that not only was the ring back, but so was my joy. It wasn't the same sudden discovery, but a slow steady progression.
It too, had been with me all the time.
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126:5
"But the fruit of the Spirt is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22
Posted by Shannon at 7:51 AM
There was a fun "artsy-fartsy" event here in Loveland recently. I took the kids and they were each able to paint panda pictures. There was a lady up front who gave us, and the other 20 or so children, step by step instructions on how to do it.
Both of my children followed the step by step instructions. One allowed me to help and one insisted on doing it independently.
It reminded me of those times when I try to accomplish the things in the Bible all by myself. Yes, I have the step by step instructions, (Praise The Lord!) but even still, I am unable to accomplish what it asks me to do if I insist upon doing things independently, without God.
Now, these two pictures are both hanging up in our house and both are loved and it is almost with pride that I tell you the one child insisted on doing the work without any help. The paintings are fun, but inconsequential.
When the painting is your marriage, or the raising of your children, or your relationship with your neighbor, or ministering to widows and orphans, the consequences of not doing it well become greater.
But it's never too late to ask for God's help. Jesus did an amazing thing to make Himself available to us. To walk with us, to work through us to do the good works which God created in advance for us to do.
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Phillipians 2:13
Posted by Shannon at 7:32 AM
This picture does not do justice to the pleasant little surprise that this rock lined patch of flowers was the day that I saw it.
The kids and I were walking our dog along the "green belt". Which in our neighborhood is really an alley, that happens to grow grass. It's sort of a shared yard, or an excuse not to give people their own large yards, but evidently was a cool trend in the 80's when this neighborhood went in.
They get very little use. Unlike alleys, you can't actually drive on them, so they don't provide access to the back of your property. Most people do have a little walking gate in their fence, that would allow them to access it, but most rarely do.
So, basically, you walk in this great meadow, beautiful enough in the eyes of this NM girl, (although, I did think several times what a waste it was not to have cattle on it, or at least a tethered goat) and look at the backside of a bunch of houses.
Imagine my surprise when I came across this little jewel. Someone has taken the trouble to plant a few flowers and put some rocks in a semicircle. For the pure pleasure of it. Hardly anyone sees it. It isn't even, technically, their own property.
It could be a child. Or someone childlike. I love it.
It made me ask myself the question. "Am I beautifying anywhere outside my boundaries?"
I think we all get comfortable with our areas of responsibility. My house. My yard. My job. My family. My kids. And many of us do a good job beautifying those areas.
As women, I believe that is something innate within us that God gave us, the desire to make things more beautiful.
But do we ever go outside our borders and beautify someone else's house? Someone else's yard, job, family, kids?
Now, maybe you are, like I have been lately, adjusting to a big change in your life and just hanging on for dear life, barely able to keep up with the basic necessities, forget beautifying anything.
This is not a guilt trip.
Just consider giving yourself permission to beautify something today. Neglect your chores if you must. I bet this beautifying will nourish your soul.
And might inspire someone else.
"Blessed be The Lord God of our fathers which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of The Lord which is in Jerusalem. " Ezra 7:27
Posted by Shannon at 7:03 AM
This past Easter morning, I woke up humming a song I remembered Dolly Parton singing - He's Alive.
Of course, living in this high tech world of ours, I pulled up a performance of hers on Youtube and cried my way through that glorious song. The kids came down for the day and I shared it with them. I could not get it out of my mind and decided to purchase it on iTunes.
I listened to it on repeat that morning as I got ready for church and thought to myself in the shower, "Wouldn't it be great if they performed this song at second service today?" The worship music in second service is contemporary, so it was a possibility. But a longshot.
My husband and I usually attend second service after a Bible Study we enjoy during first service. However, I realized just as quickly that since there was no Bible study that day, we'd be attending first service.
They have beautiful, amazing music in first service. There's a great big choir that makes me feel as if I am truly surrounded by the praise of God. It's wonderful. But they don't, to my knowledge, do Dolly Parton.
Still, I was looking forward to worshiping Christ our risen Savior on that beautiful Easter morning no matter what they sang.
Later, standing in the sanctuary, surrounded by the praise of God, tears started streaming down my face as the choir performed, and we all sang along with, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.
If more beautiful music has been written, I don't know it.
And all I had asked for was Dolly Parton.
Isn't that just like God?
In Acts Chapter 3, we get a story about a crippled beggar who just wants a handout. The Bible says he was crippled from birth.
When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have, I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Acts 3:3-6
Of course, he walked.
He had been looking for a little change, maybe enough for a meal, or even enough to get him through til the next day. What He received was a MIRACLE.
So is a church choir playing Handel on Easter a MIRACLE? Hardly.
But it sure did remind me that God loves us and wants to give us more than we could ever ask or imagine. (See Ephesians 3:20)
That he loves me at all is a MIRACLE.
That he further wants to give me more than I ask for is a MIRACLE.
The good news is, He loves you too. And He wants to give you more than you ask for. Let Him.
Posted by Shannon at 9:53 PM
I've been doing a word study on joy. That is, I looked up every time the word joy occurs in the Bible, and then I am studying that passage to see what is happening and try to learn from it.
It has been so good. I am by nature a glass is half full kind of person, so any help I can get with joy I'll take!
One of the most powerful lessons I learned came from 1 Chronicles 15:16. "Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy."
Here, David is bringing the ark of the covenant to the city of David. They tried this once before and failed.
David puts it this way in verse 13 of the same chapter "because you did not carry it at the first, The Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek him according to the ordinances."
They hadn't done it God's way, and so they were punished.
Now, they were doing it God's way. And a part of that doing it God's way was joy.
Notice, doing it the right way didn't produce the joy; joy was a key ingredient in doing it the right way.
Paradigm shift. I shouldn't think of joy as a result, but an element. In other words joy is an ingredient in the recipe of godly living.
I've had it backwards. I've been serving, serving waiting for the joy to come as a result instead of serving joyfully, all along.
Here is another verse that emphasizes the importance of serving God joyfully.
"Because thou servesdt not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which The Lord shall send against thee in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck until he have destroyed thee." Deuteronomy 28:47-48
Posted by Shannon at 4:50 PM
|Photo credit - run.com|
I have started running. And, because of the nature of winters here, I've been running at the gym on an indoor track most days.
Which can be aggravating.
Here's why. In spite of a very clear sign posted in several spots around the gym, to walk on the inside of the track and run on the outside of the track - people don't.
In other words, there are obstacles, and they are all human.
I've tried to think of clever phrases to throw out as I pass. "Walkers on the inside." "Read the sign." "Passing."
But then I thought better of it.
I'm not the indoor track police. And I don't want to be. Really.
I just want to run and relax and enjoy myself. I can't be responsible for them. I can only be responsible for me.
I decided to adopt a new philosophy, just run. Dodge the elderly and the teenagers who can't or won't read. And the primpers who are swishing their hair as they glance in every reflective surface they pass. ;)
It reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses:
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Posted by Shannon at 1:48 PM