I choose not too, sometimes.

My devoutions don’t always look like this.

I sat down today to do my devoutions. With the honest and good intention of actually doing them. Here we are an hour later and you have guessed it. They are not done. Today I spent most of my day eating four portions of lasagne and watching Ed Sheeran carpool caroke – because when you have an exam in two days, procrastination has to be your middle name.

Anyway I sat down. Opened my laptop to put on some super spiritual music so that I was you know – in the zone. I ended up writing an article for the sschool magazine and organising things for an upcoming event – my bible sat closed on my bed. I’m in the process of learning that I can meet God anywhere and in anything. I believe so strongly that secular and christian culture shouldn’t exist. That the entire earth should be cultivated to become a culture solely fixed on him. That doesn’t mean no make-up, scientific discoveries or Ed sheeran ( because that would be a third world disaster ). It simply means that God is so evidently and intricately inside each one of those things. Our God is a creative God, He desinged the world – He knows what Hess’s law is, because he gave someone the wisdom created it, He gifted Ed with his angelic voice. God is in the midst of it all. Everything.

For a while now I have been reading Romans. I love Roman’s don’t get me wrong but I want to be reading 2 kings because that is what I need to be reading in order to fulfil my reading schedule. ( I know – avid planner much). But seriously. My bookmark is in 2nd Kings, mentally, I am in 2nd kings and every day I have a conversation with God that goes like this.

 

Me: 2nd kings?

God: silent

Me: Please

God: you know that in this season I want you to know the truth about who you are, I want you to read my word to from a deeper relationship with me, not just to study and understand it.

Me: sorry God, Romans it is.

I do this everyday – you would think I would learn.

How often in our lives are we like this. How often do we mentally be in one place but physically in another. God is teaching me how to honour him better. I’m still learning. I love that we get to learn together. Be encouraged if your devotions don’t look instagram perfect. Mine rarley do. 

God knew in that season I didn’t have the mental capacity to study the Old Testemenet. He knew that I needed to hear truth, not striving. He met me in that moment and He longed for me to read His word in order to rest. Not to work harder.

I think we are all learning about rest, especially through this exam season. We need to learn to honour our body and minds capacity.  It is a truly beautiful thing that God loves us so deeply despite all of our failings. He loves to spend time with me even though often I choose not to spend time with Him.

All my love, shannon x

Posted in him

Wonder

I do’nt know about you but the last few weeks have placed quite a burden on my heart, I have become so much more aware of the hurt and the brokenness of the world as it occurs closer to home; with the attacks in Manchester and London as well as with our brothers and sisters facing persecution in the Middle of the East. These are hard times but times that require us to get on our knees and let our hearts break for the things that break His as we pray for restoration and healing, for the coming of His Kingdom.

However, amidst these terrors God makes us aware of His presence and the joy that comes from knowing that in the darkness His light shines even brighter and won’t be extinguished. He challenges us to look at things from a different perspective.

Recently I have been obsessed with Hillsong United’s latest song “Wonder.” This song explains the wonder we experience as we choose to share God’s way of seeing the world, and really reminded me to be joyful in times of trial, to live in constant wonder of Him despite the brokenness and suffering of the world.

The chorus declares “I see the world in light, I see the world in wonder, I see the world in life, Bursting in living colour, I see the world your way, And I’m walking in the light.” Does this mean we see through rose tinted glasses? Not at all, but rather we have a hope that although we see the reality of sin and suffering we can see the light and aim to adopt God’s perspective.

I was really struck by the lines “You’re the wonder in the wild. Turning wilderness to wonder.” Thinking about them I challenged myself to look at the personal wilderness that I sometimes walk through and reflected on how God can turn that wilderness into wonder. For instance, when I come out of a season in the wilderness I can look back in wonder at what God has delivered me from.

But not only is God’s wonder revealed when we leave our wilderness, but its right there with us in the midst of our pain. This time last week I watched Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert and was reduced to tears as I watched in wonder at the unity and compassion shown in the midst of so much suffering. I truly believe that in the pain of the aftermath of that horrendous attack God’s wonder was revealed, does that make it all ok? No but it instils a hope within us, it ignites a light to overcome the darkness, a wonder in what God can do in the midst of suffering.

So I’m aware that this month She Spreads Light have been focusing on the theme of Honour. This post has not specifically touched on this, but I felt that God placed this message on my heart to share with you all. I encourage you however to really think about your perspective , have you chosen to see the world through the eyes of God? It is such an HONOUR (I knew I’d get it in somewhere) that God invites us to share in His wonder, to see things the way He does, so why wouldn’t we?

Love Always. 

Rachel x

》HONOUR《

In June we are exploring HONOUR. (Also- It’s June whattttt- this year is flying!!) She Spreads Light are hosting our very first event at the end of the month based on honour so we thought that this would be a great theme to be exploring and digging deeper into what honour really means to us.
In the Oxford dictionary, honour is defined as  “High respect; great esteem.”, “The quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.” Or “Something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege.”

In the Bible, Honour is described through all of these definitions. The commandments describe honour in the terms of high respect..  E.g “honour your father and mother” – Exodus 20:1

By the definition of morals the bible says; “never tire of doing what is good” -2 Thessalonians 3:13

And finally in terms of privilege, firstly Jesus is a privilege, this world is a privilege, your life is a privilege. A verse that describes honour in terms of privilege is Ephesians 2:8-9- “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I’m a person who likes to understand every definition of aa word and be able to relate it to something so apologies if you knew the words inside out, but it’s always nice to give your memory a refreshment!

So having all the important stuff out of the way. What does honour mean to me? I would associate honour with the first definition mostly- respect and esteem. So here I am talking about honouring your body and I’m excited for this. There’s many aspects to honouring your body. Today I’m going to be focusing a small part of the physical and mental aspect.

•physically•

As a physical approach, the body is what you see as a normal person and not a surgeon or even a radiologist. Real life isn’t Grey’s Anatomy, sadly but quite thankfully too. The bible tells us that our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and we should treat them as we would a temple. We wouldn’t tell a temple it is ugly, nor damage it, and we wouldn’t leaves it to rot and wear away if it somehow gets damaged. Honouring our bodies are hard a lot of the time. It’s difficult to love yourself and it is difficult to believe that you are a masterpiece at times but it is the truth. I’m currently feeling like a massive hypocrite telling all of you to love yourselves when there are days when I don’t, and there’s days when I don’t believe that God wanted to make me this way. I know the truth but sometimes I don’t want to believe that truth. But so many of us are like this girl or boy, man or woman and quite possibly cat or dog.

When I was younger, my granny always gave my sisters and I £5 pocket money. I always would have been so excited to go to the shop after leaving to buy a new magazine. Although these magazine were aimed at pre-teens and teenagers. (think of TOTP, shout etc.). These magazines had covers and pages filled with celebrities, I remember getting a magazine and there was a poster of the High School Musical cast. I admired that poster with an admiration so deep-looking back it is so embarrassing. I remember wishing that I  could sing as good as Vanessa, I wish I had golden blonde hair like Ashley,  and I wish I was as intelligent as Monique, never mind being as pretty as them and as thin as them. Even today I still find myself looking at the magazines in a shop like cosmopolitan, vogue and glamour in which the covers are of beautiful, perfect, photogenic women, who have perfectly tanned bodies, clear skin and have no sign of fat or flaws. It’s so draining to try and love yourself in a world which doesn’t want to you love yourself, and a world which portrays women as having to be perfect and a world which poses a fake reality. I never saw any magazines which showed real women, which showed women who had problems.

As someone who has a body littered in scars like how an arena looks after a concert or how a field looks after a festival. It’s almost fake to say that your scars are beautiful. As a girl who’s scars are mostly intentional writing about honouring your body is a little bit or probably a whole lot laughable, but kind of a complete turn around and kind of humbling to know that I can still honour my body even after everything done to try and damage it and after every hateful thought towards it. Knowing that as much as I may have hated my body, it loved me back so incredibly much that it heals itself from minor bruises and cuts, it fights common infections, it keeps breathing it keeps going. Its comforting knowing that I am forgiven for ruining a masterpiece and that my apology to my body is accepted wholly. The body God made for you is a miracle in itself. Healing is another theme in itself so we’ll leave that for another post.

I am constantly amazed by the fact that god created us and handcrafted us to perfection, he even knows the number of hairs on your head. And I know you’ve probably heard this a billion times but its so incredible. I would hate to see a beautiful building falling apart, or a piece of art destroyed it would hurt my heart. So much. Even imagine your favourite, most sentimental, most beautiful thing you own getting damaged. This is what I imagine God feels when we don’t honour our own bodies and when we don’t love ourselves enough.

Looking at yourself in a different perspective can help you honour your body. For example, when your dress shopping for a big event, find the things that you like about your body in the dress. Or when you think things like I wish I was as thin as them or I wish my nose wasn’t like this. Tell yourself things like I love my eyes or I like that I’m short. Lets get one thing straight but. Beauty is not outward appearance.

Honour your body by doing the right things, like exercising, feeding it right and caring for it when it’s hurt. Rachel’s category, Take Care of Yourself is a really good read to dig deeper into the physical perspectives of honouring your body in a fitness aspect that I would honestly have no idea what to write about.

mentally

The first time I asked for prayer for my mental health I was 15, I was trembling , sweating and my voice was shaky. So shaky that I’m surprised that the girl could understand what I was saying. I was honestly expecting her to look at me and say “you look put together and happy, plus you’re too young to experience mental health issues; wise up. Is there something else you want prayer for?” but she didn’t; she went on and prayed, so deeply with so much love and so much passion. After she was finished we talked for a really short time and she was so supportive and really lovely about it. I’m honoured that prayer happened that night and massively proud that I plucked the courage in my introverted, shy, anxious being to get up, because it was a night which changed my perspectives on how the church really does view mental health and issues surrounding it.

Mental health is something not widely talked about in the church, but I think that’s it’s not that the church doesn’t want to support , more so the fact that it’s still a taboo and there’s still a stigma attached.

A word I remember so clearly from that prayer is joy. She prayed that I would find true joy in Him. True joy is unexplainable. It’s kind of like being with your best friend, at your favourite place, eating your favourite thing, listening to your favourite music and wearing your favourite thing- when nothing goes wrong and there’s no deep sadness that overrides that joy- but so much better. It like the adrenaline pumping through your body at a concert before the main act comes out- then they come out- then there’s screams- then they begin singing- then pure silence- pure peace. Joy is beautiful and divine.  Impossible to describe accurately. Joy is that peace that god provides. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I experienced true joy for a long time before I loved Jesus. See that concert and the favourite things those aren’t everlasting, they’re not going to be there forever after a few hours the adrenaline gone and the lights are back on and the arena is left littered and empty. Sure, there are a few dark days in-between the  joyous days, but He is ways there no matter how dark it is.  The joy He provides is permanent and eternal. A friend of mine explained Joy much better in a beautiful and honest post last night have a read to explore it more.

Peace is found in Him. Find Him and you will find peace. It’s so important to take care of your mental health. Honouring your physical body enables you to also honour your body’s mentality. Speaking love to yourself and speaking hope and speaking peace. Allowing gods voice to overrule the negative thoughts and allowing the worship to take over. Practicing self care is so good. Self care is as little as brushing your teeth in the morning to going for a run. My go thing for self care is pulling out my bible and flicking through the pages I’ve wrote in sand drawn on and also pulling out a box which holds all my letters, notes and just things I want to keep and reading them- some I read more than once or twice. Here’s a huge list of self-care.

This month I pray that God would break your heart for what breaks His, especially in how you see yourself and how you respect yourself as a person and body crafted by the one who loves you with all of His heart. I pray that you would honour yourself with such a deep love and respect that you would believe you are beautiful and that you are worthy and that you are a masterpiece. I pray that you find peace on god and allow him to overrule the negative and the things holding you back from living the life of love and the things holding you back from living for him.

We love you all so much and we are so excited for the rest of this theme to unfold into the incredible Honour event.

Lots of love, SSL. xo

May 23rd

It has been three weeks since I came to this corner of the world. And how I have missed it. As we finish up digging deeper into what MERCY actually is and what it means for us -I want to tell you a story. A really honest story – one that really doesn’t make me seem like a good person or christ-like at all. The next hour is going to be honesty hour. From one tired and burnt out soul – to hopefully not, but probobally, another.

I’m extremely self-absorbed. Like really into myself – which is weird because honestly the world is full of so many more intresting people than myself. But even though that is true, I’m still self obsessed. If I’m honest. Which is a rule in honesty hour.

It was a Tuesday – the 23rd of May 2017. To be honest on the 23rd of May I couldn’t have told you it was actually that date. I was that far gone. I had a week full of exams and was truly feeling very sorry for myself. I had entered survival mode. Which soemtimes we can’t help but enter. But it is important to remeber survival mode isn’t what you were created for. It doesn’t exist in the kingdom of God – God created a world for us to thrive. But like many things when it comes to God I often forget and go my own way.

I was walking down the street thinking about Bali or Austria or some holiday that I was going to take really soon. With all the non-existing money I was earning from my non-existant job. I saw some rubbish on the ground. I have a rule. A rule that I don’t always stick to but still a rule. It is to pick up rubbish when I see it on the street. Yes I am that person & Yes I do care about the environment. Plus it is really good for testing how prideful you are. But that’s not the point. God said – clear as I have heard Him in a LONG time.

“Will you pick up my children who think they are trash (yes in my head God is American) and let me recycle them.”

I thought “oh that’s a nice thought, now back to my head clearing walk”. As I crossed the street, there she sat. I wish I could call her something other than she but I never got her name. She was sitting, in the cold on her coat – clutching a photograph. She was crying and blood was pouring out of her wound. Obviously at first I didn’t notice this – I was to absorbed in my head-clearing-poor-me-I-have-exams-walk.

I would love to say I stopped. That my initial thought was to help her, that I had some innate drive to sacv this woman. To atleast pray or soemthing that makes me sound like I actually want to live my life for Jesus. But I didn’t. I walked straight past her.

Afterall this night was about me. I deserved the walk – first off it was a walk, it was nothing special. I wasn’t treating to an incredible spa day. It was a walk people. Second I had worked hard all day. I justified all the reasons inside my head why I shouldn’t go check if she was ok. Afterall it was 10:30pm, I was in a dark park where people do drugs. Like real drugs, and ofcourse I know nothing of that because of my christian bubble, (but that is a post for another day). Plus she could have had a weapon, afterall leaving her there was the wise choice. Stranger danger is a real thing people.

God took control of my body in that moment and marched me – literally, to the woman. I sheepishly said are you ok.  In my head I was like she obviously isn’t shannon – wise up. But no other words would come out. I asked if there was anything I could do. I sat down. I told her I would be back in a minute. Then I got up. Fear took hold of me and I walked away. I went home. Got my mum (obviously) and then came back. There’s more to the story but that is not for today. In the end an ambulance came to take her away and heal her physical wounds.

First off I am not belittleing the fact that it is dangerous to talk to a stranger sitting alone in the park. I get that. I do. That’s why I got my mum.

However this story inheritely shows Gods heart. He asked me right before  if iI would do the very thing He knew I wouldn’t do. In that moment I felt like such a Peter. The bible is so relevant today.nThat morning I prayed the prayer, I pray every morning – “Dear Lord I thank you for this day and devote it back to you, let me not be lying when I say that I love you for today I could betray you”. (Its the shannon adaption of St Francis of Assisi’s prayer). That morning God knew that I would go a walk at 10:30pm and that I would come across a soul in need of comfort. He knew I would walk away. He knew I would be afraid.

The world that God intended us to live in may seem so far away. Huge mountains of pride, selfishness, pain, loss, busyness – stand in the way of us living life to the full. Bringing the reality of heaven on earth. All we can do is daily fall on our face, aware of the incredible things christ bought for us with His love. Know we do life with God not for God. His mercy is tangible, it is alive, it is present, it is yours – if you want it.

Becasue of His divine love and beautiful mercy he descended from a heritage of messy people to be born literally into animal mess. Why? To save the mess that is you and I. So often we make it all so complicated. Theology  can be complicated. But Jesus is perfect theology. He loved and continues to love the mess that I am. He continues to show me undeserving mercy. Even though I fail Him daily. I pay no price for this love or mercy. I simply get to live in it. And you do to. (Which is often hard to understnad). He chooses my mess and I hope that I will continue to partner with people who feel like a mess. I hope I will do it afraid but do it anyway. I hope that if I walk away 100  hundred times, I will still turn around and walk back.

From one girl living out heaven on earth afraid, to another,

Love Shannon x

Mercy, We need You

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:8-9

What a passage! The religiosity and moralistic part of me is called out and convicted here, because if we are truly honest a lot of the time we distract ourselves from our own sin by looking at the sin in others and seeing ourselves as clean. But realistically we too are so full of sin. I have been really challenged this week to humbly read God’s word, allowing myself to be convicted by what it says and I pray that you too will have this conviction as you read the verses above.

But on to the topic of mercy, I think these verses perfectly encapsulate just how great God’s mercy is for us. Not only does it tell us of God’s merciful character, but encourages us to confess our sinful nature knowing that with a repenting heart we will be made clean. By truly acknowledging the depth of our brokenness the fullness of God’s mercy is revealed to us.

The thing is we will never get everything right, as Paul writes we “all fall short of the glory of God”, therefore we are always in desperate need of His mercy. Despite the amount of times we run the opposite direction, when we return with a humble heart asking for forgiveness he mercifully embraces us. He never gets fed up or says “do I really have to give you more mercy”, instead in his immeasurable love and generosity he forgives us time and time again. However, this doesn’t give us permission to do whatever we want, but allows us to rest in the knowledge that no matter how many times we mess up “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38) because of God’s mercy.

In light of this I challenge you to take some time this week to prayerfully examine your heart,and to acknowledge your brokenness. However doing so in the knowledge that if you repent on this you will be covered in His mercy.  Remember that the Father doesn’t see us as objects of condemnation, but of praise as Paul tells the Romans in chapter 2:29, ” a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” that is the amazing, intangible, fullness of his mercy.

Fight or flight 

In Jonah 1, God tells Jonah that he needs to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. This is all well and good until God says that he needs to speak against it and tell the people what’s going to happen if they don’t listen to God and obey him.

Nineveh was known as an ‘exceedingly great’ city, imagine going to speak down on it. Public speaking is one of the most common phobias, but this is like going to Buckingham palace and telling the Queen all the things you don’t like about her. It would be crazy and you would be hated by the whole world never mind just England. This is the situation Jonah is imagining in his head. I know if someone gave me a list of negative things to say about the queen to the queen I would lock myself in my room and never come out. I would definitely run and probably cry.
So that’s what Jonah done. He ran away. In a state of fear and probably shock that God would want him to do this. Jonah found a boat going to Spain, so there he went with a crew on his way to Spain in a bid to try to run from the responsibility God has put on him.

How often do you run from god? I know when god puts something on my heart, the introvert that I am tries to avoid it and just not listen to it and try as best I can to run from it. Especially if it was ask this person this but that person I don’t even know or i have never even talked to them. Or even when he says youre capable of this, do it. I know most of the time we dont set out to run and hide, but sometimes it’s just simply no. No god, i cant do that or no I’m not doing that.

Sometimes we just need a good shaking and someone to tell us we can do this. Just do it. It won’t be scary. It will be okay. So that’s what God done to Jonah. A storm was rising, the men in the boat were panicked and didn’t know what to do. They woke Jonah who was sleeping down stairs to see of he knew what to do. He told them what they needed to do in his stubborness. The men were like uhnn no way we’re not throwing you into the raging sea in the midst of a storm. Are you still sleeping or are you going crazy?? After trying everything possible, the men gave in and took Jonah and threw him overboard and the sea was instantly calm and the storm was over.

Then a whale swallowed Jonah.

Let’s be real. We can run as far as we want from god. We can continue to say no. But God will catch us and keep guiding us. Even when we dont think it’s guidance or even think hes not guiding us at all. The whale was like a safe place for Jonah, a place where he could just think about what he’s done and why he’s running and redetermine what he’s doing. Jonah was in the whale for 3 days and 3 nights.

Then he said to God:
“In my distress I called to the Lord , and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
…To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit…
Jonah 2:2‭, ‬6 NIV
And that was it. The whale spat Jonah up and he was free and forgiven. (Jonah 2:10)

God saved Jonah from sinking deep in the sea. He also saved him from wandering off further. God showed Jonah so much mercy. Jonah didn’t deserve the forgiveness and compassion god gave him. But god still was merciful.

I love this story and I love the meaning behind it. I love that no matter what we do. No matter how far we run. God always gives us a safe place. He brings us back to reality and keeps encouraging us. I love that he is real and that he  forgives even when we dont deserve an ounce of forgiveness. I love that our god is a forgiving god. I love that he is a merciful god.

SSL x 

Fancy M&S Paper 

As exam season rolls on up in its beat up 1980s beetle I feel my faith starting to dwindle. If I’m totally honest. Balancing exams & the rest of life can be such a pain. Most of the time I forget I was put on the earth for a higher purpose than to pass my exams. (all the Christian moma’s are going to be mad). 
Working hard and diligently is so important – but that’s a post for another day. I so easily entangle my worth with a letter on a piece of paper. I think of God as the examiner circling the times I get life right and putting a disgusting red line through most of my attempts. At the end of most days; if I’m honest – I’d be sitting on a U when it comes to living for Jesus. If we are honest all of us would. But God (my favourite two words) in His beauty and wonder chose and continually chooses not to treat us like that. 

As I write these words it’s 8 am – I’ve had 4 hours sleep and I’m sitting in the darkness. Sometimes we treat our lives like this. We sit in the darkness thinking that God wants to keep us there, knowing we are unworthy of His light. Believing that if we sit here a little longer it will make Him forgive us – that the darkness will hide our darkness. But in fact the darkness simply makes the light shine brighter. The light of Jesus that is within you can never be dwindled out unless you let it & even still His truth shines out of everything He touches. 

“The lights shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

– John 1 v 15

Period. This is the truth. 

 

Mercy comes from a whole bunch of Latin words. Google it. It’s actually quite interesting but at the heart of the English word mercy is derived from misericors which means merciful. The word is derived from who God is. Merciful. If that’s not the most beautiful thing I don’t know what is! God created the word, to be understood in our language – out of a word that describes exactly who He is. 

He has never been afraid of your mess. He never will be afraid of your mess. God’s love & mercy is not a prize to be won but a gift to be shared. It’s not packaged in M&S fancy paper or got a big pink ribbon on it. It’s exposed, open, given freely always. it’s yours for the taking. All you have to do is receive. You might not deserve mercy. That’s not the point. God’s gifts aren’t based on your behaviour but on His character. I for one am so glad. 
Be blessed today. Walk knowing He is merciful. Google the word if you don’t even know what it means & begin to unpack His truths. 

He is merciful & because of this you are seen, loved and forgiven for all of eternity. 
Bundles & Bundles of love,

Shannon X